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Archive for February, 2012

Anthony Shadid

[ 5 ] February 17, 2012 |

R.I.P. A great journalist, and having been hospitalized for asthma attacks more than once…this really hits home.

…as Mizner notes, his final piece on the post-Gadaffi chaos in Libya was typically superb.


The War Against Women

[ 101 ] February 17, 2012 |

As soon as Virginia’s Mandatory Rape Law was passed by the House of Delegates, a great column by a particular Virginia resident was inevitable, and sure enough:

This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

What’s more, a provision of the law that has received almost no media attention would ensure that a certification by the doctor that the patient either did or didn’t “avail herself of the opportunity” to view the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat will go into the woman’s medical record. Whether she wants it there or not. I guess they were all out of scarlet letters in Richmond.

Definitely read the whole thing,

Hacktacular Doesn’t Even Begin Describing This

[ 98 ] February 16, 2012 |

Noted VERY SERIOUS POLITICAL WEBSITE (TM) Politico only employs the finest reporters. Take its political reporter Donovan Slack. In reporting on Obama’s visit to Wisconsin today, she determined to show Obama’s bias toward unions:

WH flies labor flag in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — It’s very clear what side President Obama is on here in Wisconsin.

Behind the stage where he will speak today are two flags: an American one, as usual, and right alongside it — and a flag for the local union, Wisconsin 1848.

What is the flag for Wisconsin Local 1848?

Yes, that’s right–the state flag of Wisconsin. Politico’s political reporter not only didn’t know what the state flag of Wisconsin looked like when she saw it on a stage, not only was she so determined to paint Obama as biased toward labor that she wrote a complete hack job, but she didn’t even realize that there’s no union called “Wisconsin.”

Gary Carter, 1954-2012

[ 25 ] February 16, 2012 |

R.I.P. Great gallery of rare photos here.

I wrote a bit about the Kid when he received the diagnosis last year. He was a really great one; his career was a little short because he was worked so hard in Montreal, but at his peak he was one of the greatest catchers ever. I’m glad that the Nationals reversed their decision not to honor his retried number, and am glad that he will be permanently honored at the Bell Centre as well.

…I was at this game!

…strongly recommend this remembrance from Mitch Melnick. See also Andrew Cohen.

Aspirin Between the Knees

[ 132 ] February 16, 2012 |

Santorum’s billionaire supporter Foster Friess on contraception:

Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.

No, this was contraception back in your day:

Condom wrapper, Texas, 1910.

The best Simpsons episodes

[ 104 ] February 16, 2012 |

In honor of the show’s 500th episode, the Guardian conducted a reader poll to pick the top ten, all of which not surprisingly came from the program’s first decade (yes I too haven’t seen an episode in many years).

A few personal favorites:

Tree house of Horror VII:

Kodos: It’s true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It’s a two-party system. You have to vote for one of us.
Man 1: He’s right, this is a two-party system.
Man 2: Well I believe I’ll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.

Bart Sells His Soul

Lisa: Hmmm, Pablo Neruda said “Laughter is the language of the soul.”
Bart [obviously offended]: I am familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda.

Mr. Burns Runs For Mayor

Mr. Burns: This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That’s democracy for you.
Smithers: You are noble and poetic in defeat, sir.

Lisa’s Rival

Dr. Taylor: Hi Lisa. I’m Alison’s father, Professor Taylor. I’ve heard great things about you.
Lisa: Oh really? I…
Dr. Taylor: Oh, don’t be modest. I’m glad we have someone who can join us in our anagram game.
Alison Taylor: We take proper names and rearrange the letters to form a description of that person.
Dr. Taylor: Like, er… oh, I don’t know, uh… Alec Guinness.
Alison Taylor: [thinking] Genuine class.
Dr. Taylor: Ho ho, very good. Alright Lisa, um… Jeremy Irons.
Lisa: [looks worried] Jeremy’s… iron.
Dr. Taylor: Mm hmm, well, that’s… very good… for a first try. You know what? I have a ball. Perhaps you’d like to bounce it?

Homer v. the 18th Amendment:

Homer: To alcohol . . . the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

Shary Bobbins: (basically the whole episode)

Shary: If there’s a task that must be done,
Don’t turn your tail and run,
Don’t pout, don’t sob,
Just do a half-assed job!

If… you… cut every corner
It is really not so bad,
Everybody does it,
Even mom and dad.
If nobody sees it,
Then nobody gets mad,
Bart: It’s the American way!

Shary: The policeman on the beat
Needs some time to rest his feet.
Wiggum: Fighting crime is not my cup of tea!
Shary: And the clerk who runs the store
Can charge a little more
For meat!
Apu: For meat!
Shary: And milk!
Apu: And milk!
Both: From 1984!

