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Category: General

NFL Conference Championship Picks/Open Thread

[ 154 ] January 18, 2015 |

SEAHAWKS (-8) over Packers You know about these teams. The real question here is Rodgers’s health. If his calf isn’t a major issue, 8 points is too much to give up to the most valuable player in the sport, and his near-flawless second half against the Cowboys would suggest that it isn’t. But his first half makes clear that he’s not going to be near full mobility, and the Seattle defense is much better positioned to exploit this than Dallas’s was. This will probably be close most of the way, but I think Seattle will eventually pull away.

PATRIOTS (-6 1/2) over Colts. I don’t mean to be stubborn, but this is a much easier call. I know Indianapolis has looked good the last two weeks. But the first game was against a below-average QB missing his only two decent weapons (and, yes, yes, picking against the Colts there was as stupid as a pick against the spread can be, an excellent illustration of why contrarianism is dumb and “hmm, should I be picking 4 favorites?” logic is even dumber.) And even Andy Dalton would probably have given Denver a better shot that the “Peyton Manning” who showed up last week. This week, they’re going up against a healthy icon. The (past-peak but still excellent) icon has only one great weapon, but 1)the weapon is great and it’s not clear how the Colts can deal with him if he stays on the field, and 2)the bunch of OK additional options should allow McDaniels to game plan around Vontae Davis easily (and Davis is apparently well less than 100% anyway.) Admittedly, Luck will do some damage — if the Broncos couldn’t get any pass rush it’s not clear how New England will. And they won’t benefit from the inevitable 2-yards-a-carry-plus-fumble from Trent “so nice he was worth a first rounder twice!” Richardson. But the Pats are better offensively and defensively, playing at home. I think they’re headed to Arizona without a great deal of difficulty.

…I greatly appreciate the valiant efforts of Seahawks MVP Mike McCarthy to keep them in the game, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough. Apparently my worries last year about Seattle’s third-rate receiving corps weren’t so much wrong as premature.

Today in Genocide History

[ 2 ] January 18, 2015 |

152 years ago today, the U.S. executed Apache leader Mangas Coloradas. Of course his body was then mutilated and subject to the pseudo-scientific racial testing of the day.

Lanny and Roger

[ 15 ] January 18, 2015 |

Two bad tastes that go perfectly together.

Robert White, RIP

[ 67 ] January 17, 2015 |

Getting my Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico, I became deeply exposed to the Latin American left and its American supporters. Mostly this was good, but one of the arguments I was never comfortable with was that any person or any program remotely involved with the U.S. government was automatically corrupted with the legacy of American imperialism. While that legacy is certainly strong enough and continues to cause incredible damage throughout the region, this critique made suspicious not only Peace Corps but those who volunteered to do it, Fulbright scholarships, and it goes without saying, anyone associated with the U.S. Foreign Service. But this critique left no room for those who really were trying to do positive things, even if they might not have supported the revolutionary politics of those on the left.

I thought of this last night when I read this obituary of career Foreign Service officer Robert White, drummed out of government service by Al Haig after he blamed the rape and murder of 3 American nuns and a Catholic laywoman in El Salvador on the U.S. supported military government of that nation. Of course, White was correct.

Serving every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower as a career diplomat rather than a political appointee, Mr. White was distinguished by his dispassionate, boots-on-the-ground analysis and his blunt conclusions.

He once branded Roberto D’Aubuisson, the Salvadoran rightist, a “pathological killer.” And in a face-off that Mr. White had with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, Mr. Kissinger blinked, revoking a reprimand he had ordered after Mr. White, at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Chile, delivered an unalloyed critique of the host government’s human-rights infractions.

“I was fired by the Nixon White House for opposing politicization of the Peace Corps, reprimanded by Henry Kissinger for speaking out on human rights, and finally, definitely dismissed by Alexander Haig for opposing a military solution in El Salvador,” Mr. White recalled.

Inspired to serve in Latin America by what he called President John F. Kennedy’s “creative response to the revolutionary fervor” sweeping that region, Mr. White lamented that once Kennedy was assassinated, Washington adopted a single-minded goal to thwart Communism, whether in Vietnam or in its half-century embargo of Cuba.

