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Category: General

Don’t Forget Catharine MacNerdington!

[ 95 ] April 15, 2012 |

There are several indications that an article is not going to be worth your time unless you’re a blogger looking for something really dumb to make fun of. The first is that it appears in the Dartmouth Review. But if that’s not enough for some reason, this one makes it clear early:

Writing on yesterday, columnist Megan Carpentier broke from the issue’s traditional fault lines to rebuke Mr. Buffett’s tax proposals on radical new ground. Donning the persona of the late Andrea Dorkin, the author argues that the primary problem with a proposal that reeks of Occupy-style class warfare isn’t its spurious economic underpinnings or its assault on success; rather, its most glaring deficiency is its architect’s insistence on calling his “personal assistant” a “secretary.”

Andrea Dorkin? Was that a character in one of the American Pie sequels?

I actually kind of appreciate that. The ratio of wingnut pundits who invoke Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin — the most powerful actors in 20th century American political life — to the wingnut pundits who could tell you a single thing about either of their work is roughly three million to zero. Getting one of them confused with a nickname you or another asshole in your frat gave to a girl in high school with glasses that weren’t cutting edge enough just gives up the pretense.

Robert Caro

[ 28 ] April 15, 2012 |


The two Bobs, Gottlieb and Caro, have an odd editorial relationship, almost as contentious as it is mutually admiring. They still debate, for example, or pretend to, how many words Gott­lieb cut from “The Power Broker.” It was 350,000 — or the equivalent of two or three full-size books — and Caro still regrets nearly every one. “There were things cut out of ‘The Power Broker’ that should not have been cut out,” he said to me sadly one day, showing me his personal copy of the book, dog-eared and broken-backed, filled with underlining and corrections written in between the lines. Caro is a little like Balzac, who kept fussing over his books even after they were published.

Cut out 350,000 words? Was the book originally supposed to be 2000 pages?

Thing is, I’d probably like to read those 350,000 words.

This also made me laugh:

He was always writing, and even then he wrote long. His sixth-grade essays dwarfed everyone else’s. His senior thesis at Princeton — on existentialism in Hemingway — was so long, he was told, that the college’s English department subsequently instituted a rule limiting the number of pages a senior could turn in.

The Romneys Truly Are Just Like You and Me

[ 77 ] April 15, 2012 |

I never knew how hard Mitt and Ann Romney had it:

“They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income.

“It was tiny. And I didn’t have money to carpet the floor. But you can get remnants, samples, so I glued them together, all different colors. It looked awful, but it was carpeting.

“We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time.

“The stock came from Mitt’s father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt’s birthday money year to year — it wasn’t much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education.

It’s really hard, having to put yourself through college by selling your stocks….

As Digby states:

I’m fairly sure that selling that stock was just as hard for them as it was for me to work at a full time job when I went to school. I can’t even imagine the pain I would have felt if I’d had to pick up the phone and take some profits instead of working nights and going to classes in the daytime.

Now, the truth is that Ann and Mitt had their first children during this time, so they were up all night as well. I suppose I might have done that too, but it would have been unaffordable for me to go to school and work full time and raise a child so I was very glad to have birth control easily available through Planned Parenthood. But then I’m fairly sure that Ann and Mitt wouldn’t have approved of my sluttish co-ed lifestyle. I was unmarried, after all. And with no stock to call my own. At the very least, I should have first been married at the age of 19 to a man with a famous political name who was groomed to be president of the United States. That’s how nice young ladies “struggle.”

Worst Person of the 21st Century

[ 61 ] April 15, 2012 |

Nomination #1: Wayne LaPierre.

The War on Parody, Punditry Edition

[ 34 ] April 14, 2012 |

This article about how Obama is such a “bully” that he’s willing to criticize political opponents is pretty much all comedy gold, but I especially treasure the bit about how “Obama’s campaign moved to distance the president” from comments made by a Democrat who is not connected to the administration.

