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Archive for May, 2013

A Box of Grass

[ 20 ] May 31, 2013 |

The country music response to the hippies led to many songs that ranged from belligerent to hilarious to bizarre. Such as Buck Jones’ “A Box of Grass.”

Foreign Entanglements: Able Archer 83

[ 0 ] May 31, 2013 |

On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, Nate Jones and I go over the latest from National Security Archive…

Coal Companies Eliminate Pensions

[ 68 ] May 31, 2013 |

A couple of months ago, I noted how coal giant Peabody Coal had created a spinoff corporation called Patriot Coal with the explicit mission of sending it toward bankruptcy in order to eliminate 20,000 pensions.

A Missouri bankruptcy judge has ruled in favor of Patriot here. Mike Elk with more:

Unless the parties come to another agreement, the ruling means that Patriot Coal’s healthcare obligations will be turned over to the Voluntary Employees Benefits Association (VEBA), a fund that would be administered by the union. According to the UMWA, Patriot will only guarantee to pay in a total of $15 million, plus $0.20 per ton of coal mined, which the UMWA calculates will cover only $5 million a year in retiree benefits. Retiree healthcare for Patriot Coal’s 20,000 beneficiaries currently costs $7 million a month, the union says.

According to the UMWA, Patriot Coal has offered the union a 35 percent stake in the company that the union can choose to sell in order to better fund the VEBA. The union, however, says that “since the current and future value of the company is unknown, there is no way of knowing how much money this could provide for healthcare benefits or when such funding would be available.” The company has also proposed a profit-sharing mechanism to help fund VEBA, the UMWA says, but it estimates the plan would provide only an additional $2 million a year.

Basically, another judge has conspired with corporate America to send thousands of old people into poverty.

Battery Recycling

[ 7 ] May 31, 2013 |

As I’ve said before, the recycling business can be pretty nasty. We say something is “recycled,” which really means “I think I did something good and now I don’t have to pay attention to my role in the consumer chain.” But the reality is that once we put stuff in those nice green bins that our sanitation workers pick up or put an old phone in a box or I dispose of a car battery in way we are told is responsible, anything can happen and often does. Here’s a good piece on the problems with battery recycling and lead contamination, in the United States and around the world.

Given the very real effects of lead contamination on populations, exposing the impoverished people near these sites to lead could even lead to a higher chance of children becoming criminals.

“I’m Not the Girl with the Apples Growing Out of Her Head” is What I Would Have Said

[ 112 ] May 31, 2013 |

LGM: Platinum Edition

Well, it’s official: I’m official. I’m now a rich and famous artist and can bid all you chumps adieu.

But it’s not all cocaine and hookers for me; I also suffered a loss. I was robbed of a great joke by the jerks who are hosting my art.

See, the store owners asked for a picture they could put alongside my artist’s bio, and I sent them one. I checked the page obsessively after that, as my need for attention and validation knows no bounds…only to find they’d put a picture of one of my pieces up in place of–temporarily–my bio picture. At first, I was like “Well, maybe they thought my ugly mug would drive away business.” But about a nanosecond after that, I was like “This is going to be an LGM post. Somehow.” And, so, long story short, I was going to direct you to the page, then assure you all that I do not have apples growing out of my head. And then we all would have laughed– a sustained, healing laugh that would have made the world a better place.  Alas, there will be no laughter, only bitter tears wept for a joke untold.

ANYHOO, if you’ve got a few hundred bucks burning a hole in your pocket, The Crabby Lion people–who are actually really really lovely–have said they’re willing to ship. If you don’t have a few hundred bucks to spare, I’ll just assume it’s Obama’s fault and join the Tea Party. I’m not saying this will be on your heads, but I’m not NOT saying it.

 

The Ultimate Slatepitch

[ 320 ] May 31, 2013 |

Um, no.

Showgirls, as certain critical circles have begun to embrace, is not “so bad it’s good.” Showgirls is good, or perhaps great, full stop. But one of the more intriguing things about the film is that it has so widely and so consistently been misunderstood by critics and audiences alike, despite the fact that its director, Paul Verhoeven, made a career in Hollywood out of highly commercial satires that freely indulge in the trash they’re mocking. It’s a constant throughout Verhoeven’s career: nearly every one of his American films, each of which is fiercely intelligent and provocative in its own way, was received at the time of its release with a combination of confusion and contempt, each in turn not so much rejected as a failure as, more frustratingly, dismissed as unworthy of serious thought.

Has Slate already signed Calum Marsh to a multiyear contract?

Canada: Pivot to Where?

