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Archive for August, 2012

Politico FTW

[ 62 ] August 20, 2012 |

Leave it to the geniuses at Politico to win the award for Worst Media Response to Todd Akin’s rape comments. Dave Catanese stepped up to the plate on this one:

Catanese tweeted that Akin’s comments, while poorly phrased, were worth discussing.

“So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC sake?” he said. “So looks like he meant to say — ‘If a woman was REALLY raped, it’s statistically less likely for her to get pregnant.’ What’s the science?”

Contrary to Akin’s claims, around 32,000 women get pregnant every year after being raped.

Catanese also took issue with Democrats’ reaction to Akin’s comments.

“The left is often 1st to shut down debate as “off limits” when it deems so. Aren’t these moments supposed to open up a larger debate?”

Yes, the “left” is clearly the problem here! I mean, the left also won’t allow serious discussions of whether Jim Crow was good policy. Why won’t the left respect the First Amendment!


Well, They *Should* Be Defending Akin

[ 126 ] August 20, 2012 |

I was a little disappointed that in the immediate aftermath of Akin’s “legitimate rape” non-gaffe with the exception of Dana Loesch conservatives were cagey enough to criticize Akin for saying the quiet part loud. (After all, anti-choice cranks might move them…to A BIGGER HOUSE!) So surely Glenn Reynolds would get the memo. After all, he’s just a nonpartisan “quirky liberal” who is oddly considered a conservative Republican just because of his support for ruinous wars against countries that pose no security threat to the United States, massive upper-class tax cuts, dismantling the welfare state, etc. etc. Nominal social liberalism is his cover! Surely this will be the first case in years where he unequivocally criticizes a Republican? Here’s his response, in its entirety:

BY THE TIME I NOTICED THIS STORY, IT WAS OVER, but Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks pale in comparison with Whoopi Goldberg’s.

UPDATE: Here’s the Whoopi Goldberg “Rape-Rape” Video.

So, to conclude, we shouldn’t care about the 13th century gender politics of a member of Congress who is currently running for Senate, but the (very offensive but no more offensive) comments of a talk show host from 2 years ago remain a major story that preemptively exonerate anything that a Republican might say. Right. Although I must say I was appalled when the Whoopi Goldberg was made the Democratic candidate for governor.

For the less passive-aggressive version, see the sidekick of everyone’s favorite neoconfederate, who defends Akin by going on about how “[t]his is not mature liberty for the mind; this is slavery to the crotch” and “Todd Akin, himself, is treated to a 65-year late abortion by the Left for offering an argument pertaining to 1% of abortions.” He is not a crackpot.

Anyway, the defenses make sense — what Akin was fundamentally doing is making the subtext text. As Garance Franke-Ruta notes, his misogynist lies have an extensive pedigree within the anti-choice movement. The Republican Party has made its bed; Akin is just making the bedroom glass transparent.

Tony Scott

[ 21 ] August 20, 2012 |

Tony Scott RIP. Not a great director, but I certainly enjoyed some of his movies.

“Alcohol May Have Played a Role”

[ 75 ] August 19, 2012 |

There is no way in which this is not awesome:

The FBI probed a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee that involved drinking, numerous GOP freshmen lawmakers, top leadership staff – and one nude member of Congress, according to more than a dozen sources, including eyewitnesses.

During a fact-finding congressional trip to the Holy Land last summer, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took off his clothes and jumped into the sea, joining a number of members, their families and GOP staff during a night out in Israel, the sources told POLITICO. Other participants, including the daughter of another congressman, swam fully clothed while some lawmakers partially disrobed. More than 20 people took part in the late-night dip in the sea, according to sources who took part in the trip…

…These GOP sources confirmed the following freshmen lawmakers also went swimming that night: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Many of the lawmakers who ventured into the ocean said they did so because of the religious significance of the waters. Others said they were simply cooling off after a long day. Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in.

Obviously a nonsense story, except that if reports emerged of similar behavior on a Democratic junket Jennifer Rubin would have an online heart attack…


[ 73 ] August 19, 2012 |

There are indeed a substantial number of erroneous arguments in Niall Ferguson’s profoundly embarrassing op-ed, but I thought I’d focus on this one:

Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.

There are people willing to assert that the only taxes people pay are federal income taxes. There are people who have some business being paid to write essays. And there’s certainly no overlap between these two categories.

I could proceed to talk about his ridiculous claims that the ACA did nothing to address Medicare costs (oddly, the candidate Ferguson favors seems unaware of this), or his foolish assertions about Paul Ryan, but really, after that addressing his argument further would be superfluous. It’s a Renew America column with a marginally larger vocabulary.