Shary: If… you… cut every corner,
You’ll have more time for play,
Shary & OFF: It’s the American waaaaay!

You Only Move Twice:

4th Grade Teacher: [On Bart’s first day in his new school the teacher discovers he can’t read cursive handwriting] So, you never learned cursive?
Bart: Well, I know “hell” and “damn” and “get ben…”
4th Grade Teacher: No, no! Cursive handwriting! Script! Do you know multiplication tables? Long division?
Bart: I know *of* them.
4th Grade Teacher: [Unimpressed] Hmm.

Lisa the Vegetarian

Lisa: When will all those fools learn that you can be perfectly healthy simply eating vegetables, fruits, grains and cheese.
Apu: Oh, cheese!
Lisa: You don’t eat cheese, Apu?
Apu: No I don’t eat any food that comes from an animal.
Lisa: Ohh, then you must think I’m a monster!
Apu: Yes indeed I do think that. But, I learned long ago Lisa to tolerate others rather than forcing my beliefs on them. You know you can influence people without badgering them always.

And of course “Meat and You” (from the educational film series “Resistance is Futile”):

It titillates your angry parts.

[ 37 ] February 16, 2012 |

One of y’all sent me an email asking why I didn’t argue with Jeff Goldstein anymore. I replied that I just haven’t thought about him in a long time, but that maybe I should take a look around his site … which immediately reminded me exactly why I haven’t thought about him in a long time:

Those in the New Left have spent years entrenching themselves in the information dissemination and academic fields, as well as in the Democratic Party. Is it really so hard to believe that, having worked tirelessly and with cynical political purpose to take over those institutions, they might actually have a plan for how they’d hoped to use their positioning, should they ever achieve a perfect storm of power? That is, that people like Bill Ayers or a host of other Obama mentors who were born of that revolutionary leftist mindset and never renounced it, would have strategies and blueprints for the kind of “fundamental transformation” of the US they have spent their adult lives promoting and then, they hoping, ruling over?

Jeff wants to know whether it’s difficult to imagine that the forces of the New Left currently occupying the White House are following through on a plan devised in the 1960s that’s designed to fundamentally transform America into a country the revolutionary arm of the Left can rule in perpetuity. Except he doesn’t really want to know that — he already assumes it to be true. His rhetorical question is aimed not at his present audience, but at some future conservative one that’s lived under the iron heel of a tyrannical Leftist regime for countless decades. “Bill Ayers” rings like “Judas” in the ears of that audience and “Obama” has because so synonymous with his actions that carpenters carry “an Obama and some nails” to work everyday.

So why don’t I argue with Jeff anymore? Because he’s writing conservative pornography for people who won’t ever exist. If they’re not obliged to read it, I don’t see why I should be.

Grecian Formula

[ 24 ] February 16, 2012 |

Proposition 1: Greece is screwed.

Proposition 2: The implications of proposition 1 can get even uglier than you expect.

Tweeting vs. Liking

[ 6 ] February 16, 2012 |

Anton Strezhnev tries to explain why some posts get more “Likes” and others get more “Tweets” (via Monkey Cage):

Posts that have graphics or are funny are more “likable” while wonkier posts are more “tweetable.” I would add that the first relationship is a bit stronger than the second since its difficult to find a good measure of “wonkiness” (especially since almost all posts on the Monkey Cage are relatively wonky). That the more “tech” categories (Data and IT/Politics) had a positive effect on the Tweet Rating might lend support to Edwin Chen’s argument that the Twitter ecosystem is geared specifically towards technology nerds.

I’m not sure that the results say much about the composition of Facebook vs. Twitter – a lot of people use both. I do, however, think that they may hint at a key difference in the content-sharing incentives behind both services. Facebook is much more graphically-oriented than Twitter.

This accords with my (wholly without empirical substantiation) sense of the relationship between tweets and likes here at LGM; whimsical posts seem to get more of the latter, wonky posts more of the former. It also seems sensible in context of my own social networking behavior, as I view my twitter feed as a much more professional venue than my Facebook page. I know many of my Facebook friends from spaces wholly unrelated to my professional persona, while I expect that most of those who follow me on twitter do so because of my professional/academic/blogospheric work.

Where the Women At?

[ 29 ] February 16, 2012 |

Not at the Issa Inquisition Into Dirty Sluts Who Might Use Contraception in Furtherance of Sexual Behavior Ross Douthat Does Not Approve Of, that’s for sure.

