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What a Coinky-Dink!

[ 0 ] September 29, 2007 |

The Verizon policy chief behind the selective attempt to stop NARAL from paying Verizon to set up an IM network turns out to be…an anti-choice former Congressman who explicitly endorsed the GOP plank to make abortion 1st degree murder in all 50 states, and not surprisingly was strongly opposed by NARAL. Verizon will have to decide whether it wants someone to let personal and policy grudges hurt the company…

..a commenter suggests that the decision of Verizon wireless was not connected to Tauke, which is certainly possible. Either way, this is a good time for Verizon customers to into that new i-Phone they’ve been thinking about…

It Can Always Get More Pathetic

[ 0 ] September 29, 2007 |

In his latest attempt to revive his stillborn campaign, John McCain — beloved, you may remember, earlier in this decade by the media and an inexplicable number of liberal pundits for an alleged refusal to pander — decides to engage in rank religious bigotry, arguing (among other things) that a Muslim is not qualified to be President of the United States and (in a Orwellian retelling of history) that the Constitution established a “Christian nation.” It’s even more disgraceful because it won’t work.

Gene Mauch Memorial Last Week of the Season Open Thread

[ 0 ] September 28, 2007 |

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I’ve always thought the pennant race was more exciting than the post-season, and at least in one league this year he have a great finish. Where did the people who care about baseball in Philadelphia come from? Can the Padres keep winning without Bradley and Cameron? Can the Rockies run the table for the last two weeks? Will their incredible luck catch up to the Diamondbacks? Can the Mets win a game against the Marlins? That’s why they play etc…

…Mets up 12-0 in the 8th on Saturday. In fairness, I’d have to give them at least a 15% chance of winning this one…

The MPAA’s Double Standard

[ 0 ] September 28, 2007 |

In her review of the new Ang Lee picture, Manohla Dargis identifies it as another example of the bizarre way that the MPAA evaluates sex and violence relative to each other:

And flirtation is the word, despite the shoving and hitting, a few harsh lashes and geometric configurations that put me in mind of high school geometry more than it did the Kama Sutra. The Motion Picture Association of America, that tireless, cheerless band of Comstocks who regulate all things sexual and few things violent on behalf of the major studios, has saddled the film with an NC-17 rating — no one 17 and under admitted, even with an adult — because of “some explicit sexuality.” The horrors of female nudity (unshaven armpits!) and the vigorous pantomime of coitus apparently offended the sensibilities of the M.P.A.A., which routinely bestows R ratings to movies in which characters are tortured to death for kicks.

If anyone can defend an NC-17 for a not-even-pronographic film with nudity and an R for the torture porn that seems to come out every month, I’d love to hear it…

The Myth of a Shepard Myth

[ 0 ] September 28, 2007 |

Roy has been doing a good job with Andrew Breitbart’s War Against Culture lobs against David Ehrenstein, but missed one thing: Breitbart’s claim that Matthew Shepard “was killed by crazed meth addicts for drugs and money — not because he was gay.” As Roger Ailes points out, these claims that the Shepard killing wasn’t a hate crime rest entirely on on the six-years-after-the-fact, uncorroborated, contradictory, and self-serving claims of the killer and his relatives. If we are to apply the arguments of Breitbart and the other people peddling this crap consistently, we can release about 95% of our prisoners right now –I mean, they didn’t do it, Scout’s Honor!

Closet Tolerant

[ 0 ] September 28, 2007 |

A couple of Matt’s commenters beat me to it, but I don’t think it’s really accurate to say that Thompson is taking a stand on “federalist” grounds. He’s never met a federal abortion regulation he doesn’t like, for example, so as with 99% of the population “federalism” matters to him at most in the familiar question-begging sense in which “federalism” isn’t doing any real work but is just a way of concealing your substantive position on the merits. Rather, I think that he’s using “federalism” as a smokescreen for the fact that he’s a closet tolerant who doesn’t really have a problem with gay marriage. Which admittedly I think is even more charitable towards Thompson, and he does deserve of a modicum of credit for not going along with all of the symbolic gay-baiting the GOP base seems to demand.

Attempt To Make the Electoral College Even Less Democratic Stillborn

[ 0 ] September 28, 2007 |

Good.

…to be clear, I mean small-d “democratic” in the title — no system that could permit a substantial loser in the popular vote to become President for no good reason deserves the word — but of course it applies in both senses.

Oh, the Humanity

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

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[Graphic from Metsgrrl.]

