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The Nietzsche Family Circus

[ 0 ] October 4, 2006 |

Oddly addictive. I’m sure my acquaintances are wondering if it will include “anyone with a very loud voice is almost incapable of thinking subtleties.”

(Via Holbo.)

Self-Parody Alert

[ 0 ] October 4, 2006 |

Shorter Ann “I see the evil in the Clenis’s socksAlthouse: “I can’t believe that a sex scandal is distracting us from substantive discussion of the Iraq War! Besides, as the wise Mickey Kaus points out, the media should only cover one anti-Republican story at a time. This is why the press will never be as beloved as Weird Al Yankovic.”

…and, of course, this is all part of the Reynolds/Althouse/Kaus “the 1936 elections were great for the Republicans” meme. Lots of scandals–great for the GOP! One scandal–great for the GOP, because it’s an outlier! No scandals–great for the GOP, because when you say everything is great for the GOP sometimes you have to be right.

Also, JFK Posthumously Registers As Republican

[ 0 ] October 4, 2006 |

Seems about right.

Ex Post Facto Justification!

[ 0 ] October 4, 2006 |

Ah, finally data to back up my frequent assertion that we’ll have a female and African-American president far before we’ll have an atheist or gay president. (And my guess is that within 20 years gay will be more likely than atheist.)

Playoff Preview The Second: The NL

[ 0 ] October 3, 2006 |

AL preview here (and, hey, ain’t that completely unjustifiable A’s pick looking better!) Before we move on, a couple of notes. First, a quibble with esteemed commenter jrd, who says that “the Twins have a better offense, a better bullpen, and play better defense.” Their offense is better, no question, and ditto the bullpen (although the A’s have a very good one too, especially with Kennedy healthy.) But the defense? Very quietly, the A’s have put together an awful lot of plus defenders–Ellis, Chavez, Kotsay, Payton, Bradley. I’m inclined to think they’re now a better defensive team than the Twins, and I would be certain if Crosby was healthy. Mike Schilling asks: “People watch McCarver with the sound turned on?” Yes, in a little-noticed clause in the Fraud Caucus Torture Bill, this kind of thing is now permitted. I blame the Clenis. (What a relief to have Jon and Joe doing the Twins/As series.) Anyway, on to the Senior Circuit:

Dodgers v. Metropolitans: If Abel Ferrara has taught us anything, it’s that there will be an elaborate conspiracy to force this series to go the distance. Fortunately for Rupert Murdoch’s money launderers, this figures to be a closely contested series anyway. Three months ago, the Mets looked like they would cut through the rest of the field like Reggie Bush running against the secondary of a second-rate Canadian high school team; with Pedro hurt and the western teams improved, if anything the Mets may be underrated. They still have the best lineup in the league (although the Dodgers, quietly, have assembled a very good one–and can DePodesta start getting some credit?), and still have a terrific bullpen, where the Dodgers are deficient. In addition, the Mets have a secret weapon in Grady Little, who seems to base his in game strategy on a close reading of Don Zimmer’s innovations in the 1989 NLCS (boys, let’s try to get as many people on base in front of Will Clark as we can! We’re due to get him out!) Before this afternoon, I would have picked the Mets fairly confidently. But very likely without El Duque? The Dodgers are good enough that I just can’t pick a team starting Maine, a 40-year-old Glavine, and Traschel to move forward. To win, the Mets are going to need some late-inning rallies; possible, but I can’t bet on it. Dodgers in 5, with a caveat: if Hernandez’s MRI is a false alarm, the Mets win.

Cardinals v. Padres: For once, the conventional and sabermetric data agrees: the Cards are the worst team in the post-season, and also the most ill-suited to the post-season, with a thin, finesse pitcher heavy rotation and a bullpen well-stocked with gasoline, lighter fluid, and grenade launchers. Moreover, I’m not terribly surprised; even at the beginning of the season, I thought that the Cardinals were not the elite team most still considered them to be. And yet, this series may not be as lopsided as this suggests. The Cardinals get to start the best pitcher in the league twice, and have the best hitter in the world, in a five game series, those are nice chips. Still, I can’t see it. The Padres are a very solid, well-balanced team. I’m happy to see Mike Cameron–long one of my favorites–have a tremendous year. And that’s just the start: when you remember they play in a brutal hitter’s park, there’s no superstars but a lot of contributors. Piazza can still hit, Giles can still get on base, Barfield looks good. Their balance may make them more vulnerable in a short series, but I don’t see the Cardinals taking advantage. Padres in 4.

So Much the Worse for the Facts

[ 0 ] October 3, 2006 |

Shorter Verbatim Rick Santorum: “You probably remember well when Bill Clinton and the Democrats passed the largest single tax increase in our nation’s history in 1993, $293 billion. That sent our nation into an economic slump.”

