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Salads Are Overrated If You Ignore Most Salads

[ 73 ] August 25, 2015 |

355430Above: A salad.  Nutritous.

This is a very strange argument:

There’s one food, though, that has almost nothing going for it. It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate.

It’s salad, and here are three main reasons why we need to rethink it.

Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources.

I concede the point — if you arbitrarily limit your definition of “salad vegetables” to “vegetables that aren’t very nutritious,” then salad “has nothing going for it.” A diner salad consisting of iceberg lettuce and cucumbers covered in Kraft French dressing is indeed pretty much empty calories.

But why the hell would you limit the definition of “salad” to this? Salads that use a base of spinach, kale, field greens, cabbage and carrots — very nutritious! Many other ingredients you could add to this — tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, hearts of palm — also more nutritious than iceberg lettuce! Many or all of these ingredients are almost certainly available in your plain vanilla local supermarket.  Combine decent olive oil, some combination of vinegar and lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and your favorite herb and you have a good dressing. Most salads are nutritious and tasty as both main courses and side dishes.

Saying that salads are bad because one particular salad isn’t very nutritious makes exactly as much sense as saying that since iceberg lettuce isn’t very nutritious vegetables are massively overrated.

In fairness, point #2 is much more sound: the word “salad” on a chain restaurant menu often entails a dish with not more more in nutrients and more calories than a burger and fries. But the framing of the article is deeply strange.


[ 82 ] August 24, 2015 |

Shorter Republican Party: Anti-immigration policies cannot fail, they can only be failed.

Hammer the Ginger Hammer

[ 106 ] August 24, 2015 |


Joe Thomas is the latest player to go after the NFL’s reprehensible commissioner over Ballghazi:

Joe Thomas does not think the punishment fits the crime in the Deflategate saga.

“I would equate what [Tom Brady] did to driving 66 [mph] in a 65 speed zone, and getting the death penalty,” Thomas said Sunday after the Cleveland Browns’ training camp practice.

Cleveland Browns All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas further expounded on his distaste on how Roger Goodell is handling the Tom Brady “DeflateGate” case.

The Pro Bowl left tackle said Brady does not even deserve to be fined, but added that what Goodell is doing is “brilliant.”

“I’m not sure if he realizes what he’s doing is brilliant, but what he’s doing is brilliant because he’s made the NFL relevant 365 [days] by having these outrageous, ridiculous witch hunts,” Thomas said. “It’s made the game more popular than ever and it’s become so much more of an entertainment business and it’s making so much money.

Following Antonio Cromartie and (a little more ambiguously) the incomparable Richard Sherman, I wonder if Goodell has abused his authority enough to arouse the NFLPA from its typical quiescent slumber. For Goodell to uphold his own ruling imposing a massively disproportionate punishment for an offense absolutely nobody considered important ex ante despite a notable lack of evidence that the trivial violation even occurred is so substantively and procedurally indefensible that players have to be noticing that they could all be arbitrarily singled out for huge fines and career interruptions for no particular reason. This should be a major issue in the next round of negotiations.

Indeed, Goodell’s case is such a joke that you have to wonder if the NFL will be permitted to impose the suspension at all, despite the weak protections in the CBA. The rough ride the NFL has gotten even in their judicial venue of choice makes it increasingly unlikely that Brady will be out of the lineup opening day.

Bill Kristol Is Making Sense

[ 113 ] August 23, 2015 |

Hey, when he’s right, he’s right!

Are we sure the GOP isn’t on course to nominating their very own Dukakis? Are we confident one of the current field is up to the job of winning—and governing?

No. No we certainly are not.

Now, from this rare accurate insight certainly proceeds some silliness. Some of his suggested alternatives:

Mitch Daniels was probably the most successful Republican governor of recent times, with federal executive experience to boot.

The idea of Mitch Daniels’s charisma parade entering the Republican race gives me a feeling of helpless fear.

Paul Ryan is the intellectual leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, with national campaign experience.

Sadly, I think he means the former as a compliment and the latter as something other than disqualifying. Wrong, and wrong again.

The House also features young but tested leaders like Jim Jordan, Trey Gowdy and Mike Pompeo.

