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Limbaugh vs. McCain

[ 34 ] January 16, 2008 |

I agree with Ezra that Rush Limbaugh announcing a war against not only Huckabee but McCain seems significant — barring some miracle like Fred Thompson being discovered alive the GOP establishment is going to rally around Romney, although McCain’s background is substantially more conservative on balance. (McCain, apparently, can’t be forgiven his momentary dalliance with fiscal sanity and his offenses against the Bush cult.) While Romney should be favored for the nomination, I don’t think this settles the question: McCain would have no more chance against a credible establishment-approved orthodox conservative than he did in 2000, but remains alive because there’s isn’t one in the race.

All of this looks promising for the Democrats, even though I think that the negative effects of a long primary per se are overstated. If the establishment candidate wins, this is good because either Clinton or Obama should beat him easily, and if it comes to that he seems like the least bad president of the awful GOP field. If he doesn’t, McCain is a more viable nominee in theory, but he would win with many powerful elements of his party bitter about his victory; that seems like a pretty promising worst-case scenario for the Democrats.



[ 11 ] January 16, 2008 |

Although Straight Talkin’ John McCain has to be considered the real winner of any Republican primary, winner 1A has to be Rudy Giulani, who has them right where he wants them. Why, he almost beat the dynamic campaign of Fred Thompson! (Although still a little behind a crank racist publishing mogul who places considerable emphasis on bringing back the gold standard.) Here were the final results among potential saviors of the Republican Party:

Amanda Hugandkiss 6%
Strom Thurmond’s decomposing corpse 5%
Frederick of Hollywood 4%
Oliver Clothesoff 3.5 %
Bea O’Problem 3.2%
America’s Mayor (TM), RudyNine GiulianiEleven 2.8%
Uncommitted 2.7%
Ted Nugent 2.4%

"You Don’t Favor Attacking Japan Today, But In Your Last Book You Say That You Favored It In 1942. Why Are You Such A Flip-flopper?"

[ 15 ] January 16, 2008 |

Appropriately enough, on the eve of what might have been the most asinine debate moderation since the immortal horse-race wankery of Ted Koppel, Ygelsias perfectly captures the vacuous, pointless, information-destroying interviewing style of Tim Russert:

Russert apparently meant this as a question. For some reason, we were supposed to be astonished that Richardson’s view of what would be good policy in the spring of 2007 wasn’t the same as his view of what would have been good policy in the winter of 2005. One imagines FDR getting a question about how he could favor the Normandy landings when he’d refused entreaties for operations in France just eighteen months earlier. “Now, I want to compare this invasion of France to what you said in your fireside chat in late 1942.

It’s not about the candidate; it’s about Tim. And don’t forget to buy his latest crappy book about his old man!

"Judicial Activism": It Means Nothing

[ 22 ] January 15, 2008 |

Hopefully most readers of this site are well aware at this late date that “judicial activism” in ordinary political discourse means absolutely nothing more than “judgifying conservatives don’t like.” Still, claiming that it’s unacceptable “judicial activism” for judges to adjudicate breach of contract disputes takes things to a new level of vacuity. Apparently, according to many conservative bloggers the only thing you need to know about the institutional role of courts is that if Dennis Kucinich wins a case the courts are exceeding their authority irrespective of how central to a judge’s function the underlying case might be.

…Treason In Defense of Slavery Yankee offers this penetrating analysis of the breach of contract claim:

Second, MSNBC claims that an invitation does not constitute a contract.

Well, yes, obviously, if a defendant makes a bare assertion that the suit is without merit a judge’s job is over — case dismissed! Especially if the defendant uses italics! What kind of judicial activist would believe otherwise? I’m not sure why the Supreme Court failed to rely on this well-known doctrine in its holding today; it would have saved a lot of writing…

Wire Season 5

[ 0 ] January 15, 2008 |


I’m a little worried that the final season of The Wire is going to be like Sopranos Season 6A (aside from the awful-by-any-standard dream sequence): vastly better than pretty much anything else on TV, but distinctly inferior to the standard previously established by the show. In particular, despite Clark Johnson’s very welcome presence I’m worried about the Baltimore Sun plotline whatever one agrees with the axes Simon has to grind, the resulting villains just don’t shape up to be that interesting, in the way that even the show’s most inept and venal characters usually are. As Matt says, “[e]verything in the Sun plot is being marked out like a runway. Do you think the Unscrupulous Journalist and the Douchebag Editor are going to conspire to cause the Fall of American Journalism? I think they just might!” I also agree with Kay that the opening sequence of Bubbles at the N.A. meeting was a poorly written and acted variation on an especially tired theme; it’s frustrating for precious last minutes of the show to be wasted in this way.

Still, there was a lot of great stuff in both episodes; hopefully the lesser storylines will get better.

Legalize it?

[ 0 ] January 14, 2008 |

Via Matt, Radley Balko and Kerry Howley discuss some data that supports my inclination to decriminalize and regulate prostitution. Because sex workers engaged in illegal activity can’t go to the police, they face the Hobson’s Choice of violent assault from their customers or violent assault from pimps. And, worse, police with the arbitrary power to arrest prostitutes at their discretion take advantage of this by raping prostitutes with disturbing frequency. And because illegal prostitution isn’t regulated, 80% of the johns don’t use condoms. All of these problems, as Balko says, seems pretty directly tied to criminalization.

