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Category: General

They Don’t Know What They Want…

[ 4 ] March 17, 2011 |

For obvious reasons, this reminded me of this.   From the more recent one, I especially treasure the line about how Libyans probably wish that John McCain was around to drop freedom bombs on them.    I think that we can all agree that it’s time for Euston Manifesto II: The Legend of Totten’s Gold.

Just to Clairify

[ 85 ] March 17, 2011 |

Liberals sometimes criticize Sarah Palin because we’re absolutely terrified that she will make a formidable candidate.    After all, in the wake of her historic performance as VP candidate, who could doubt it?    And if she makes Haley Barbour her veep choice, whew, that would be unbeatable.   I’m very, very scared.

Putting the Boot to Rumsfeld

[ 17 ] March 17, 2011 |

Not that his decimation of Rumsfeld isn’t entertaining, but the “Iraq War was a great idea if it weren’t for those meddling Bushies” line that Boot is pushing really won’t fly.

That Audition for Tucker Carlson is Going Well

[ 36 ] March 17, 2011 |

Commenter wsn recently made a prediction:

Looking to the future, I’m eagerly awaiting Althouse’s explanation for why the recall elections in Wisconsin are anti-democratic.

Well, that didn’t take long!

Portray them as anti-democratic sore losers who won’t accept the results of a legitimate fair election.

Although our commenter was too charitable to Althouse, in the sense that he or she expected an explanation for the proposition that using the procedures established by the Wisconsin constitution to petition for another election is “anti-democratic.” The hackish bare assertion was rather more plausible. And does the post dismiss the unpopularity of the Walker’s lickspittles in the senate by invoking conveniently undocumented Media Bias? Oh, yes.

Meanwhile, in the midst of (correctly) noting that Walker’s union-busting legislation is substantively appalling but procedurally legitimate, Chait asks: “[c]onservatives are forgetting every single procedural complaint they made about rushed-through reforms that lack popular support — has a single right-winger who made a fuss over health care carried his objection through to Wisconsin?” Does Althouse embody this perfectly, right down to having freaked out about congressional Dems using procedural maneuvers similar to the ones Walker used to get his legislation through? I think you know the answer.  At this point, I think Althouse has just subcontracted the writing of her blog to Erick Erickson and Jim Hoft and told them to dumb it down a shade.

Send in the clowns

[ 30 ] March 17, 2011 |

If you thought the advocates of sham medicine would have the proper sense to avoid offering their services to the Japanese people in their time of distress — well, you would apparently be wrong:

(R)adioactive material carried by wind and air currents may spread contaminated material to neighboring islands and countries. For all concerned, there are protective steps that can be taken with homeopathy. Key remedies that have been used either in research or historically to prevent or treat radiation poisoning include the following: Cadmium iodide; Cadmium-sulph; Phosphorus; Strontium-carbonicum; and X-ray. If at risk of radiation exposure, any one of the above remedies may be taken as an emergency response, three times a day in a 30C potency. Do not exceed 6 doses without guidance from your homeopath.

The last line is especially hilarious, because for chrissakes, we wouldn’t want anyone overdosing on magical homeopathic water.

The folks responsible for the e-mail quoted above — an Australian group called, inexplicably, “Homeopathy Plus” — have helpfully provided the world with a ponderous, gibbering series of dubious claims about the efficacy of various homeopathic remedies for treating the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy (as if there were any meaningful comparison between fractionated, 60 gray blasts of photon beams and, say uncontrolled exposure to Cesium-137.) To their mild credit, our water-bearing friends don’t advise cancer patients to forego treatments that have actually been proven effective. But they do warn that homeopathic remedies are so overwhelmingly powerful that they must be used with caution and proper timing. To wit:

Not only can homeopathy treat many problems, it can also prevent them . . . . For this reason homoeopathic [sic] remedies for chemotherapy and radiotherapy side-effects should not be used AHEAD of treatment as they may also block the cell destroying effects of these approaches. Until more research is available in this area, it would be wise to use homeopathy only as side-effects occur AFTER treatment.

Good to know!

Meantime, over at the Hippie Lancet Huffington Post, someone is reminding us that lots of miso soup and brown rice will surely thwart the effects of radiation poisoning. Also good to know!


[ 29 ] March 16, 2011 |

All you need to know about Fred Hiatt’s crayon scribble page:

So it seems the difference between “right-leaning” and “left-leaning” columnists at the Washington Post is that the right-leaning list includes people who worked for Republican presidents while the left-leaning list merely includes a columnist who votes for Republican presidential candidates.

Who do you think will be the next “left-leaning” WaPo hire — Marshall Wittman, or Ann Althouse?


“Signing C.C. Sabathia Betrayed the Fundamental Yankee Principle of Keeping the Payroll Low.”

[ 21 ] March 16, 2011 |

I think that Paul’s post — which Rob references below — actually leaves out my favorite part of the linked Politico article. This is some classic comedy:

Palin’s politics of grievance and group identity, according to these critics, is a betrayal of conservative principles.

This is like saying that “George W. Bush’s deficit-expanding upper-class tax cuts are a betrayal of Republican principles” or “Parents Involved represented a betrayal of the conservative tradition of judicial restraint reflected by Bush v. Gore.” Grievance and identity politics define modern Republicanism; it’s just that the resentments are expressed on behalf of the powerful and/or overrepresented rather than the weak.

