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After This Strained Comparison, Ms. Dowd Was Put on the 60-Day DL

[ 71 ] August 13, 2014 |

Maureen Dowd, really:

As our interview ended, I was telling him about my friend Michael Kelly’s idea for a 1-900 number, not one to call Asian beauties or Swedish babes, but where you’d have an amorous chat with a repressed Irish woman. Williams delightedly riffed on the caricature, playing the role of an older Irish woman answering the sex line in a brusque brogue, ordering a horny caller to go to the devil with his impure thoughts and disgusting desire.

I couldn’t wait to play the tape for Kelly, who doubled over in laughter

So when I think of Williams, I think of [Michael] Kelly. And when I think of Kelly, I think of Hillary, because Michael was the first American reporter to die in the Iraq invasion, and Hillary Clinton was one of the 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize that baloney war.

Let’s leave aside the nutty ethnic/gender politics, as much as they explain. I obviously have no problem with attacking Clinton on her Iraq War vote, particularly since she’s currently re-vindicating those of us who supported Obama in the 2008 primaries on foreign policy grounds. I’m not sure what it’s doing in a a Robin Williams remembrance, but whatever.

But Michael Kelly as a passive victim of the Iraq War? Really? Dowd is apparently hoping we’ve forgotten that Kelly was not merely a fanatical Iraq War supporter, but one of the most disgustingly jingoistic and demagogic ones. “That Kelly was brave in going to cover the combat,” Tom Scocca observes, “does not change the fact that he chose to be bold with other people’s lives.” Here, for example, is Kelly after Al Gore criticized the proposed invasion of Iraq:

Gore’s speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts — bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.

The column goes on to call Gore an idiot for saying that Osama bin Laden and other architects of the 9/11 attacks remained at large while Bush was busy preparing an invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. It must be read to be believed, although I don’t particularly recommend it. More here. I don’t wish death on anyone, but to pretend that Kelly was just a disinterested journalist rather than an influential proponent of the “baloney” Iraq War, please.

On a related note, I see that Dowd will now be writing for the NYT magazine. I assume her assignment will be to take over the “let’s do a point-by-point comparison of people with vaguely similar names” thing. (This week: Jean Vajean and Jean-Claude Van Damme! Are you laughing yet?) For virtually every writer in the world, including those who write obituaries, this assignment would make their writing less funny. But for Dowd, it would be exactly the right level in terms of both intellect and wit.

…see also. And here.

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Asbestos is Your Friend

[ 28 ] August 13, 2014 |

Nice to see the asbestos industry pushing its deadly product on poor nations like India. What are a few million developing world lives when there are profits for rich world corporations?

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Replicating Youngstown

[ 29 ] August 13, 2014 |

The story of Youngstown’s decline is one that many of you are familiar with. A big industrial steel town that was destroyed by the capital migration of the steel industry to the developing world. Nothing replaced it and today Youngstown is one of the poorest cities in the United States. While an extreme case, it’s story is not very different from Detroit, Flint, Rockford, Toledo, Camden, Harrisburg, Schenectady, and dozens of other cities, not only in the industrial heartland, but throughout much of the nation.

Hopelessness dominates the life of many of those who remain because stable employment, the core of an enjoyable and dignified life in our world, does not exist. And in this era of extreme capital mobility and the concentration of the world’s wealth into the accounts of the global 1%, Youngstown is likely to become closer to the model for the world’s economy than the exception. Too often, this isn’t realized, but this article does a good job placing Youngstown in context:

The 20th century employment model based upon domestic production of goods no longer exists in the Rust Belt. And as globalization and the service sector surge forward, the experiences of 21-year-old Bowman will be shared by millions more young people in the US and across the globe.

This is the logical progression of the global Gilded Age. Anytime you have people winning struggles to create quality jobs and dignified lives, that means those takers are stealing money from the makers who through their beneficence are providing them jobs. So the jobs have to go to people who will be truly grateful for work at sub-living wages, poor worker safety, no environmental protections, and no unions.

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On Free Tampons

[ 118 ] August 13, 2014 |

Earlier this week, Jessica Valenti suggested in a column that tampons should be free. I had never really thought about this before, being a guy and all, but it is self-evidently obvious that she’s correct. Menstruation is an issue, like much with our bodies, that the government should step up and provide the basic medical supplies for. Of course, like so many other basic products for our bodies and especially women’s bodies, it does not.

The response to her essay was typical. Valenti was inundated with hate mail, largely from Malkin’s flying monkeys of evil. Because women are gross or something and should be ashamed of their bodies. I do wonder how many Americans would vote on a proposal to shun menstruating women in the woods for a few days a month.

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R.I.P. Lauren Bacall

[ 42 ] August 12, 2014 |


I heard the old, old men say,
‘Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away.’
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
‘All that’s beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.’

Yeats, The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water

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Supporting Law School Transparency

[ 1 ] August 12, 2014 |

Law School Transparency is a classic example of the potential power of small-scale grass roots organizing. LST was founded five years ago by two Vanderbilt law students, who were concerned about the lack of reliable information about employment outcomes for law graduates. Operating on a budget of zero dollars, they campaigned for schools to release real employment figures, as opposed to the deeply misleading statistics almost all law schools were publicizing at the time (For example, these employment statistics made no distinction between working as a lawyer and a ten-hour per week barista, and they often featured “average” salary figures that failed to note the averages were based on the tiny percentage of class members who reported their salaries, who were almost always the people with high-paying jobs).

