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“It Means She’s My Property, And I Own Her.”

[ 20 ] October 8, 2015 |

On the media coverage of Matt Barnes’s alleged assault of Derek Fisher, this. Very much this:

Derek Fisher should have known better than to tread on another man’s turf; dating a woman with whom you share an attraction is a bad move because her ex might disapprove; missing a meaningless practice in the aftermath of being confronted in your girlfriend’s home by her enraged, entitled stalker ex is unprofessional. These are takes that mainstream sportswriters—good sportswriters, smart ones—are putting out there in the Year of Our Lord 2015. All of them are rooted in the idea that Gloria Govan is in some way still Matt Barnes’s domain, that Derek Fisher was breaching protocol by not considering Matt Barnes’s territorial rights. This is fucking deranged.

Here are some plain and obvious truths. Derek Fisher did not do anything wrong by dating Gloria Govan, a grown woman who by all accounts wanted to date him and happens not to have technically extricated herself from a bad marriage that functionally ended over a year ago. Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes are not romantic rivals. Going by the reports, the aggression was not mutual; Derek Fisher went to his girlfriend’s house for the purpose of a peaceful get-together, Matt Barnes invaded the home of his ex for the purpose of doing harm. Neither Gloria Govan’s nor Derek Fisher’s romantic lives are any of Matt Barnes’s damn business. Matt Barnes appears to be a fucking psycho. Sportswriters are lost on all of this shit.

When an accused domestic abuser shows up uninvited at a family party to—as a source put it to the New York Post—“beat the shit” out of someone for the offense of dating his ex, that is not a wacky character up to zany shenanigans. It is not reality TV melodrama or a cartoon or celebrities being silly. It is the behavior of a dangerous misogynist lunatic. It is an act of violent aggression. It is a man forcefully asserting personal property rights over a woman’s home, body, and life. It differs from what Ray Rice did in that elevator by degree, not by kind, and not by all that much. It is not fucking funny.


Thou Shalt Not Undermine BENGHAZI, The Greatest Scandal There Absolutely Ever Was With the Possible Exception of Steroids

[ 186 ] October 8, 2015 |

Film The Simpsons


Representative Kevin McCarthy on Thursday abruptly took himself out of the race to succeed John A. Boehner as House speaker, apparently undone by the same forces that drove Mr. Boehner to resign.

Mr. McCarthy’s candidacy was damaged when he suggested in an interview on Fox News last week that the House committee investigating Benghazi had the political aim of damaging Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

As shocked members left the room there was a sense of total disarray, with no clear path forward and no set date for a new vote. Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, said that in dropping out of race, Mr. McCarthy told the room, “I’m not the one to unify the party.”

It’s a real mystery why nobody wants the job of driving this particular clown car.

Today In GOP Outreach to Women

[ 66 ] October 8, 2015 |


Remember the all-too-characteristically atrocious opening scene of The Newsroom in which the heroic newsman proves his genius with a rant from his trite nostalgia file directed against a strawman “sorority girl”? Perhaps John Kasich is using it as a model:

My hand was raised, my body half-way out of my back-row seat, when Gov. John Kasich finally acknowledged me.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any Taylor Swift concert tickets,” he said, his eyes meeting mine.

The older members of the audience chuckled as my friends’ jaws dropped to the floor. It was astonishingly clear that Gov. Kasich did not come to Richmond for my vote.


What continues to strike me is the hypocrisy of his condescension. He touted his ambitious energy as an 18-year-old man, but as soon as I, an 18-year-old woman, exhibited ambition, I became the target of his joke. The same passion that drove Kasich to speak with President Nixon drove me to ask the candidate a question I care deeply about. In a way, I was taking the governor’s advice: “Always ask.”

What a card! Hey, all those arbitrarily disenfranchised voters probably just want to use the voting booths to listen to hippty-hop music anyway.

[People who think that I’m being unfair to Sorkin can view the scene here. You’ll be sorry. I especially admire Sorkin for the classic tell: his male heroes who derie the superficiality of feminine hobbies and interests never fail to note that they’re sports fans. But, in fairness, there was that Olivia Munn character with 42 PhDs.]

Brave, Brave Sir Ben

[ 120 ] October 8, 2015 |


Shorter Ben Carson: “Once, I had someone point a gun at me at Popeye’s. I had the courage to tell him it was OK to shoot the cashier as long as he spared me. This proves we don’t need gun control laws.”

More on Carson’s retrospective armchair courage here.

Nobody Could Have Etc.

[ 126 ] October 8, 2015 |

In breaking news, drug testing welfare recipients is about attacking their privacy and dignity, not about saving money:

Tennessee’s first year of drug testing welfare recipients uncovered drug use by less than 0.2 percent of all applicants for the state’s public assistance system.