“Tested” doesn’t help much given the “failed.” Also, seriously, Trey Gowdy? [Insert Banghazi acrostic here.]

But all this is a sideshow. I present to you know the most correct thing that Bill Kristol will ever write:

And there are distinguished conservative leaders from outside politics; Justice Samuel Alito…

Let me be clear: I cannot possibly endorse this more strongly. Alito should run. He should be the nominee. The discussion should be over. And needless to say the ticket should be balanced with the nation’s most prominent African-American conservative. ALITO/THOMAS ’16! Make it happen.


The War on Social Security

[ 36 ] August 22, 2015 |


…is, as Helaine Olen observes, also a war on women:

Social Security is rightly viewed as a program that provides economic security for all Americans in their old age. But who is most likely to benefit from it? From the time an American can first claim eligibility at age 62, the majority of those receiving a Social Security check in retirement are female—56 percent to start off, to be specific. But because women outlive men, that discrepancy grows only larger with time. By age 85, about two-thirds of the recipients are women.

Moreover, women—who earn less than men and take more pauses from the workforce (due in part to their assumption of caretaking duties for everyone from children to elderly relatives)—are more dependent on Social Security for their economic well-being in their final years than their male peers are. According to the National Women’s Law Center, 30 percent of women 65 or older rely on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income. Men? Only 23 percent are so reliant. And women’s checks are smaller, too. The average retired female worker receives more than $300 less a month from Social Security than a male one.

Viewed all together, this leaves women more likely to suffer from any cutbacks in Social Security, even the most innocent-sounding ones. Take a look at calls to change the formula to determine annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security payments, a position supported by, for example, Ted Cruz.

This is one of the many reasons to oppose radical efforts by Republicans to end Social Security,* and it’s also one of many reasons to oppose the Chained CPI proposals floated by Obama. Politically, Democrats need to position themselves as the party of strengthening and expanding Social Security, period. It’s good policy and good politics.

*George W. Bush did not just run on privatizing Social Security in his 2004 campaign but in his 2000 one, exhibit ZZZ showing why people who insist that there was no way of knowing how conservative he was ex ante just didn’t know what they were talking about.

Friday Links: UNINTIMIDATED Edition

[ 81 ] August 21, 2015 |

Let Them Eat States’ Rights!

[ 19 ] August 21, 2015 |

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Scott Walker has an EXCITING NEW HEALTH CARE PLAN featuring such diverse elements as effectively destroying state regulations, removing most federal regulations, and withdrawing much of the subsidies that would otherwise go to the non-wealthy. The question among Republicans is whether his plan is acceptable or outright communism:

Walker’s politics are not about small government. After all, he thinks that abortion should be illegal even when necessary to save a woman’s life, and he just approved a $250 million gift of taxpayer money to hedge fund billionaires to build a basketball stadium. Rather, his politics are about assisting the rich and powerful at the expense of the poorer and less powerful.

His health care plan is no exception. Like the ACA, Walker’s plan would offer tax credits to allow people to purchase insurance. But Walker’s tax credits would be distributed on the basis of age, not income. The result, as Jeffrey Young and Jon Cohn demonstrate, would be a disaster for the non-affluent, as insurance would become unaffordable for many people at any age. And in addition, Walker also advocates savage cuts to Medicaid. The callousness Walker showed in refusing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin is reflected in his health care plans.

So Walker’s plan would be an utter disaster if implemented. But it’s not just about Walker. Amazingly, some conservative candidates and pundits attacked Walker’s plan from the right. A spokesman for also-ran candidate Bobby Jindal accused Walker of collaborating with Bernie Sanders to create a plan that would make health care far less accessible to the non-rich.

Essentially, Republicans look at the state of health care circa 2009 — in which more than 16 percent of Americans were uninsured, and in which insurance companies could abuse consumers in a number of ways — and argue that even fewer Americans should have insurance and the quality of the insurance should be much worse. This is one of the many reasons that the contemporary Republican Party is simply unfit to govern at the national level.

At this point, rather than go to the trouble of writing up a whole series of planks, the 2016 Republican economic platform should just consist of a restaurant receipt from a dinner for 6 lobbyists at the Capital Grille with “get a six figure job, parasite” written in the “tip” section.