[ 46 ] May 30, 2013 |

In my latest at the Diplomat I offer unsolicited, probably unwelcome advice to our neighbor to the north:

NATO, and the capabilities that Canada has developed in order to effectively participate in NATO operations, will likely hold less relevance for Canadian strategic interests in the future than it has in the past. In particular, the decision to pursue the F-35 seems questionable. Canada initially expected to purchase 65 F-35s for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). The procurement of these aircraft would represent an enormous commitment of Canadian financial resources, and would result in a small, high end Air Force not particularly well-suited to managing any of Canada’s apparent security needs. RCAF F-35s may well perform very impressively at the forefront of NATO’s next bombing campaign over Serbia, but given the high expense, the Canadian people probably need a better rationale. Little wonder then that the Harper government is reevaluating the purchase of these jets.

Furnishing Color

[ 53 ] May 30, 2013 |

There haven’t been enough forestry posts here lately and since it’s been determined that my interest in extremely obscure things that no one else in the world cares about is what’s allowing this blog to break the trend of liberal media to lose followers in recent months, here’s something especially tasty.

In 1965, the Willamette National Forest (which is the national forest in the Cascades in the mid-portion of the state west of the mountain crest) published its timber management plan. In 1965, all the United States Forest Service cared about was cutting timber, but they had to pay lip service to the idea of multiple-use, which meant pretending to care about tourism. This is what the plan said about clearcutting:

“Clearcuts break the monotony of the scene, and deciduous brush in these areas furnish fall color and spring flowers for at least 10-15 years.”

Can’t you see the beauty?

Henry Morgentaler, 1923-2013

[ 62 ] May 30, 2013 |

I believe, however, that the flaw in the present legislative scheme goes much deeper than that. In essence, what it does is assert that the woman’s capacity to reproduce is not to be subject to her own control. It is to be subject to the control of the state. She may not choose whether to exercise her existing capacity or not to exercise it. This is not, in my view, just a matter of interfering with her right to liberty in the sense (already discussed) of her right to personal autonomy in decision-making, it is a direct interference with her physical “person” as well. She is truly being treated as a means — a means to an end which she does not desire but over which she has no control. She is the passive recipient of a decision made by others as to whether her body is to be used to nurture a new life. Can there be anything that comports less with human dignity and self-respect? How can a woman in this position have any sense of security with respect to her person? I believe that s. 251 of the Criminal Code deprives the pregnant woman of her right to security of the person as well as her right to liberty.

R. v. Morgentaler (Wilson, J., concurring)

Henry Morgentaler passed away earlier this week.

In the least important impact Morgentaler would have, he is indirectly the reason why I do what I do.   The landmark Supreme Court opinion — which I still vividly remember being handed down — he was responsible for is the direct source of  my interest in reproductive freedom and constitutional law, which has obviously turned into a career.

The impact of his work on the freedom of Canadian women, however, was both massive and clearly positive.   His clinics were civil disobedience in the best sense — he believed that women without connections should have the same access to safe abortions that affluent women did, and he trusted juries to do the right thing:

Dr. Henry Morgentaler not only changed abortion law in Canada, but his experience in the courts led to the establishment of an important legal protection that applies to all Canadians: Never again will a judge be able to simply toss out a jury acquittal and replace it with a conviction.

Morgentaler, who died yesterday at age 90, always said that no jury of reasonable people would ever find him guilty of a crime just because he provided women with safe abortions, and he was right.

The fight he took to the Supreme Court would ultimately ensure that safe providers did not have to risk prosecution. I will have more on this when I’m done conferencing, but the opinion is worth reading as well — not only Bertha Wilson’s famous explicitly concurrence, but the plurality opinions that do a very careful job explaining the fundamental irrationality and inequity of “moderate” regulations of abortion.

A great man. R.I.P.

Today in the Coming Republican Coalition

[ 192 ] May 30, 2013 |

Like every day, the Republicans are moving forward in their plans to stay relevant in the 21st century.

We have Phyllis Schlafly calling for a return to openly white supremacist politics.

Erick Erickson is saying that female breadwinners are defying nature.

Tea Partiers are making jokes about shooting Susan Collins
.

In other words, a normal day in the coming Republican coalition.

A Reminder

[ 55 ] May 30, 2013 |

Bans on abortion are barbaric. And treat women as second-class citizens.

 

Must Be the Cat Boxing Videos

[ 72 ] May 30, 2013 |

It seems there’s a general decline in the liberal media since the election, both at MSNBC and on liberal blogs.

On the other hand, LGM readership is up slightly since the election and saw none of the expected post-election readership slump.

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