Incidentally, Ferguson shows up in Annie Lowrey’s piece about conservative “intellectuals” who are bowled over by Paul Ryan. It seems odd that a transparent fraud like Ryan could get the reputation as some sort of wonk, but when you see what passes for an intellectual in Republican circles it starts to make sense.

see also. And also.

…and definitely this.

Digging himself deeper.

Midrats Today

[ 3 ] August 19, 2012 |

This afternoon I’ll be on Midrats with EagleOne and CDR Sal.  We’ll talk politics, strategy, AirSea Battle, what not, and so forth.  Coincidentally, I just read this excellent Harold Winton article on Army-Air Force collaboration 1973-1990.  Key points:

The relative cohesion and strength of the Army-Air Force partnership from 1973 to 1990 can be attributed in rough priority to:

  • the unifying effect of the NATO defense mission;
  • the close cooperation of personalities at or near the top of each service;
  • a leadership shift in the Air Force that put fighter rather than bomber pilots in the majority of influential positions; and
  • the clarity of the Army’s vision of how it intended to fight a future war that tended to pull the Air Force in its wake.

…There was, however, also a set of forces that tended to pull the services in opposite directions. These included:

  • the operational differences between the media in which they fight;
  • the cultural implications these differences engender;
  • varying institutional structures for doctrinal formulation; and
  • the capabilities of emerging technology.

Worth thinking about in context of USN-USAF cooperation in the Pacific.

In Conclusion, We Must Remember to Respect the Superior Morality of the Anti-Choice Movement

[ 75 ] August 19, 2012 |

Claire McCaskill’s opponent, ladies and gentlemen:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

I assume this is unnecessary for our readership, but in fact “[r]ape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.”

…Useful context here. And this is right:

Michael Kinsley famously defined a gaffe as “when a politician tells the truth — some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” This election season, Republican politicians have offered a variation on this principle: They’re getting in trouble for saying some obvious truth about what they actually believe about women, baring the ignorance, contemptvand cruelty therein instead of pretending this is about protecting women or babies.

Meanwhile, Dana Loesch has said the dumbest thing that will ever be said until the next time a Brietbart crony says something, which I’m sure won’t stop those CNN checks from rolling in.

Ryan/Akin ’16!

“You mean this morning, or generally?”

[ 43 ] August 19, 2012 |

When judges stop being polite and start getting real:

Judge Lucy Koh couldn’t take it anymore after seeing a 75-page rebuttal witness list from Apple in court Thursday, saying that Apple lawyer Bill Lee must be “smoking crack” to offer such a lengthy list for the what remains of the 25 hours each side has to make their case to the court.

As CNET reported, Koh’s outburst ran as follows: “I mean, come on. Seventy-five pages! Seventy-five pages! You want me to do an order on 75 pages, (and) unless you’re smoking crack, you know these witnesses aren’t going to be called when you have less than four hours.”

In response, Lee said he was not, in fact, smoking crack.

Via Lawspider.

In Fairness, It’s Not Like There Are Pressing Public Issues To Worry About

[ 33 ] August 18, 2012 |

Apparently working for Chuck Schumer is like having your most irritating busybody relative for a boss. Only when it’s your boss his intrusions into things that are none of his inherent concern are not merely irritating but highly inappropriate.

It looks like I’m going to need another sponsor for my proposed “Mind Your Own Goddamned Business Act,” which among other provisions would require anybody who wants to badger a couple about having kids to cut them a check for $200,000 first.

Ryan’s Trojan Horse

[ 57 ] August 18, 2012 |

As an addendum to yesterday’s post, I think K-Drum is conceding way too much here:

There are plenty of things to dislike about Ryan’s 2013 plan, but the truth is that it’s not that bad. I doubt very much that it would hold down costs without other mechanisms in place, since it relies primarily on competition between insurance companies, and insurance companies simply aren’t the main source of high healthcare costs in the United States.

Saying that voucherizing Medicare merely wouldn’t “hold down costs” is far too charitable. In fact, the evidence is unambiguous that voucherizing Medicare would increase costs all things being equal, since private insurers are clearly less efficient than actually existing Medicare. And, moreover, Ryan/Wyden would place increasing pressure to abandon superior government-provided health care, and the constituencies this would create would put immense pressure on future governments to make New Coke Medicare a better deal for insurers and a worse one for the people it’s supposed to cover. And here’s where Ryan’s 2012 version remains relevant: his goal is the complete dismemberment of Medicare. He presumably believes that his 2013 would be a substantial step in this direction — and I think he’s clearly right about that (and Wyden, whose participation in this con remains utterly mystifying, is wrong.)