Winnowing in 2016

[ 66 ] August 21, 2015 |


Interesting point by Bernstein:

The first test for the announced candidates has arrived. Perry’s campaign, we learned Monday night, is broke and has stopped paying staffers. As of now, however, the team is pledging to carry on, in part because Perry’s super-PAC still has plenty of money. Politico also suggests that Rand Paul and Rick Santorum are hanging on partly because of super-PACs.

If the normal winnowing doesn’t happen in this cycle, that’s a big deal. It could undercut the party’s influence over who gets the nomination. Typically, only candidates with significant support and little strong opposition among party actors have a realistic chance of winning. Party influence depends on stable, predictable rules and practices, and if this has changed — if, for example, most of the 17 Republican candidates remain in the race well into the caucuses and primaries — then almost anything could happen.

I also agree that we should be careful before assuming that super-PACS will substantially alter the winnowing process in primaries. (In Perry’s case specifically, I’d be very surprised if he was still around for Iowa.) But at a minimum, the larger amounts of money sloshing around have to effect how the invisible primary plays out.

And, of course, Trump — independently financed, and with no real roots within the Republican Party — is sui generis. He can stay in and probably attract at least some support for as long as he wants. I still don’t think there’s any chance he can win the nomination, but his presence will still affect the process.

Front Page Rape Fantasies and the American Prison

[ 52 ] August 20, 2015 |

Fishkill Correctional Facility_0

Evidently, spokesman even Subway doesn’t deserve Jared Fogle is a very bad person who has committed crimes that merit substantial prison time. Nonetheless, using your newspaper’s front page to express your wishes that he gets raped in prison is depraved.

It’s this kind of cavalier attitude toward the physical security of prisoners that leads to abuses like this:

On the evening of April 21 in Building 21 at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, Samuel Harrell, an inmate with a history of erratic behavior linked to bipolar disorder, packed his bags and announced he was going home, though he still had several years left to serve on his drug sentence.

Not long after, he got into a confrontation with corrections officers, was thrown to the floor and was handcuffed. As many as 20 officers — including members of a group known around the prison as the Beat Up Squad — repeatedly kicked and punched Mr. Harrell, who is black, with some of them shouting racial slurs, according to more than a dozen inmate witnesses. “Like he was a trampoline, they were jumping on him,” said Edwin Pearson, an inmate who watched from a nearby bathroom.

Mr. Harrell was then thrown or dragged down a staircase, according to the inmates’ accounts. One inmate reported seeing him lying on the landing, “bent in an impossible position.”

“His eyes were open,” the inmate wrote, “but they weren’t looking at anything.”

Corrections officers called for an ambulance, but according to medical records, the officers mentioned nothing about a physical encounter. Rather, the records showed, they told the ambulance crew that Mr. Harrell probably had an overdose of K2, a synthetic marijuana.

He was taken to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital and at 10:19 p.m. was pronounced dead.

No member of the Beat Up Squad has faced any sanction for this. Maybe the New York Post can make a witless joke about it.

Against Arctic Drilling

[ 23 ] August 20, 2015 |


As Rebecca Leber observes, Clinton’s break from the Obama administration is good policy and good politics:

The environmental group 350 Action, among Clinton’s harshest critics on climate issues, offered rare praise Tuesday for Clinton’s leadership—while noting she still hasn’t taken a concrete position on the group’s top target, the Keystone XL pipeline.

“This is a hugely encouraging sign from Hillary Clinton, and it’s in no small part thanks to activists in Seattle, Portland, and around the country who’ve placed their bodies on the line to put Arctic drilling and the broader issue of climate change on the political map,” 350 Action spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy emailed the New Republic. “It’s not easy to stand up to Big Oil, nor to break with a sitting President from within your party—so Secretary Clinton deserves real credit for that.”