Maybe White was an anti-revolutionary. Still, quite a record of service there.

Impeach Obama!

[ 86 ] January 17, 2015 |

You may have heard about Tom Wolf’s salutary decision not to serve Yuengling, a terrible vaguely beer-flavored water brewed by a union-busting company, at his inaugural. But buried in the reporting is a truly disturbing fact:

When the Canadian ice hockey team defeated the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics, President Barack Obama sent the Canadian prime minister a case of Yuengling, NBC Philadelphia reported. NBC said at the time that Yuengling was “the President’s brew of choice.”

Surely this will feature prominently when historians determine that Obama makes Buchanan look like Lincoln. I don’t know how the Weekly Standard‘s interns missed this dispositive evidence.

Restricting Civil Forfeiture

[ 105 ] January 16, 2015 |

Very important news:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without evidence that a crime occurred.

Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.

Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.

I’m sure that had Mitt Romney won Attorney General Yoo would have done exactly the same thing, though.

…Balko has more.


[ 42 ] January 16, 2015 |

2014, the hottest year in world history. I’m sure the conservatives will find some way to say 1998 was still the hottest and thus global climate change is a hoax. Meanwhile, oil prices are collapsing so I am sure we will deal with these problems very very soon.

How Do You Talk to a 7-Year-Old Girl about Comic Books?

[ 138 ] January 16, 2015 |

A man grapples with that question in this terrific read.

What would you say?

What comics would you recommend for young girls?

Islam at Duke

[ 62 ] January 16, 2015 |

While I appreciate Duke University’s initial agreement to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer once a week, its quickly succumbing to the racist blatherings of Franklin Graham and the anti-Islam fanatics that dominate the American right show both that the acceptance of Islam anywhere in American society is tenuous at best and that college and university administrations will always cave in the face of the first conservative protest over anything that goes on at their campus.

Everything in the Oceans Is Dying

[ 13 ] January 16, 2015 |

Today’s installment of this continuing series:

A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

Yes, it’s climate change and changing those behaviors, well, that ain’t going to happen. But it’s also the industrialization of the oceans:

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years. Bottom trawlers scraping large nets across the sea floor have already affected 20 million square miles of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble. Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises.

Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea.

The oceans are so vast that their ecosystems may seem impervious to change. But Dr. McClenachan warned that the fossil record shows that global disasters have wrecked the seas before. “Marine species are not immune to extinction on a large scale,” she said.

The oceans are the ultimate in out of sight industrial production because the only people who can get down to see them are those with special equipment. Even those who live on the shore can’t see more than a few inches below the surface. But the companies know what’s down there and they will extract it all, leaving the oceans a giant jellyfish desert.

“The arc of justice may be long, but Chief Justice Roberts is bending it towards Rand Paul.”

[ 17 ] January 16, 2015 |

And, alas, it’s the real Rand Paul, not the civil libertarian ones some people have invented.  And, yes, if King v. Burwell is reversed, we’re in a second age of of Lochner.   (Ian did leave out my favorite example of the utter incoherence of reactionary jurisprudence of the early 20th century: Hammer v. Dagenhart. Sure, Congress might have limited itself to what the Court itself had repeatedly said was regulating interstate commerce, but Congress could still not do so because…I’m not going to lie to you Marge. Well, goodbye! And using transparently erroneous legal arguments to deny health insurance to 10 million people would fit it nicely next to the use of transparently erroneous legal arguments to help businesses exploit child labor.

Notes on the Ongoing Death of Freedom

[ 77 ] January 16, 2015 |

Here’s one of the horrible outcomes the Halbig troofers are trying to eliminate:

For the first time in a decade, the number of people struggling to pay their medical bills has started to decline, according to a new survey released on Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund. The researchers attributed the historic drop to the number of people gaining insurance under the health care reform law.

Between 2012 and 2014 — as Obamacare’s main coverage expansion took effect — the Commonwealth researchers found that the number of people who had issues paying for health treatment dropped from 41 percent to 35 percent. Over the same time period, the people who skipped out on health services because they couldn’t afford them declined from 43 percent to 36 percent.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will act quickly to free people from the tyranny of more affordable medical insurance and restore the most precious liberties of all, the freedoms to declare bankruptcy and forgo medical care.

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