In a similar vein, Matt Stoller responds to my point that describing Ryan/Wyden as the “Dem policy” is wrong, for the obvious reason that it is not in fact the Democratic policy in any meaningful sense. Needless to say, Stoller doesn’t provide the evidence he needs — that is, Obama or someone in the Democratic congressional leadership endorsing the voucherization of Medicare. Which isn’t surprising, since if the Democrats wanted something like Ryan 2013, they could have gotten it when they controlled both houses of Congress in 2010. So what is the basis for calling premium support the “Dem policy”?

Jonathan Gruber, the most influential health care policy wonk in the Dem party, supports it.

On its face, this is silly — a policy not supported by the incumbent Democratic administration or the Democratic leadership in either House is “Dem policy” because an “influential wonk” supports it? Right. But it gets worse — what does Gruber actually have to say about whether voucherizing Medicare is the right policy right now in the link Stoller provides?

“I think, ultimately, something like Ryan-Wyden is a good place to be, but not yet,” Gruber said. “In the long run, it’s a very good model. But right now we’re not good enough at risk adjustment and we have a plan that is working for seniors. Why rip that up and start over?”

In other words, even the “influential wonk” doesn’t favor replacing with Medicare with “premium support” as of now. He might support it in the future, apparently, if we realize a (probably over-)optimistic scenario in which the ACA produces a tolerable replication of single-payer with private insurance, like the Swiss system. As with Drum, I think this is conceding too much. But for the time being, even if we assume that “Dem policy” is unilaterally determined by Jonathan Gruber, the Democratic policy is to preserve Medicare. The only reason to say otherwise is if you’re committed enough to blurring huge gulfs between Democrats and Republicans that you’re actually willing to assert that electing the man who put Paul Ryan on the ticket might be “modestly good” because “he’s more liberal than people think.”

UPDATE: Kevin’s follow-up does properly eviscerate Ryan 2013.

“He does not cast off talent lightly. He heaves it away with great force.”

[ 40 ] August 18, 2012 |

Where your tuition dollars may be going these days: hiring expensive bureaucrats to ensure that your student newspaper has more proactive strategic dynamism and less journalism. In particular, one assumes, stories that “liable” any powerful interest by uncovering unflattering facts about them are to be avoided.

Silent Film Notes

[ 31 ] August 17, 2012 |

I had a bit of a silent comedy fest last night. I watched Just Neighbors with Harold Lloyd, Hustling for Health with Stan Laurel, and Kid Auto Races at Venice, Calif., with Charlie Chaplin. A few notes:

1. I liked Just Neighbors the least and have always found Lloyd a bit hard to warm up to. On the other hand, I enjoyed Hustling for Health a great deal, even though it’s hardly an excellent movie. But they both remind me of two comedy themes we just don’t see as much anymore–people being sprayed in the face with water and the destruction of people’s hats.

Since people don’t wear hats much anymore, I guess that makes sense. But getting sprayed in the face with water, does that ever get old? Luckily, we still have the theme of people getting shoved into swimming pools going strong.

Also, I think Farley’s Bloggingheads appearances would be a lot funnier if someone came in and stomped on his hat.

2. I know that people wore a lot makeup in silent films. But Stan Laurel looks like a raccoon in Hustling for Health. With his crooked teeth, he just looks really weird in the movie. Also, stealing food out of people’s homes is always good for a laugh or two.

3. Here’s Kid Auto Races:

This is notable for Chaplin’s first appearance as the Tramp. It’s really a strange little film, largely consisting of Chaplin trying to stand in front of a camera. I’ve seen quite a few early Chaplin films though and it’s interesting to watch the development of the character. In its first years, the Tramp was basically a big asshole. A couple of months ago, I spent an evening watching Chaplin’s so-called park films from I think 1914. In these, Chaplin hangs out in a park smoking and drinking and hitting on women. Usually, he tries to take other men’s girlfriends, he throws rocks at cops, and he pushes people into lakes. They range from bad to reasonably funny. But he’s so far away from the sweet and sublime character that really comes into focus by 1921’s The Kid and certainly by The Gold Rush. Since we don’t much watch early Chaplin shorts these days, it’s revealing to watch him create a character over a series of years. Maybe he played the same character in every film, but one can hardly say it was the same character from start to finish.

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