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Against Amazon

[ 109 ] October 10, 2014 |

Worthy of discussion.

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The Israeli Sub Deterrent

[ 28 ] October 10, 2014 |

My latest at the National Interest works through the deterrent capabilities of Israel’s sub force:

Do the Dolphins provide Israel with a credible second-strike deterrent capability? No, not by the standards of every other submarine deterrent force. The obstacles are too numerous to think of the Dolphins as representing the same sort of “dead hand” retaliatory capability that we associate with other sub forces. Israel has other, more capable and more survivable means of retaliating against Iran, or even launching a first strike. At this point, the Dolphins amount to “security theater,” an effort to convey the image of additional protection without actually providing much in the way of defense.


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Way Too Close to the Oval Office

[ 87 ] October 10, 2014 |

John McCain’s judgment cannot be questioned.

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America’s Patriotic Singing Highway

[ 83 ] October 9, 2014 |

Oh America:

Sounds emanating from 1,300 feet of roadway just west of Tijeras have been listened to around the world, and it’s more than just tires on pavement catching international attention.

The Singing Road, installed last week, uses rumble strips to play “America the Beautiful” for drivers who obey the speed limit as they cruise down Route 66.

The National Geographic Channel approached the New Mexico Department of Transportation about the project last June, asking if they could construct the road for an upcoming series. The project was privately funded by National Geographic and NMDOT didn’t make – or spend – any money on it. Since the road was finished last week, Melissa Dosher, the public information officer for NMDOT, said she’s fielded questions from television stations as far away as Australia.

“My boss thought it was a really cool idea,” Dosher said.”It promotes public safety because the goal is to have people drive the speed limit. Plus it can be an attraction along Route 66.”

In addition to encouraging cars to slow down to hear the tune, Dosher said the rumble strips can help keep sleepy drivers awake as they wind their way through the Tijeras Canyon. The attraction is expected to draw visitors from Albuquerque to the East Mountains for tourism.

I think this would encourage me to speed. If you go too fast, do the rumble strips play The Internationale instead?

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Southern California Bleg

[ 166 ] October 9, 2014 |

Next week, I have to attend a conference in Newport Beach, California. This is pretty much the only area of the West I have never been to. In fact, I haven’t been to the LA area at all except a quick trip to Pasadena in 1995 to watch Oregon play in the Rose Bowl. I have scheduled a bit of time to do some sightseeing. What should I do?

The one thing I am definitely absolutely going to visit is the Nixon Library. That’s going to be awesome. I hope there’s a bronze statue of Nixon shaking hands with Pinochet.

Other than that, I am pretty open. So what do you recommend in the general vicinity, which could extend as far as LA I guess. I’ll have a car. Favorite restaurants? Hiking trail? Museum? Brewery? Random weird thing? Won’t be able to do everything or most things, but I will be able to do a couple of things.

I suppose I’m supposed to be excited about the beach and yeah, I’m sure that’s cool. But I not much of a beach guy and I live near the water as is. If there’s good people watching, that could be cool though.

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Congratulations to Microsoft’s Satya Nadella

[ 35 ] October 9, 2014 |

The latest graduate of the Larry Summers school of leadership.

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On the Ramparts!

[ 74 ] October 9, 2014 |

I, for one, am glad that some doctors out there are brave enough to hold back the tide of “black lung” addled coal miners/parasites who are threatening the profitability of our coal companies and our insurance companies:

After working underground in the coal mines of southern West Virginia for almost 35 years, Steve Day thought it was obvious why he gasped for air, slept upright in a recliner, and inhaled oxygen from a tank 24 hours a day.

More than half a dozen doctors who saw the masses in his lungs or the test results showing his severely impaired breathing were also in agreement.
The clear diagnosis was black lung.

Yet, when I met Steve in April 2013, he had lost his case to receive benefits guaranteed by federal law to any coal miner disabled by black lung. The coal company that employed the miner usually pays for these benefits, and, as almost always happens, Steve’s longtime employer had fought vigorously to avoid paying him. As a result, he and his family were barely scraping by, sometimes resorting to loans from relatives or neighbors to make it through the month.

Like many other miners, he had lost primarily because of the opinions of a unit of doctors at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions that had long been the go-to place for coal companies seeking negative X-ray readings to help defeat a benefits claim. The longtime leader of the unit, Dr. Paul Wheeler, testified against Steve, and the judge determined that his opinion trumped all others, as judges have in many other cases.