The state implemented the testing regime in the summer of 2014, adding three questions about narcotics use to the application form for aid. Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the three drug questions must take a urine test or have their application thrown away immediately. Anyone who fails a urine test must complete drug treatment and pass a second test, or have their benefits cut off for six months.

In total, just 1.6 percent of the 28,559 people who applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits in the first year of testing answered one of the three screening questions positively. Out of the 468 people who peed in a state-funded cup, 11.7 percent flunked the test.

With 55 people testing positive for drugs out of an applicant pool of nearly 30,000, Tennessee’s testing system uncovered that a whopping 0.19 percent of those who applied for aid were drug users. Ultimately, 32 applicants were denied benefits for failing to complete the state’s mandatory drug rehab process for those who test positive.

Tennessee officials say the year of testing cost $11,000, or $200 per failed drug test. But that only accounts for what the state paid to the outside vendor who conducted the actual tests, excluding staff hours that went into processing the new application materials and managing the logistics of testing those who gave an affirmative answer to a screening question.

Seven states that drug test welfare recipients have now spent about $1 million on the tests, according to previous ThinkProgress research. Each state has found drug usage rates among welfare applicants to be far below the national average of 9.4 percent for all Americans.

Biden and Reproductive Freedom

[ 96 ] October 7, 2015 |
20 Sep 1991, Washington, DC, USA --- Senator Joseph Biden holds up the book Order and Law by Charles Fried during the Clarence Thomas hearings. --- Image by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS

20 Sep 1991, Washington, DC, USA — Senator Joseph Biden holds up the book Order and Law by Charles Fried during the Clarence Thomas hearings. — Image by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS

I have argued that dreams of a Biden run for the presidency only have a couple of minor problems, such as that he’s plainly a much worse candidate than Clinton and there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between them on policy. On the latter point, I was being unfair to Clinton:

It’s no secret that Biden is personally a pro-life Catholic. He takes what he believes is a “middle-of-the-road” position on abortion law, as he wrote in his 2007 campaign memoir, Promises to Keep: “I still vote against partial-birth abortion and federal funding, and I’d like to find ways to make it easier for scared young mothers to choose not to have an abortion, but I will also vote against a constitutional amendment that strips a women of her right to make her own choice.” That, at least, was an improvement from 1982, when, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he did vote for a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In 2012, the National Right to Life Committee compiled a report on Biden’s anti-abortion voting record that was intended to highlight what it called Obama’s “extreme pro-abortion positions.” The documentation in the dossier is solid. There is a scan, for example, of a 1994 letter that Biden sent to a Delaware constituent who was concerned that abortion funding would be included in health care reform. “I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate: those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them. As you may know, I have consistently – on no fewer than 50 occasions – voted against federal funding of abortions.”

It must be said in Biden’s defense that Roe would have been overruled had Robert Bork not been defeated, a defeat Biden played a major role in. It must also be said that he seemed cowed by the remarkably successful Republican effort to argue that accurately characterizing Robert Bork’s views was the greatest breach of civility in the history of American political discourse, and his subsequent handling of the Thomas hearings was a disaster for women on every possible level.

Would Biden being worse on reproductive freedom than Clinton as an occupant? Possibly not, although I’m not sure if I would trust him to veto clever anti-abortion legislation that got passed by a Republican Congress like Bill Clinton did. Is there any reason to think he’s a better choice for the Democratic nomination than Hillary Clinton? No.

Among the Most Pathetic of the Worst

[ 175 ] October 7, 2015 |


Lindsey Graham, who has managed the impressive feat of being a nonentity even by the standards of 2016 Republican presidential candidates, is an asshole:

Lindsey Graham is asking for federal aid for his home state of South Carolina as it battles raging floods, but he voted to oppose similar help for New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2013.


Graham was among the Republican senators who opposed a federal aid package in January 2013 to assist states hit by Hurricane Sandy, but now he doesn’t remember why.

“I’m all for helping the people in New Jersey. I don’t really remember me voting that way,” Graham said.

But lots of primary voters hate me, so I must be a moderate!

Anyway, fellow also-sorta-ran Bobby Jindal is not about to be out-assholed by anyone:

In a lengthy blog post published on his presidential campaign website Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) claimed the father of Oregon gunman Chris Harper Mercer was a “complete failure” and demanded that he apologize for the shooting.

In the blog post — titled “We fill Our Culture With Garbage, And We Reap The Result” — Jindal blamed the prevalence of mass shootings in America on “deep and serious cultural decay in our society,” jumping from a condemnation of violence in media and a reference to abortion to a discussion of the reported absence of the father of the Harper Mercer in the young man’s life.

“This killer’s father is now lecturing us on the need for gun control and he says he has no idea how or where his son got the guns,” Jindal wrote. “Of course he doesn’t know. You know why he doesn’t know? Because he is not, and has never been in his son’s life. He’s a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public. He’s the problem here.”