And if it had to be all men, I would suggest that Garry Wills should have been one of the invitees:

Some Republicans are using the bishops’ stupidity to hurt the supposed “moderate” candidate Mitt Romney, giving a temporary leg up to the faux naïf Rick Santorum; others are attacking Barack Obama as an “enemy of religion.”
Pusillanimous Catholics—Mark Shields and even, to a degree, the admirable E. J. Dionne—are saying that Catholics understandably resent an attack on “their” doctrine (even though they do not personally believe in it). Omnidirectional bad-faith arguments have clustered around what is falsely presented as a defense of “faith.” The layers of ignorance are equaled only by the willingness of people “of all faiths” to use them for their own purposes.

The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.

Contraception is not even a religious matter. Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden. Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,” over which natural reason is the arbiter—and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea that contraception is evil. More of that later; what matters here is that contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted even by most Catholics. To say that others must accept what Catholics themselves do not is bad enough. To say that President Obama is “trying to destroy the Catholic Church” if he does not accept it is much, much worse.

Margaret Sanger, Then and Now

[ 6 ] February 16, 2012 |

To continue on the theme of late 19th/early 20th century sexuality and its implications for today, you all must read this absolutely outstanding Michelle Goldberg piece in The Nation on Margaret Sanger’s legacy. Sanger, the godmother of birth control in this country, was motivated to fight for legal contraception because of stories like this:

It was in 1912 in these ghettos that Sanger supposedly encountered Sadie Sachs, a Jewish immigrant who sparked her “awakening” to the necessity of birth control. In speeches and books, Sanger later described nursing Sachs, a 28-year-old mother of three, through the complications of a botched abortion. Sachs had begged the doctor who initially treated her for advice about preventing another pregnancy, saying, “Another baby will finish me.” The doctor’s response was callous: “You want your cake while you eat it too, do you? Well it can’t be done. I’ll tell you the only sure thing to do….Tell Jake to sleep on the roof.” Months later, Sanger returned to the apartment and found Sachs suffering from septicemia, the result of a self-induced abortion.

That slut-shaming doctor of 1912 would be right at home today in a Catholic bishopric or on the podium with Rick Santorum.

But rather than see Sanger as a hero, today she is often shunned because of her flirtation with eugenics. Anti-abortion activists use this to claim that Sanger then (and by proxy, Planned Parenthood today) wanted to commit genocide against black babies.

This issue of eugenics is complicated. From my perspective, the anti-abortion fanatics are hypocrites in who they pin blame for this movement upon. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt used to rave about race suicide and I don’t see modern Republicans selling TR down the river (though Glenn Beck is an exception because he hates the Progressive Era).

Goldberg does an admirable of teasing out the complexity of the eugenic movement, calling it elitist but not necessarily racist. Certainly eugenics was pretty awful, but Goldberg is right. It could be applied racially, but it was not inherently about getting brown people to stop have kids. It was about getting the “unfit” to stop having kids. That did often mean non-whites (applied much more broadly in 1912) but it is more complicated than that. This is an idea with no place in modern America or the world, but in 1912, elitist ideas about the poor were central to the entire Progressive Era. That’s not to apologize for Sanger’s embrace of eugenics, but to place it in proper historical context.

Moreover, Martin Luther King himself was an admirer of Sanger; as Goldberg states, King accepted Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger award in 1966. His speech, delivered by his wife Coretta Scott King noted, “striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts.” In fact, Sanger worked heavily in African-American communities, providing contraceptive services to women who feared dying if they had another child. Among her supporters was the legendary African-American leader Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, who not only invited Sanger into his Abyssinian Baptist Church but openly endorsed birth control.

Right-wing doctors, social scolds, and conservatives have equated birth control with women escaping their rightful punishment for sex. Whether in 1912 or 2012, the attitude is that if the slut doesn’t want to have a kid, she should close her legs; moreover, if she does have sex, whether in marriage or outside marriage, she deserves whatever she gets. Of course, it doesn’t matter why a woman wants contraception: to prevent pregnancy in marriage, to allow her to explore her sexual side without worrying about destroying her life, to regulate her menstruation cycle, etc. None of this matters to the woman-haters who oppose access to contraception. There is no logical position to opposing contraception outside of punishing women. But that’s plenty good enough for too many people, past and present.


[ 48 ] February 16, 2012 |


Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum continues to ride his polling momentum into Ohio where he leads Mitt Romney by nearly two-to-one in the first Rasmussen Reports survey of Republicans in the state.

The new statewide telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary voters shows Santorum picking up 42% of the vote to Romney’s 24%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich draws 13% support, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 10%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.

It’s Rasmussen, which means that ferreting out the intended message is as important as looking at the data, but it’s interesting that Rasmussen only has Santorum up by 3 in Michigan. Frankly, I think it’s time for Lemieux to demonstrate his confidence in Mitt Romney’s inevitably by offering to eat his Expos hat on camera if Romney loses, or some such similar gesture.

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