The 70s in an Image

[ 92 ] April 14, 2012 |


H/t Amanda Marcotte

The War on Parody

[ 26 ] April 14, 2012 |

Tennessee has decided to extend it beyond the blogosphere.

The Sublime, the Ridiculous, and the Indefensible

[ 78 ] April 13, 2012 |

The best postseason in sports has, in fact, been tremendous so far. And in addition to the many exceptionally good games — and the Flyers/Penguins series could be one of the best first-round matchups ever — we have the high comedy of Ryan Kesler’s auditions for the Azzurri:

Above: necessary and sufficient grounds for Drew Doughty immediately being awarded the Conn Smythe trophy.

Alas, one blemish on the otherwise great playoff is the failure to suspend Shea Weber. It’s true that it’s the time of the game that is causing people to call for a harsher punishment than might otherwise be merited, but the thing is that the time of the game is relevant. With a lot of time left in a close game, the disincentives created by penalties are important. The hit Bitz got suspended for was more dangerous than the Weber play, but the major penalty he was assessed has a huge impact on the game (as the Kings scored a PP goal that would prove decisive.) But with the game over, suspensions are the only sanction, and it’s a bad precedent to let it slide with a trivial fine. Weber should have at least gotten a game, and Red Wings fans are right to be agitated. I blame Berube’s failure to do any hockey blogging this year…

Not Just Bad Policy, Unconstitutional Policy

[ 36 ] April 13, 2012 |

As I mentioned below, yesterday Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed a draconian abortion law that, among other things, effectively bans abortions after 18 weeks after conception. This law, like other attempts by state legislatures to ban pre-viability abortions, represents a substantial dilution of a woman’s right to choose. In addition, it’s worth noting that the law is plainly unconstitutional under current law.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey was a substantial retreat from Roe v. Wade, and a lot of the legislation passed by state legislatures that restricts a woman’s reproductive freedom was encouraged by the largely toothless “undue burden” standard the Court established to evaluate abortion regulations. But bans on abortion after 18 or 20 weeks — bans that precede viability — are clearly unconstitutional even under Casey. From the joint opinion written by Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter:

It must be stated at the outset and with clarity that Roe’s essential holding, the holding we reaffirm, has three parts. First is a recognition of the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State. Before viability, the State’s interests are not strong enough to support a prohibition of abortion or the imposition of a substantial obstacle to the woman’s effective right to elect the procedure.

The state cannot prohibit abortion before viability — the Court’s opinion is unambiguous on this point. There is no “fetal pain” exception, and nor should there be. As Caitlin Borgmann of the CUNY School of Law has shown, the “fetal pain” justification is a political strategy used by the anti-choice movement to equate fetuses with children, while “the research on fetal pain is at best inconclusive.” Whether Justice Kennedy would stand by the opinion he signed should a case concerning the constitutionality of such laws come to the Supreme Court is unclear. But as of now, the lower courts are required to stop such bills from going into effect by the plain language of Supreme Court precedent.

Well, That Was Postmature…

[ 16 ] April 13, 2012 |

Peretz will no longer be permitted to undermine the reputation of the New Republic.

Soldier Dogs

[ 8 ] April 13, 2012 |

This story on dogs in the military reminded me of the odd memorial at the University of Tennessee for the dogs killed in the battle to liberate Guam in 1944.


[ 49 ] April 13, 2012 |

Corey Robin on the Cory Booker superhero story:

The whole story speaks to a quintessentially American love of amateurism and cowboy theatrics, but it also speaks to our neoliberal age: like the superhero of comic-book lore, Booker is a stand-in, a compensation in this case for a public sector that doesn’t work. And the reason it doesn’t work—the reason we put more stock in the antics of a Batman Mayor than a well paid and well trained city employee—is that we’ve made it not work: through tax cuts, privatization, and outsourcing, policies that Booker himself often supports.

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