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Pyror Unopposed

[ 0 ] March 11, 2008 |

Wow. If the GOP can’t scrounge up a challenge to a one-term incumbent in a red state, things are looking very good in ’08. (And if the Dems don’t get a larger majority in the Senate, talking about the precise details of health care plans won’t ending up being very important.)

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The Great P.C. Dodge

[ 1 ] March 11, 2008 |

Attempts by the staff at the WaPO to justify printing Charlotte Allen’s women-are-teh-stupid projection were, needless to say, embarrassing. (They don’t discuss Hirshman’s “women who don’t agree with me that they should all vote for the candidate with the more conservative record are stupid” op-ed, which was no prize either, at all.) The assignment editor claims that “funny, clearly tongue-in-cheek and hyperbolic but with a serious point,” which is rather problematic given that it was about at funny as Hepatitis B and yet was also entirely lacking in any serious point. (What the point was, the editor doesn’t say.) Promfret, meanwhile, hauls out the inevitable phrase: “it presented a different, albeit very non-PC take at a time when women and politics is a riveting topic in this country.” See, if you don’t like it, you must be…politically correct! Somerby unloads:

Very non-PC! To our ear, Pomfret self-identified with this childish formulation. He seems to be one of those Aggrieved White Men who simply hate that “political correctness”—who hate the notion that they should be courteous or thoughtful in the things they choose to say about other societal groups. Among boo-hooing white males of this type, aggrieved complaints about “PC” are really cries for return to the (Archie) Bunker times—to the time when Foolish White Men could say whatever came into their heads, without regard for how their comments might affect the sensibilities of the groups they love to ridicule. Pomfret is sick of all that PC! To our ear, he self-identifies with that childish statement.

It’s a great scam. The only use for use of variations of “politically correct” is to use the obsolete cultural meaning (suggesting hypersensitivity to minor or non-existent offenses) to insulate gross bigotry from any scrutiny or criticism. Pomfret, like his assignment editor, understandably fails to indentify exactly what was useful about Allen’s different take; after all, there wasn’t anything of value in it unless you think Father Knows Best had an excessively complex and progressive conception of gender relations. And it’s especially infuriating hearing the “P.C.” card being played by someone who somehow can’t locate a significant number of female candidates who can climb over the exceptionally low bar for intelligent discourse set by people like Richard Cohen and Charles Krauthammer. To paraphrase Robert Christgau on irony, being “politically incorrect” is an excuse for anything and a reason for nothing.

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McCain: Still His Own Guy

[ 11 ] March 11, 2008 |

While making the obvious but necessary point that a McCain presidency would be terrible for reproductive freedom, Robyn Blumner wonders if bovine idiocy is in fact a job requirement for the Republican nomination.

Apparently, yes:

The New York Times Web site reported the following exchange with a reporter in Iowa in March 2007:

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

What Blumner doesn’t point out is by accepting the president’s policy like a warm communion wafer, McCain is also announcing his de facto support for pork. In the interest of funding the evidence-free obsessions of the Christian right, more than a billion dollars of federal money has been shoveled into a pile and set on fire since 1998; most of that money has been gobbled up by folks like this:

Claudia Horn, through her firm Performance Results Inc., collects $1,551 per day for training groups in program and [abstinence-only] curriculum evaluation. According to its federal filing, PRI’s 2005 sales to state and local governments were $1.1 million, with an additional $250,000 coming from the Feds, including such clients as the Department of Justice, the Office of Personnel Management, and Housing and Urban Development. But Claudia Horn’s indirect public receipts are likely even higher, as her-private sector clients include IYD and the National Fatherhood Initiative (once headed by her husband, Wade), each of which is heavily funded through federal grants.

Anne and Gordon Badgley, who received $9 million in federal grants for their nonprofit, Heritage Community Services, also set up Badgley Enterprises to market and sell their abstinence-only curriculum, Heritage Keepers. While Heritage’s IRS 990s are sketchy and marked by vague expenses, even a student loan repayment, they clearly show that the Badgleys pocketed $174,201 from the taxpayer-funded nonprofit by buying the curriculum from their own private company.

If you’re the sort of person who’s likely to miss this sort of shit after Bush leaves office, a vote for McCain makes a tremendous amount of sense.

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Renounce and Reject?

[ 19 ] March 10, 2008 |

I agree with publius: this reject and renounce game could be fun to watch. What will HRC say?

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More on the Prison Nation

[ 0 ] March 10, 2008 |

Certainly no longer the big news of the day (if it ever was), but the Times editorial board got on the Prison Nation bandwagon today with a damn good editorial.