I was in Flushing for tonight’s unpleasantness, and what can you say? Petey did his job; 2 earned, either driven in or scored by the best hitter in the league, and despite some early command issues worked efficiently enough to keep the Arson Squad out of the game for 7 innings. Even hit the low 90s at times if you believe the Shea gun. He’s still beautiful to watch. But when you can’t get a sniff off of Joel Goddamned Pineiro, well, you really don’t deserve to go to the playoffs, And there’s really no reason they can’t still make it, with the Marlins at home. But it’s hard to see it happening at this point.

Not only that, but the utter lack of offense left me more thinking space to get irritated with Tony LaRussa, Super Genius (TM) for batting his pitcher eighth. Not that it really matters, but what’s the possible justification?

The Stephen Glass of 9/11

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Interesting story in the NYT about a woman who appears to have made up an elaborate public 9/11 survival story out of whole cloth. As with Glass, there are giveaways about her verisimilitude that are obvious once you know the story:

She has told people that she is the daughter of a diplomat, and is described on the Survivors’ Network Web site as “a senior vice president for strategic alliances for an investment think tank.”

Investment think tank? But, obviously, you’re not inclined to poke into the story of an ostensible 9/11 survivor, just as people accepted what should have been egregious howlers in Glass’s stuff because the stories were too good or because they were consistent with underlying ideological assumptions.

In a sense, though, my headline is unfair because she doesn’t seem to have profited from making up the story, so it’s hard to be too hard on her. Much worse, I’m reminded of one of my students who tried to use the Alaska Air crash as an excuse…to submit an assignment late. She said she hadn’t handed in her paper because she was an airline employee tending to survivors. I didn’t believe it, but as with the iconic Apocryphal Dead Relative it’s a clever story because the teacher feels like a jerk for requesting proof and would feel like an even bigger one if it was true. It turns out, though, that she had gone to the professor first with a story that didn’t work with the timeline, and then cleaned it up to go to the TA, so it was pretty clearly bogus. Using the give ‘em enough rope theory I noted the timeline difficulty, gave her one more day to hand in the paper with only modest penalties, and never heard from her again. But, really, would you use the deaths of hundreds of people to blow off a college assignment?

Historic Chokes

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Say this for the 2007 Mets: they have the chance to make history. Should they completely spit out the bit, according to Nate Silver’s playoff odds they will have pulled off the second worst choke in history, even worse than the Cubs gag they took advantage of in ’69 or the ’51 Dodgers but still behind the ’95 Angels. (I had forgotten that the ’95 Mariners, 12 1/2 back on August 20th, actually had a 3 game lead before falling back into the playoff.) It’s also interesting to see the 2003 Mariners make the list; it sure felt like it to us partial season ticket holders, anyway. For all their various ways of inflicting pain since the Expos specialized in late-season charges that fell just short they’re non-competitive in this category…

Today In Non Sequitur Theater

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Matt highlights this genuinely bizarre passage in a Times article about the labor dispute at GM:

Beyond the bookkeeping effect of VEBAs, the health care funds could create a kind of incentive for Detroit companies and the union to modify their behavior.

Paying the high borrowing costs caused by their low debt ratings meant the Detroit companies had to keep wringing profits from big vehicles like sport utilities and pickups, rather than shifting to the smaller models with better fuel economy that consumers were demanding.

Likewise, U.A.W. members, assured of health care benefits that were the envy of the labor movement, had little incentive to take better care of their health, since their generous coverage would pay for most any ailment.

By contrast, Toyota, which pays premiums only for workers, not their families, has fitness centers at its factories and requires newly hired workers to exercise two hours a day during their training period.

Matt identifies the most obvious problem: assertions about a moral hazard that are both unsupported by evidence and utterly illogical. The idea that people will have no incentive to avoid debilitating illnesses and take care of their bodies as long as their health treatments are paid for is so bizarre I make a mental note to stop taking anyone who says it seriously. But in addition, the article doesn’t even support the premise. If employees at Toyota have such a powerful incentive to stay healthy, why are they required to work out? And isn’t it their non-insured family members rather than the insured workers who have the incentives?

The next time you’re informed about the “liberal” bias at the Times, however, remember the news story claiming that Toyota failed to provide health benefits to their employees’ families…for their own good!

Net Neutrality and Corporate Cowardice

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Publius and JMM draw one of the obvious implications from Verizon’s bizarre decision to refuse to carry pro-choice text messages because of their “unsavory” nature. This does make me think that it’s time to switch to digital phone service…

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