A Wingnut In Full

[ 11 ] March 16, 2011 |

Scott Walker is definitely part of the Republican “life begins at conception and ends at birth” faction:

His recently released budget proposes to repeal Wisconsin’s “contraceptive equity” law which stipulates that that health insurance plans in the state that cover prescription drugs cover contraception. The budget also eliminates the state’s participation in the Title V Maternal and Child Health program, which provides family planning services as well as other health services for both men and women, including prostate and cervical cancer screenings. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin argues that such a move would mean the loss of four million dollars (of both state and federal funds) affecting 50 health centers in the state (PP receives about one quarter of Wisconsin’s Title V funds).

[Via Kay Steiger.]

Helpful oppressors

[ 395 ] March 16, 2011 |


I have some thoughts at the Daily Beast about what Casey Heynes’ response to being informed that he’s fat might tell us about Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Casey’s shift from dissent to resistance, as they used to say in the 1960s, is of course extremely upsetting to people like Michelle, who want to “help” him overcome his “problem.”

This brings to mind parallels with various other civil rights movements. There have always been plenty of white people eager to help black people overcome their “problems” in the same way Michelle wants to help fat kids. They point out that a brother just needs to look and talk like Sidney Poitier and most people will stop hassling you about the black thing (hey it sort of worked for her husband).

Similarly, lots of men have over the years pointed out that women wouldn’t have so many problems fitting in to [male-dominated] society if they just stopped being so emotional and shit. And of course there’s a cottage industry dedicated to getting rid of oppression against gay people by turning them into straight people.

Inexplicably, at some point people start getting mad about receiving this sort of help. And then the helpful people get mad and resentful and scared in return. After all they were only trying to help!

Update: Several people have mentioned in comments that they can’t see how a campaign whose explicit purpose is to “solve” the “childhood obesity epidemic” within a generation (i.e., a campaign whose goal is to make sure that a generation from now there’s no or as little as humanly possible “childhood obesity”) involves fat shaming. This is precisely equivalent to a first lady making an assault on the “childhood homosexuality epidemic” her main public policy issue, with the goal of eliminating childhood homosexuality in a generation, and then having a bunch of right-thinking conservatives argue that this has nothing to do with gay bashing. Since doubleplusgoodthinking liberals seem to have a whole lot of trouble grasping this analogy, I’ll spell it out a little further: “Homosexuality = “Obesity.” “Gay” = “Fat.”

If you pathologize a human characteristic and then argue for eliminating this “disease” or “syndrome” you’ve invented via pseudo-scientific framing, it’s rather bizarre to claim that your pathological and eliminationist frame isn’t pathological and eliminationist. Saying you have nothing against “homosexuals” but that it would be a good thing to get them to stop being gay makes exactly as much sense as arguing that you have nothing against “obese” people but it would be a good thing to get them to stop being fat.

Update II: [gmack writes in comments]

De-lurking for a moment: one of the main moments in the gay liberation movement was to challenge the binary of homosexual vs. heterosexual and to replace it with the binary of gay vs. straight. They did so because the homo-hetero binary medicalized the issue (they argued that the labels turned the issue into the normal vs. the deviant), and instead they preferred the gay/straight designation because it was more egalitarian and highlighted the political dimensions of the conflict (being gay is not a medical designation but a politicized identity). In any case, Campos’ main goal is to do the same thing with “fat”–to transform the discussions about obesity from a medical/health discourse into a political one. This is not to endorse Campos’ position here or his rhetoric/argumentation style (in my view, he tends to obscure the crucial issues). Rather, I’m just trying to situate what is at issue here.

Let me also add, if somewhat hopelessly, that the question of whether being “fat” can be considered a political identity is not solvable by appeals to facts alone. When a new political identity is declared or appears on the scene, it always looks absurd (or even insulting, as that appearance often is done by way of comparison to earlier emergences–such that fat activism becomes a piece of earlier liberation movements, which some find to be a wrong and insulting demeaning of those movements; but it’s worth noting that the same attitudes emerged when, for instance, when feminists or gays raised their claims). Thus, the determination of whether one should accept or deny Campos’ claims should not be made by trying to figure out whether “fat activism” is “really” like gay activism or not; in the existing order of things, the claim is false, but the whole purpose of the claim is not to describe the truth of things but to bring into being a new organization of the world in which fat people are treated differently. So in my opinion, the question of whether to support Campos’ activism turns on the question of whether the world that this activism is trying to create is something we would want to endorse or not.

Gone ISAing

[ 3 ] March 16, 2011 |

While it’s hard to tear away from unfolding world events, I expect to be offline for most of the rest of the week to present research on transnational networks, the theory-policy divide, drone warfare, and zombies,* and to fulfill other role-related obligations at the International Studies Association. What if anything I do manage to post on will probably be related to those egg-headed topics. However for those interested I have finally managed to make some updates on the nuclear thread. See you when I get back.

*In which I will argue that fears of a zombie crisis have been greatly exaggerated relative to other pressing threats to human security.

The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore

[ 15 ] March 16, 2011 |

The DLC may have closed up shop, but we still have a pompous blowhard who inherited a Senate seat, did essentially nothing of value with it, and then followed up a bunch of high-minded guff about how he left the Senate to save the world by using his tenure as a platform to enrich himself in the service of reactionary interests to remind us about the emptiness and ugliness of “centrist” pro-business Democrats.

Hack Torture Apologist of the Day

[ 3 ] March 15, 2011 |

I was going to say it’s Marc Thiessen. But really, it’s Fred Hiatt for giving him a platform.