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The Problem is Also the Maximums

[ 16 ] October 9, 2014 |

Andrea Jones has an excellent piece on The War On (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs and mass incarceration. I do have one quibble: the framing suggesting defining the problem with draconian drug laws as “mandatory minimums.” Now, to be clear, the mandatory minimums for drug offenses should be reduced, and as the Supreme Court observed in the context of the death penalty they don’t even really reduce arbitrariness so much as transfer it from judges to the less accountable prosecutor’s office. Nevertheless, reducing mandatory minimums is far from sufficient. Maintaining the judicial discretion to impose lengthy maximum sentences for drug possession will lie around like a loaded weapon, leaving far too many people in prison. The problem with mandatory minimums isn’t the restriction on judicial discretion per se; it’s that people end up in prison who shouldn’t be there. This problem needs to be attacked from both ends.

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Toxic Tokenism

[ 154 ] October 9, 2014 |

If you accuse a woman who’s also a misogynist that she enjoys the attention and validation she gets from male misogynists, you’re bound to be accused of misogyny yourself. It’s a cute trick, but here’s why it doesn’t work: so long as there are oppressed groups there are going to be members of those groups who work to appeal to the dominant group. (These dominant groups always seem to made up primarily of straight, white men–it’s weird how that works.) Anyhow, toxic tokenism is certainly not something that only conservative women engage in. People of color and LBGT folks also dabble. Why? It’s the allure of being extraordinary! Let me illustrate…

Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower: Hey, cauliflower-hating humans, I know you hate cauliflower. I totally get it. We’re all white and cauliflowery gross. I know. I hate us too.

Anti-Cauliflowerites: Yeah, totally. Most of you are pretty gross and stupid and taste like poop.

Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower: Oh, I absolutely agree. But I’m not like those other heads of cauliflower–I’m special, I’m different. See, I know you’re right about us being gross. And I’m not always going on about how you should slather us in oil and roast us in the oven until we’re golden and sweet-nutty-tasting…maybe toss us with a little parmesan cheese…Hold on. I got distracted. Anyway, yes, we suck.

Anti-Cauliflowerites: You know what? You’re pretty cool. You’re one of the good ones. I wish all the cauliflower could be like you.

Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower: *long, sad sigh* Me too. [Inner monologue: NOT REALLY! NOT REALLY! NOT REALLY!]

The spirit of Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower can be seen inhabiting the bodies of lots of toxic tokens:

Sarah Palin: “You’re not like those other women–you’re not an ugly feminist and you’re procreating like a champ! We give you an 8 on the Duggar Scale!”

Ben Carson: “You’re not like those other Blacks. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard a rap song in your life. Also, we know nothing about you but want you to be president.”

Log Cabin Republicans: “Sure, we hate you, but last time we checked your ripply muscled arms–toned from your last mutual masturbation party–are just as good at pulling the voting lever as they are for all the hot, disgusting, titillating…hold on. We got distracted. Anyway, we’re totally down with your voting for us. But no traditional marriage for you!”

To which all the misogynist women and self-loathing people of color and gays say “Make me your token!” Because the allure of being special, of being different, of being extraordinary is JUST. THAT. STRONG for some very weak people.

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Thursday Links

[ 48 ] October 9, 2014 |

For your Thursday morning coffee drinking pleasure:

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Fracking for the Cure

[ 17 ] October 8, 2014 |

Nothing like pinkwashing an energy process like fracking that dumps untold tons of toxins into the environment through pink drill bits. Nice.

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Unions Shouldn’t Fund Their Enemies

[ 30 ] October 8, 2014 |

Talked about this last week, but Arkansas electing Tom Cotton is going to be horrible. So I don’t blame liberals and unions going all in for Mark Pryor, bleh as he is.

On the other hand, I do think unions should have some baseline standards before they give a politician money. For instance, should teachers’ unions give money to Pryor when he turns around and gets in bed with the union-busting charter school movement? I would argue no, but they are giving money to Pryor anyway. It’s one thing to give money to someone who is your not greatest supporter in Congress. It’s another to give it to someone who openly opposes what you stand for. I have trouble believing that’s in their members’ interest. After all, it is not unions’ job to be the only progressive organization to have to ignore their own self-interest for the broader progressive movement. It’s not as if NOW is expected to work for anti-abortion Democrats or Sierra Club is supposed to get out the vote for politicians in the pocket of the oil industry. But unions routinely go to the mat for politicians who don’t pay them back. Tom Cotton is bad but on the issue of teachers unions, Pryor is not much better and certainly not good.

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