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Mittens!

[ 6 ] July 31, 2008 |

I, for one, hope McCain takes this advice

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Triumph of the Race-Baiters

[ 21 ] July 31, 2008 |

The new McCain ad is indeed remarkably disgusting.

Libertarians: Sometimes Right

[ 32 ] July 31, 2008 |

To push the points made by Matt further, [update: and to disagree with Ezra], I have to say that libertarians are right about regulations banning further fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles. First of all, I object to the ends of the legislation, because I don’t think for the most part it’s the job of government to make basic health/pleasure tradeoffs involving food for its citizens. This isn’t to say that I’m a strict libertarian. I have no objection at all to NYC-type regulations requiring restaurants to inform customers about the nutritional content of their food: allowing customers to make informed choices is a necessary and desirable function of the state (and I would think that even a sophisticated libertarian should see these regulations as acceptable.) I also support the recent bans on trans fat bans in New York and L.A. because they represent a substantial benefit for public health while having a trivial effect on consumer choice (indeed, in most cases using alternative fats will make food not only healthier but better.) But these goals are going to far; I don’t think suppressing the market for fast food like this makes much sense.

But even if I thought that the end was a legitimate function of government, as Ezra says there’s the additional problem that it’s not clear if the policy has any chance of accomplishing its ends. It would be nice if a lot of Burger Kings and Carl’s Jrs. got replaced by cheap, high-quality, low-margin grocery stores, and it would also be nice if I had points on The Dark Knight‘s gross, and the policy in question is equally as likely to accomplish both. And there’s no magical health or even taste advantages that derive from having sitdown service; I’d rather have a Wendy’s near me than an Applebee’s or Denny’s. Suppressing one type of business in the hope that a better one will spring up in its place is not a plan, and the food policies that encourage fast food chains over good indpenedent restaurants and good food stores need to be addressed at the federal level.

Manny Being Marlin

[ 6 ] July 31, 2008 |

Whoa–this would be something if it happens. My initial impulse was to say that this is making Boston’s season look all the more 2005ish, but it’s not that bad. It helps the Red Sox in the future because Ramirez was pretty clearly gone after this year anyway, and when you factor in defense Bay’s probably not actually much worse. A lot depends on Bay’s defense, which his hard to read; his numbers are all over the place. If he does the job in the field, it could work out well even this year.

It’s also an interesting move by Florida, who seem to be doubling down: having an good offensive team with poor defense, they’ve added…a world-class hitting butcher. Their lineup becomes pretty fierce, although Manny playing a left field of that size is pretty frightening.

Obama’s Mythical "Woman Problem"

[ 10 ] July 30, 2008 |

Shorter Carol Marin: “Data is the plural of anecdote! And arbitrary subdivisions of broader classes — even Dick Morris can see the logic of that!”

Fall Woman

[ 0 ] July 30, 2008 |

I agree with Turley and Bazelon that it will be pathetic if Monica Goodling ends up taking all of the responsibility for the frequently illegal cronyism and ineptitude at the DOJ. It’s a nice scam they have going: immunize the subordinate so she can discuss illegal reactions without risk, while expecting that nothing she reveals will be used to go after her superiors. I wish I could say that it wouldn’t work, but…

The Suspense Is Over!

[ 30 ] July 29, 2008 |

I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath to see which wholly arbitrary subdivision of the center-right white bourgeoisie Mark Penn would invent this year and claim requires the maximum amount of pandering. The answer is: “active grannies.” Hopefully lazy journalists looking for think-pieces composed entirely of cliches will update their vocabularies accordingly!

The Death of the Action Scene

[ 46 ] July 29, 2008 |

Again, I can’t say whether this is applicable to The Dark Knight, but I strongly applaud the arguments about how Bay and Tony Scott seemed to have killed the competent, intelligible action sequence. The idea that commercial-style quick cutting represents a technically competent way of shooting and editing action scenes (even if it makes it impossible to tell where the characters are, or who’s doing what for who, not for any artistic reason but because it draws attention to the director) needs to die as quickly as possible.

Priorities

[ 24 ] July 28, 2008 |

Shorter Bush administration: “Indirectly punishing partisan opponents is more important than effectively opposing terrorism.” (Via Atrios.)

Is It News?

[ 28 ] July 28, 2008 |

Emily Bazelon and Hanna Rosin discuss the news value of the National Enquirer story about John Edwards’s alleged affair. Both score some points. I guess that in a world where Maureen Dowd can win a Pulitzer Prize it’s hard to dispute that under existing standards “it “is news, absolutely clearly and by any definition I can think of.” From Edwards’s standpoint, if he did it he had to know the risks he was taking and can’t be shocked that he was exposed. Modern politics, for better or worse, means that you can’t expect discretion about your private affairs. After all, in this campaign we’ve seen the Paper of Record engage in innuendos about John McCain with less basis than this.

Having said that, on a normative level — if we ask whether this should be considered news by the serious press — Rosin is right. It is unlikely that Edwards will be a candidate for vice presidency, and as for the possibility that he could be Attorney General, please. I don’t recall extensive discussions about Michael Mukasey’s sex life during his confirmation hearings, almost as if they were completely irrelevant to his performance in office. The analogies with Craig and Vitter are null, and not only because there’s no contradiction with any policy being advocated by Edwards. Edwards wasn’t testifying in open court. The mainstream media didn’t discuss Craig’s sexual proclivities until he was arrested and his colleagues demanded he resign, both of which are actual news (although the coverage was, I think, greatly overblown and calls on him to resign ridiculous.) In the midst of this gruesome thigh-rubbing, Roger L. Simon cries crocodile tears about how “playing this game while his wife had cancer makes it contemptible beyond words.” Leaving aside that if I were his wife I would (as Rosin says) prefer to be left alone, what would Simon say about an actual current candidate for President who cheated on and then unceremoniously dumped his wife after she was in a horrible accident? Why, he would support him, of course. Because when you get down to cases almost nobody really thinks that this kind of thing matters in evaluating candidates for higher office; it’s a way of trashing people you already dislike for independent political reasons. And this is entirely appropriate.

So, basically, the current confinement of the story to the National Enquirer seems exactly right, and I hope it both continues and (while we’re dreaming) is applied more consistently.

Supply and Demand Is Over…If You Want It!

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |

Shorter John McCain: “Economists don’t understand that a gas tax holiday will work to significantly reduce gas prices because I’m going to have oil companies sit down and tell them to cut the bullshit.”

One one have thought that the Republican candidate’s intellectual capacity and command of policy detail could only go up, but apparently not.

Far Beyond Roe

[ 10 ] July 28, 2008 |

For those who think that the threat John McCain poses to American women is the anti-Roe median vote he would try to put on the Supreme Court, Kate Sheppard and Kathy G. make clear that the problems a McCain presidency would pose would go far beyond this. One of the many valuable things about Kate’s piece is her point that Democrats need John McCain to be forced to clarify his very reactionary position on abortion as much as possible. I would also suggest that an anti-McCain ad on the subject should start with his support for the too-draconian-for-South-Dakota abortion ban and go from there.

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