Yes, thankfully the Republicans were able to put an end to that nightmarish decade…

Dishonest Hack of the Day

[ 0 ] October 3, 2006 |

Glenn Reynolds. (I’m also shocked that such a steadfast, principled supporter of gay rights would think that an individual’s inappropriate behavior with pages is somehow the responsibility of gay people as a whole, just like the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. Shocking.)

Thanks to the regrettably departed Ted Barlow in comments.

…since, unlike, Rob, I forgot to pre-empt the inevitable this time, I believe it’s time to quote the Wingnut Debate Dictionary: “Disinglennuousness (n.): The practice of saying, after the fact, that just because you linked to something outrageous with ‘THIS IS INTERESTING’ or ‘EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS’, you don’t necessarily agree with the linked sentiments, their having been exposed as utter pig-bollocks.”

Millionaire Pundit Values

[ 0 ] October 3, 2006 |

Shorter Sebastian Mallaby(and, of course, Glenn Reynolds:) The fact that the Democrats took a strong, unyielding stand against privatizing Social Security, and refuse to accept my specious and intellectually dishonest conflation of Social Security and Medicare, proves that they are completely unprincipled.

See also Yglesias. And alternative shorter Ezra. God, Mallaby is an embarrassment.

Playoff Preview I: The AL

[ 0 ] October 3, 2006 |

Tigers vs. Profoundest Manifestation of Evil on Face of Earth. Let’s pretend I was a good contrarian writing for Slate. Unlike a Slate contrarian, I could actually marshall some evidence. The Yankees and Tigers were pretty much even; the Yankees’ better was only 2 games better, and their run differentials essentially even. Even once you get through with all the sabermetric wankery, the Yankees are only 4-5 wins better; essentially negligible in a 5-game series. And the sabermetric formulas that rate teams based on the most important playoff characteristics, as I recently mentioned, actually see the Tigers as favorites–not only do they have better front-line pitching, but they have the fireballers that win in the playoffs. The Yankees’ best pitcher, conversely, gets virtually no Ks, their #2 starter is still good but hittable and nursing injuries, and the discussion of their #3 starter’s injuries has obscured the fact that there’s scant evidence that he’s even an above-average pitcher anymore. And if he’s hurt, Jaret Wright might get a start, although one thinks that Steinbrenner may be on the horn with Dave LaPoint just in case. And, yeah, the Tigers staggered into the playoffs, but in the context of baseball “momentum” is a Latin word meaning “bullshit.” Hell, the Tigers must be the best +270 bet in world history!!!!!

Yeah, I’ll take that bet:

  • There’s the minor fact that the Yankees field better players than the Tigers at every position, with many edges massive. The records are misleading, of course, because the Yankees played most of the year without Sheffield, Matsui and Abreu. (Although at least the Phillies’ wild card drive fell short, thank God. At least their ownership can enjoy that new gross of ivory backscratchers, which is the important thing.) With those guys, their offense goes from outstanding to historic. A player likely to be one of the 5 greatest players in history will be hitting sixth for the Yankees. The new and not really improved Hal Morris will be hitting third for the Tigers. I could go on like this, but you get the idea.
  • The Tigers’ edge in starting pitching is probably much less than it seems on paper. Their strikeout artists are young and have thrown truckloads of innings. Robertson, Game 1 and presumably Game 5 starter, has mediocre peripherals. And while finding an ace that they could keep was a major factor in their remarkable season, Kenny Rogers has a lifetime postseason ERA of 8.85. In fairness, that’s a little misleading; he hasn’t been that good. Johnson doesn’t have much left, but it’s not like he’ll have to be good or anything.
  • Closers take on added importance in the postseason. The Yankees, as you know, have by far the best in the history of baseball. The Tigers have the poor man’s Bob Wickman.

Unless Rivera is hurt, the best that can be hoped for is that the Tigers at least wear out the Yankees’ decent but aging pitching and thin bullpen a little. YANKEES in 2. Oh, wait, there’s no mercy rule in the major league playoffs? YANKEES in 3.

A’s vs. Twins. There’s actually more difference between these teams on paper, although much of this difference is accounted for by a guy who won’t be pitching, and most of the rest is made up for by the fact that the A’s are getting back their best pitcher, who threw less than 50 innings. Still, the Twins have to be considered significant favorites (indeed, the playoff formula likes them more than any team in the playoffs, even without Lirano.) They can start the best pitcher in baseball twice (although the A’s definitely win every other matchup), and with Mauer and Morneau finally breaking out, their offense is better too. Ditto the bullpen, although both are very good. And to top it off, they have a huge home-field advantage and are getting the extra game.

The most important thing for me is that one of these teams wins quickly so they have some chance of beating the Evil Empire. But I’m not sure that will happen. And, on a hunch, I suspect that as revenge for Beane’s legitimately outstanding teams not advancing past the first round, his worst playoff team will squeak out an upset. A’s in 5.