In some ways, a candidate’s position on Arctic drilling is more consequential than the Keystone XL pipeline. President Barack Obama’s final decision on the proposed pipeline is expected to come soon, whereas the next president will set the agenda for offshore drilling, including in the Arctic. According to federal estimates, the U.S. Arctic contains 30 billion barrels of undiscovered oil: the equivalent of running the Keystone XL pipeline at full capacity for 75 years, even if you count the added carbon emissions from tar sands oil, according to Natural Resources Defense Council Arctic Director Neil Lawrence. If Keystone is ever built, the State Department has put the pipeline’s lifespan at roughly 50 years.

You Gonna Take A Feel-Good Hollywood Biopic From Someone Who Slapped Beat the Crap out of Dee Barnes?

[ 84 ] August 19, 2015 |

Dee Barnes on Straight Outta Compton:

Three years later—in 1991—I would experience something similar, only this time I was on my back and the knee was in my chest. That knee did not belong to a police officer, but Andre Young, the producer/rapper who goes by Dr. Dre. When I saw the footage of California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew straddling and viciously punching Marlene Pinnock in broad daylight on the side of a busy freeway last year, I cringed. That must have been how it looked as Dr. Dre straddled me and beat me mercilessly on the floor of the women’s restroom at the Po Na Na Souk nightclub in 1991.

That event isn’t depicted in Straight Outta Compton, but I don’t think it should have been, either. The truth is too ugly for a general audience. I didn’t want to see a depiction of me getting beat up, just like I didn’t want to see a depiction of Dre beating up Michel’le, his one-time girlfriend who recently summed up their relationship this way: “I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat on and told to sit down and shut up.”

But what should have been addressed is that it occurred. When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie’s timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, “Uhhh, what happened?” Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A., I found myself a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history.

Dre, who executive produced the movie along with his former groupmate Ice Cube, should have owned up to the time he punched his labelmate Tairrie B twice at a Grammys party in 1990. He should have owned up to the black eyes and scars he gave to his collaborator Michel’le. And he should have owned up to what he did to me. That’s reality. That’s reality rap. In his lyrics, Dre made hyperbolic claims about all these heinous things he did to women. But then he went out and actually violated women. Straight Outta Compton would have you believe that he didn’t really do that. It doesn’t add up. It’s like Ice Cube saying, “I’m not calling all women bitches,” which is a position he maintains even today at age 46. If you listen to the lyrics of “A Bitch Iz a Bitch,” Cube says, “Now the title bitch don’t apply to all women / But all women have a little bitch in ‘em.” So which is it? You can’t have it both ways. That’s what they’re trying to do with Straight Outta Compton: They’re trying to stay hard, and look like good guys.

Straight Outta Compton is hardly unique in this respect — biopics tend to whitewash, even when they’re not done with the cooperation of the subjects. And, of course, misogyny from both art and artists is depressingly common, and does not in itself mean that a biopic of very influential artists is unjustified. I would suggest, however, that at a minimum Straight Outta Compton not be called “unvarnished.”

From the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Calhoun, An Ongoing Series

[ 233 ] August 19, 2015 |

Roger-Taney-in-1858Mister, We Could Use A Chief Justice Like Roger Taney Again

Chalk up another crackpot position that’s gone utterly Republican mainstream:

On Sunday, business mogul Donald Trump came out in support of ending birthright citizenship — and on Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker joined him.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said recently that he didn’t think the party needed to go that far in trying to crack down on illegal immigration. But during his run for governor in 2010, according to the Columbus Dispatch, he reiterated his longtime support for ending birthright citizenship.

When Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul first ran for the Senate in 2010, he said he didn’t “think the 14th Amendment was meant to apply to illegal aliens.” He has since pushed for a constitutional amendment. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said the issue needs to be re-examined as well.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has also stated his support for altering the 14th Amendment…

And on Monday night, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal joined the debate, tweeting, “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

Even South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a longtime supporter of immigration reform, has called for a consideration of a change in the Constitution because he believes immigrants will simply “drop and leave” their kids in this country.

Taken together, that’s a solid chunk of the Republican field. And for a political party desperately trying to improve its standing with Hispanic and other minority voters, it could portend a damaging bend toward nativism.

If the Republican Party has ever accomplished something good, contemporary Republicans will do what they can to purge any trace of the preemptive heresy from the books.

Amanda Terkel has a good companion piece on the history of denying citizenship to various classes of people.

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