At first LST ran into a brick wall, but over time the organization — which if my understanding is correct has never included more than four people — has ended up playing a key role in successfully putting pressure on the ABA to force law schools to disgorge something that has begun to resemble actual employment information. LST’s web site has become an invaluable resource for prospective law students, where people can find answers to the two questions every such student should care about, almost to the exclusion of anything else, i.e., how much is this going to cost, and what are the most likely outcomes if I spend the next three years of my life at this school?

This past weekend LST’s co-founder Kyle McEntee spent a good deal of time and money flying to Boston, in order to appear before an ABA task force on the financing of higher education. I’ve known McEntee for three and half years now, and I never cease to be amazed by his tireless advocacy for a more rational and just system of American legal education.

To say LST operates on a shoestring budget is an understatement. The important work the organization continues to do requires a great deal of time and effort, and they need contributions to continue to do it.

Please consider making a donation to this fundraiser. All contributions are tax deductible.

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Americans Don’t Care about Climate Change

[ 80 ] August 12, 2014 |

Environmentalism as an active political movement with the ability to create major change has declined to its weakest point in several decades, with the failure to pass the cap and trade bill a shock to the movement’s leading organizations and a sign that their multi-decade strategy of expertise, lobbying, and fundraising was not working. That said, surveys show people still care about the environment. But they don’t care about climate change (or more accurately, they care about it less than all other major environmental issues). So the chances of really doing anything to stop it seem increasingly remote.

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IP and Cyberespionage

[ 2 ] August 12, 2014 |

My latest at War is Boring investigates the connections between cyber-espionage and intellectual property law.  This is part of the Patents for Power book project, so I’m particularly interested in feedback.

Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system may not work, but China would like to know for itself.

Recent reports indicate that Chinese hackers have attempted to steal data on the Iron Dome from Israeli contractor Rafael. Iron Dome is depicted above in the photo by the AP’s Tsafrir Abayov.

This instance of cyber-espionage is only the latest in a series of attacks targeting different defense firms around the world.

Beyond the obvious fact of the development of the Internet, trends in intellectual property law are transforming the nature of military industrial espionage.


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Unity Trip

[ 53 ] August 12, 2014 |

Andrew Cuomo, fleeing scandal that is torpedoing his presidential ambitions (world’s smallest violin playing) decides to visit Israel in a show of support of that nation’s racist indiscriminate killing of civilians of Gaza as it seeks to double down on its apartheid policies.

Jerks of the World, Unite!

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Standing Athwart History, Indeed

[ 142 ] August 12, 2014 |

It seems right that in the same week Kevin Williamson argued that as long as you ignore African-Americans American federalism has been awesome, he would also write something like this:

There are a few lines in here that a good editor would cut but could be waved off as unwitting bad judgment — the Heart of Darkness reference, three fifths, making fun of the hair. But when the writer also decides the best comparison for a young black kid’s behavior is a monkey and to gratuitously question his parentage, there’s really not much question, is there?

There’s also the unstated humor of Williamson describing his subject as “racially aggrieved,” as if the description does not apply to Williamson himself, or as if the kid’s aggrievedness is not, in this case, warranted.

I assume that the National Review was looking for someone who combined John Derbyshire’s racial politics and the pretentious pseudo-intellectualism of Roger Kimball, and on these criteria the Williamson hire has to be considered a major coup.

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Marxist Lincoln

[ 74 ] August 12, 2014 |

Look, if you have mainstream Republicans looking to return the nation to the next Gilded Age, it only makes sense that really crazy right-wingers would be longing wistfully for the earlier period of slavery, interfered with by the same perfidious activist government bringing you such horrors as roads, sewers, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Religious right broadcaster Kevin Swanson agreed with one of his guests that Abraham Lincoln imposed socialism on the United States during the “war against the South” – more commonly known as the Civil War.

Swanson hosted neo-Confederate author Walter Kennedy last month on his radio program, reported Right Wing Watch, where the pair argued the Republican Party had been founded by “radical socialists and communists.”

“The Democrats, both Northern and Southerners, believed in limited government, and the Marxists hated that concept,” Kennedy said. “They wanted to do away with states’ rights and limited government so that they’d have one big all-powerful indivisible government that could force its will upon the American people.”

Of course, the same guy said that Frozen was a plot to turn young girls into satanic lesbians. Given the plague of 2014, i.e, any gathering of more than 3 children between the ages of 4 and 12 singing that annoying theme song, I’d like to agree, but then I think, as a liberal, I objectively want all of us to become satanic lesbians, not to mention become Marxists that free black people from treasonous Confederates and their idiot racist Glenn Beck listening descendants longing to rape enslaved black women again without consequences. So sing away annoying 6 year olds, sing away. And then burn a crucifix, just like Barack Obama taught you.

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[ 32 ] August 12, 2014 |

Have to give Yao Ming a lot of credit. He could have taken the Jordan/Kobe/(to a lesser extent) LeBron path of superstardom, but instead he has engaged in political causes. Going the Jabbar/Ali/Jim Brown route has no doubt made him enemies, but his work on behalf of wildlife conservation in China is very, very important.

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