"To start with, he needs to more frequently acknowledge that what he’s calling for is not new and not just his idea."

[ 0 ] October 2, 2006 |

Lord Saletan triumphantly (re)discovers that pro-lifers may not be entirely consistent when it comes to protecting fetal life, and that there may be a “new” strategy that points out this contradiction. No kidding! Perhaps if he paid more attention to the reproductive rights movement rather than discussing strawmen he attributes to them, he would have figured this out a decade or three ago. And what’s amazing is that he’s pretty much already written this column earlier this year. As I said after he wrote the last one:

…the most remarkable thing about Saletan is that he discusses supporting increased access to contraception and sex ed (which, of course, reduce unwanted pregnancies and hence abortions) as if he just split the atom, when of course pro-choice advocates already figured this out decades ago. As Franke-Ruta says, it’s pro-lifers who generally oppose these initiatives. But, of course, take away his excruciatingly banal policy proposals and you’re left with nothing but “I think abortion is gross but I suppose it should remain legal but highly regulated,” which seems unlikely to be an argument that will get your op-ed published. Franke-Ruta makes another important point: people like Saletan just sort of assume that abortion will just kind of remain legal by itself, as if public opinion surveys will protect the right, and as if motivated minorities don’t often get policy victories over more diffuse majorities. (I’m less sure about describing abortion as “awful,” but I agree that there’s a difference between taking women’s experiences into account and instructing them about being immoral; anyway, that’s a whole other post.)

Belle Waring, for some reason, is not grateful that Saletan has interrputed his concern trolling to share this monumental insight.

Federalists and the Federalist Society

[ 0 ] October 2, 2006 |

Brad DeLong’s son asks:

First, neither wing of the original Federalist Party was “strict constructionist.” The Hamilton-Adams wing was aggressively eager to expand the power of the federal government from the get-go. The Madison-Jefferson wing protested severely as long as the levers of power were in the hands of their ex-friends and now adversaries, but once Jefferson was president the Jefferson-Madison wing was happy to run the activist Hamiltonian government, and to do even more: witness the Louisiana Purchase.

Why, then, do those who, like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, claim to be “strict constructionists” call their organization the “Federalist Society”? Does this make any sense?

An easy one:

  • Federalist Society judges aren’t “strict constructionists.” A “strict constructionist” would not, for example, claim that 11th Amendment’s prohibition on suits against a state by citizens of another state really means that a citizen cannot sue her own state, but most Federalist Society Justices do.
  • The term “strict constructionism” (as Antonin Scalia himself has conceded) is nonsensical when applied to constitutional interpretation in any case. It’s not a serious legal term in the contexts in which it’s usually invoked; it’s a term designed to fool the general public. As Rehnquist said, “a strict constructionist judge is one who favors criminal prosecutors over criminal defendants, and civil rights defendants over civil rights plaintiffs.”
  • My understanding is that the “Federalist” designation refers more to the Federalist Papers than Federalism per se. That said, it’s still rather strange to invoke Hamilton on behalf of the propositions that the courts have become dangerously powerful and the power of the federal government should be curtailed. But that’s the point: “Federalist” is vague enough that its meanings can shift to whatever the Republican Party platform requires at a given time.
  • On the other hand, perhaps the label was very presciently intended to invoke the behavior of Federalist Society-beloved judges during the 2000 elections, which bears some similarity to the Federalists trying to stop the winner of the popular vote in 1800 (although, in fairness, the Federalists in 1800, unlike Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas in 2000, were at least working with a plausible understanding of the Constitution.)

I wish the Herblock cartoon republished in The Brethren (in which Rehnquist and Burger destroy a house called “rights of individuals” while the couple inside says “but I thought they were strict constructionists!”) was available online….


[ 0 ] October 2, 2006 |

Amanda reports on This Film Is Not Yet Rated (which I haven’t yet seen):

A couple of the directors, notably Kevin Smith and John Waters, draw a direct parallel between the censorship of gleeful female horniness and the way that misogynistic content just gets a pass, even if it’s quite sexually graphic. Well, they say that directly, and directors Mary Harron and Kimberly Peirce and actress Maria Bello hint at it—it’s basically easier, according to these folks, to get an R instead of a an NC-17 if you show a naked woman getting sliced up than if you show her orgasming.

What’s remarkable is how little the underlying dynamic has changed in the decades since the creation of the MPAA. I think I may have posted this before, but from Dwight Macdonald’s review of Physcho:

I’m against censorship on principle, but this killing in the shower makes me wonder. And not because of the nudity. I favor more nudity in films; also more eroticism and sensuality. It is the sadism that bothers me. Our censors have the opposite view. They see nothing wrong in showing with intimate, suggestive detail a helpless woman being stabbed to death, but had Mr. Hitchcock ventured to show one of Janet Leigh’s nipples, that would have been a serious offense against morals and decency.

Ah, progress.

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