On the other hand, decriminalization isn’t a panacea. Brad Plumer points out that legalization led to increased trafficking, doesn’t stop many sex workers from feeling coerced and unsafe, and brothels proved difficult to regulate. This doesn’t fully convince me because these problem seem like they could be at least partially addressed by more careful regulatory regimes whereas the problems of criminalization seem inevitable. But as an alternative, Brad suggests the Swedish model of criminalizing the buying but not the selling of sex, which would at least eliminate many of the perverse incentives of criminalization. The Swedish model also “provided ample social service funds for helping any prostitute who wanted to get out of the business to do so, as well as funds for educating the public.” This system has its own serious flaws, although it would seem better than the American status quo. The depressing lesson here seems to be that given existing gender inequities we’re choosing among least bad policy options.


[ 0 ] January 14, 2008 |

Mithras has dug up more examples of Pat Oliphant misogynist war on Hillary Clinton. I think I need a shower. And I don’t think he’d be able to keep his job if he dealt in similar stereotypes with respect to Obama.

…maybe that last sentence was too optimistic.

"A liberal fascist is one who won’t take his own side in a putsch."

[ 2 ] January 14, 2008 |

I suppose we would be obligated to link to the post because of the title alone, but Spackerman does a good job in pointing out the feeble response of the NYT public editor to the hiring of someone who quite recently said that his new editors were traitors who belong in jail.

Although He Probably Shouldn’t Have Taken Her New Single "Don’t Get Rid of the Ball When You’re Surrounded By Four Defenders" At Face Value

[ 19 ] January 14, 2008 |

I yield in nobody in my hatred of the Cowboys, but the “why did Tony Romo go to the beach with a woman inexplicably seen as a platonic ideal of beauty by many American men during a bye week?” controversy is so stupid it could have been invented by Maureen Dowd herself. Take the normally much more astute William Rhoden:

That’s why, given everything at stake, I was puzzled by Romo’s decision to go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with Jessica Simpson during the Cowboys’ bye week.

I know, I know: on the surface this is not a big thing. Cabo isn’t all that far from Dallas. Still, the decision to make the trip sent an odd message to his teammates: I’m at least as focused, if not more focused, on celebrity than winning this playoff game. The message to the Giants was, We’ve beaten you twice already; the third meeting at our house will be a day at the beach.

Immaturity, poor decision-making and misplaced priorities.

When Romo was hatching his plans, I wonder if he stopped and asked himself: I wonder how Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are spending their bye weeks? Brady, of the Patriots, spent most of his time in New York with his girlfriend, and the Packers’ Brett Favre spent time in Mississippi.

Two of the great quarterbacks in N.F.L. history kept low profiles. I don’t know where Manning was — which is instructive in itself — but I’d be willing to wager that he wasn’t hanging out on a beach in Mexico.

Or to rephrase this without changing a single fact:

While Tony Romo spent a quiet couple of days out of the glare of the Dallas media spotlight in a remote location with his girlfriend and her family, Tom Brady spent two days carousing swank Manhattan nightclubs with supermodel Gisele Bündchen, proving that he is immature and cares more about celebrity than his team. Heavens to Betsy, what misplaced priorities! Tom Brady is Teh suxxor!

But I’m sure if Romo had decided to vacation in Branson, the Giants wouldn’t have been especially motivated to get to the NFC Championship game…


[ 0 ] January 13, 2008 |

With an enormous amount of writing to do but three sporting events of interest, I decided to use the predictive powers for which I am justly famous and take my laptop to a cafe during the crappy-looking Colts/Chargers game — bringing a radio to listen to the first half as long as it was close — then use the first half of Cowboys/Giants for a gym/dinner break and then work in front of the Flames/Oilers game on the teevee in the evening.

I suppose this was the inevitable result. Not that I’m sold on Norv Turner — the team last year was better in the regular season and would have won the playoff game in which they were the much better team if they could have just knocked down Brady’s 4th down pass rather than run with the pick — but to beat a great team on the road with his starting QB injured in the 4th quarter and his star running back also hurt, you can’t deny him his credit. (Also, TV watchers may disagree, but Marv and Fossel seemed to suggest that the Bolts were getting consistently screwed by the officiating.)

Victorian Sexist of the Day

[ 14 ] January 13, 2008 |

Caitlin Flanagan.

Or Pat Oliphant. Wow.

Update by bean: As the Germans would say, two blockheads, one thought.

"Oh, oh, oh, your "nostalgia" file. That’s swell, because I don’t have to eat this month."

[ 0 ] January 12, 2008 |

Dear Coach Holmgren,

I agree that it would really be nice if Shaun Alexander was still an NFL-caliber running back. But he’s not. What could possibly compel you to give the ball twice in a row to a guy who couldn’t break through a cardboard cutout of an NFL player in a crucial red zone possession? Seriously, has Herm Edwards secretly taken over the offense?


P.S. Speaking of cardboard cutouts standing in for defenders, I guess we now know that the apparently good Seahwaks defense was wholly a product of the feeble schedule; that was beyond embarrassing. Do these stiffs ever get a third down stop? Ever? The Irritating Narcissist could have a 3rd-and-42 with 8 guys on the field and convert.

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