It’s amazing how the United States has vastly worse parents and worse culture than any other liberal democracy, even if the parenting and culture situations are much better than they used to be. At any rate, you can be sure policy has nothing to do with it.

…Ben Carson, Retrospective Armchair Warrior (TM), makes a strong entry:

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson implied Tuesday that the Oregon shooting victims didn’t do enough to save themselves, and that if he himself had been there, he would have been more aggressive in confronting the attacker.

“I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson said on “Fox & Friends,” as seen in the clip above. “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”

It’s amazing how easy it is to be courageous thousands of miles away from and several days after the shootings. At least he didn’t politicize them!

Chantal Akerman

[ 5 ] October 6, 2015 |


More here.

Finally, Someone With the Courage and Originality to Write About New York City in the 70s

[ 99 ] October 6, 2015 |


City on Fire, or “We Didn’t Start the Fire?”

For all I know, Hallberg’s novel is a towering masterpiece of American letters that is being ill-served by the people fawning over it. But the “finally somebody willing to discuss that most underdiscussed era and locale, gritty New York City in the 70s when men were men and artists were artists and muggers were muggers and Times Square had porno theaters and subway cars had graffiti” vibe of the reviews makes my bullshit detector go to about 50. (What potential reader of the book doesn’t know the things about the city in the 70s that Kakutani cites as examples of Hallberg’s attention to period detail?)

So, You’re Offering George W. Bush With More Tax Cuts?

[ 92 ] October 6, 2015 |


Rubio’s answer to the question of whether he disagrees with Romney or G. W. Bush about anything is indeed priceless:

Well, we’re in a different era. For example, my policies are about taking free enterprise and limited government, but applying them to the unique challenges of the 21st century. So you’ll hear me spend a tremendous amount of time talking about higher-education reform. Our higher-education model is outdated. And I proposed concrete bipartisan ideas about how to fix some of those things. We’re in an era now of increased global competition where America no longer can put in place policies because we think ideologically it’s a good or bad idea. The fundamental question is does it make us competitive again. And on many of those issues, I’ve offered solutions and ideas that no Republican’s ever talked about before because they were not part of the 20th century debate.

I’ll take these words next to each other as a “no.” In addition, I will observe that there’s a long history of both politicians and pundits using the march of time as a substitute for an argument. My favorite example of this is Joe Klein’s assertion that while Social Security was fine for the “industrial age” we need private accounts for the “information age.” So, work is becoming less stable and less likely to offer pension benefits, so we need public pensions…less? What? Somehow, it makes even less sense than Rubio’s “to respond to the unique challenges of the 21st century, we need the upper-class tax cuts and wars Republicans brought to the 20th and all previous years of the 21st century.”

Supreme Court History: THE MOVIE

[ 20 ] October 6, 2015 |

As both an educator and quasi-journalist whose specialty is judicial politics, this looks potentially useful. I will be upset, however, if the films do not involve a lot of historical re-enactments.

Brilliant filmmaking, even if it lets Marshall off the hook for showing insufficient deference to the equal sovereign dignitude of the states. Now pipe down or I’ll CLAMP YOU IN IRONS.

The End of Many Errors

[ 108 ] October 5, 2015 |

Matt Williams

Hmm, who was the most incompetent coach/manager fired today? Well, we can start with Matt Williams. I’m very disappointed. I was looking forward to the inevitable incident next year in which Williams asked Bryce Harper to bunt a runner from second to third with one out on a 3-0 count, popped it up, was stabbed three times in the dugout by Jon Papelbon for NOT PLAYING THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY, Papelbon was arrested after being sent in to pitch the next inning, and Lee Judge argues that while of course Harper deserved the stabbing it should have been done in the clubhouse by Ryan Zimmerman.

The Nationals were probably right to keep Rizzo, although his decision to hire Williams in the first place was foolish.* Meanwhile, enjoy this article about the Nationals unraveling, and this recounting some of Williams’s greatest hits.

But how about we also give it up for Mr. Joe Philbin? (I also urge Ryan Tannehill to record “ENJOY YOUR PRACTICE SQUAD PAYCHECK!” as a ringtone.) With the Rams yesterday assisting in making my assessment of the NFC West look a little less stupid, I should acknowledge that my picking the Dolphins second in the division was really dumb at the time. I of all people should have realized that the team was not going to realize its potential with a coach inexplicably kept after two straight years of underachievement. And while Philbin didn’t deserve to keep his job, if you aren’t committed enough to a coach to keep him after a bad 4-game start you shouldn’t have let him start the year.

While we’re discussing AFC East coaching, it really looks like the Jets made a good hire with Bowles. Getting Rex Ryan’s defensive mind without the ludicrous number of stupid penalties is a coup.

*I’m sure that, say, Willie Randolph and Dusty Baker would be thrilled to read about the “process” that led to the hiring of a completely unqualified candidate. “Well, I knew him in Arizona and he seemed very gritty and hardnosed.”

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