The editorial touches on the issues of cost that I have been raising:

Nationwide, the prison population hovers at almost 1.6 million, which surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987. Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon devote as much money or more to corrections as they do to higher education.

Seems like that comparison puts into perspective how we might argue that prisons are a significant waste of money and mis-allocation of resources.

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[ 40 ] March 10, 2008 |


To repeat what I said when a Republican was involved recently:

  • If I were in charge of writing laws, I do not believe that anyone belongs in jail for procuring or (certainly) selling sex for money, or that any criminal offense more severe than a ticket for the purchaser should be involved.
  • If poor sex workers are thrown in jail under existing laws, then affluent white johns sure as hell should be too. This goes double for people who have positions that might allow them to work to repeal laws they don’t feel are just.
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Comparing Finales

[ 15 ] March 10, 2008 |

I wish Adam Sternbergh wouldn’t project his philistinism on me: “For everyone who felt cheated by the stubbornly ambivalent series finale of The Sopranos — which is to say, everyone.” Watching the finale of The Sopranos again before yesterday’s finale for kicks, I remain more convinced than ever that the brilliant final sequence will 1)be remembered as a great moment in television history, with cavils from people who prefer neat bows (perhaps Meadow racing to meet Finn at the airport cross-cut with Tony’s and Philly’s crews involved in a 20 minute shootout?) only adding to its aura, and 2)it’s the major thing that doesn’t make a comparison to The Wire finale look embarrassing. It had other moments — Meadow’s justification for not becoming a doctor being especially satisfying. But while the conclusion looks better on multiple viewings, the slack parts stick out even more: the stuff with Paulie and the cat, especially, would be pretty lame time-filler in an early setup episode, let alone the finale. (The inability to use Paulie effectively was a crucial element of the post-Season 5 dropoff; the silly soap opera plot with his mother wasn’t as bad as the dream sequence, but that’s only true in the sense that National Treasure is probably better than The Hottie and the Nottie.) And Chase, while a great writer and conceptmeister, isn’t always a great director: Philly’s vlugar death scene might have been OK without the sitcommy, poorly edited reaction shots.

If The Wire‘s conclusion didn’t have a formal tour de force like the diner sequence, it was a great deal more consistent. I’d like to be contrarian enough to defend the newspaper stuff, but I can’t; not only is the “chasing Pulitzer” theme not terribly interesting or conducive to good characters, the arc was too predictable. But everything else was gripping and intelligent, as always, and it looks like Clark Johnson (whose presence was often the only reason the newspaper scenes were even watchable) has the ability to be a very fine director. The various intersections of corruption were perfect, and the return of Presbo with Duquan heartbreaking in a way that Simon properly didn’t spoil with an implausible happy ending. I also liked the way-are-they-now montage focused on the persistence institutional destruction in particular. Not everybody is ruined by the system — some have options — but nobody can act with any integrity within it. If Season 5 was the weakest, and I think most of us agree that it was, that was one hell of a great show, and it wrapped up about as well as could be hoped for.

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Old News Worth Revisiting

[ 20 ] March 10, 2008 |

This is nothing new, but it’s worth revisiting now and again. For the monthly cost of the war in Iraq, conservatively estimated for our purposes at $8 billion, the Pentagon could buy:

10 F-22A Raptors ($150 million each)
23 F-35 Lightning IIs ($100 million each)
4 Littoral Combat Ships ($650 million each)
1 Zumwalt Destroyer ($1.5 billion each)

… and still have $100 million left to help us feel good about the Air Force.

Every. Single. Month.

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Tuckered Out

[ 8 ] March 10, 2008 |

Like most of you I’m sure, my first reaction to this was “Tucker Carlson still has a show in MSNBC? Is Dennis Miller still there?” It is oddly reassuring, however, that sometimes low ratings and abysmal quality can kill even a conservative talk show.

There’s still time for Alan Keyes is Making Sense to come back, though!

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My Wire Finale Thoughts… Spoilers!!!!!

[ 24 ] March 10, 2008 |

Damn. Just…. damn.

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McCain for Change? Methinks Not.

[ 1 ] March 10, 2008 |

Think that a McCain administration would be better or different than W.’s? Think again. Turd blossom is back and we could be headed for another 4 (or 8, god forbid) years of W-like governance.

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Who Would Win in a Fight?

[ 60 ] March 10, 2008 |

Marlo Stanfield vs. Michael Corleone?

Consider this a Wire finale open thread. Those who fear spoilers, beware.

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