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The Worst Outcome of Stalinist Aesthetics Since An American Carol

[ 0 ] February 9, 2009 |

Apparently there is now a self-described wingnut answer to Doonesbury. I dunno, I think it makes me miss the crudely drawn cartoon duck reading Glenn Beck transcripts. Maybe they should start smaller, with a wingnut response to “Hi and Lois” or something. Then the not-funniness would just be an homage.

The most expensive governor in the country

[ 0 ] February 8, 2009 |

Always remember that the free market is always vastly more efficient and less wasteful than government:

New state gift disclosures show it cost Liberty Legal Institute and the two law firms working with it $185,000 to represent six Alaska legislators in an unsuccessful lawsuit to halt their colleagues’ “Troopergate” investigation.

The legislators listed a $25,000 gift of services from the Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute. Liberty is the legal arm of the Free Market Foundation, which is associated with evangelical leader James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, and lists its guiding principles as limited government and promotion of Judeo-Christian values. The lawmakers also disclosed a $120,000 gift of services from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, a national firm that appeared at hearings on behalf of Liberty Legal.

Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson represented the six legislators in the case as well, and turned to Liberty Legal for its constitutional expertise. The lawmakers reported a $40,000 gift of services from Clarkson’s firm.

That brings the total bill for their lawsuit to $185,000.

This seems awfully bizarre. The lawyer retained by the Legislative Council earned just under $30,000 for the effort. Ordinarily, I’d be delighted to learn that a right wing legal defense organization had just blown a couple hundred thousand dollars, but I’m assuming there’s a sizable tax advantage to be gained from such a venture — not to mention the wingnut public relations/donor utility that would come from trying to protect Sarah Palin from the godless socialists who opposed her right to abuse her office. I’d imagine the $185G will prove to be a fairly good investment in the long run. Can anyone make me feel better by showing how wrong I am to assume this?

I wanna play the game you missed

[ 0 ] February 8, 2009 |

In these dark hours, nothing lifts the spirit like a good swine- and throat-rape-themed manifesto.

Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity….

The multi-generational financial rape that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and so many members of our Congress are trying to force down our throats—under increasing threats and ever-louder fear-mongering—is a betrayal of the core ideals of our Founding Fathers.

We face a very simple choice here, in early February of 2009, my fellow Americans.

We stop the fencing today.

We stop our government, Republican and Democrat alike, and declare that they will not have their bloated stimulus, this financial rape of our children’s future, that dwarfs the costs of the entire Iraq War and Afghan War combined.

We will shout out NO MORE.

Or in the not too distant future, we will face a far darker decision, that of surrendering what little of our freedom that remains to the all powerful government, or sharpening our tusks, and going to war yet again against tyranny. Hopefully, you will act to day and not allow yourself to be led dumbly into that pen. You will stop it, now, before it can successfully be constructed.

This doesn’t hold a candle to the greatest wingnut pep talk of the past five years, but it’s pretty impressive stuff nonetheless.

If only there were some way for Bob to escape the hog pen….

Plausible Lies, Mr. Karzai…

[ 0 ] February 8, 2009 |

The key to diplomacy is to tell lies plausible enough that the listener isn’t embarrassed:

A foretaste of what would be in store for President Hamid Karzai after the election of a new American administration came last February, when Joseph R. Biden Jr., then a senator, sat down to a formal dinner at the palace during a visit here.

Between platters of lamb and rice, Mr. Biden and two other American senators questioned Mr. Karzai about corruption in his government, which, by many estimates, is among the worst in the world. Mr. Karzai assured Mr. Biden and the other senators that there was no corruption at all and that, in any case, it was not his fault.

The senators gaped in astonishment. After 45 minutes, Mr. Biden threw down his napkin and stood up.

“This dinner is over,” Mr. Biden announced, according to one of the people in the room at the time. And the three senators walked out, long before the appointed time.

Although, frankly, Karzai may have learned from eight years of experience with the Bush administration that Americans will believe anything. Via SWJ.

Bloody Coup

[ 0 ] February 8, 2009 |

In light of recent developments, I would like to reaffirm my support for and complete loyalty to the Colonial government, its legitimate civilian leadership, and its duly appointed military commanders. Oh, and permanent alliance with the Cylons is a really, really good idea. That is all.

Have you priced ivory backstratchers lately?

[ 0 ] February 7, 2009 |

I’ve often remarked that the New York Times non-news sections too often present the implication that their audience is made up primarily of multimillionaires. One of the worst examples I can recall was an article about how annoying it is to run into those people you were trying to get away from when vacationing in the Hamptons. I think we’ve got a new winner:

Five hundred thousand dollars — the amount President Obama wants to set as the top pay for banking executives whose firms accept government bailout money — seems like a lot, and it is a lot. To many people in many places, it is a princely sum to live on. But in the neighborhoods of New York City and its suburban enclaves where successful bankers live, half a million a year can go very fast.

And it goes on and on like this. That people adjust their lifestyles to match their salaries will come as a revelation to absolutely no one. The news that New York is an expensive place to live is equally unsuprising. Beyond that, on it’s face, the article offers nothing by way of perspective or insight to the reader. If the point of this article isn’t a ham-fisted attempt to create sympathy for wealthy bankers who’ve been making millions for years and hasn’t bothered to save enough to withstand an income reduction, I’m not sure what the point of it could be. Fortunately, it’s so ludicrously tone-deaf that (outside of the Villagers who no doubt share these urgent conerns) it seems more likely to have the opposite effect.

Manas Fallout

[ 0 ] February 7, 2009 |

My hopes for sanity between Russia and the US may have been premature:

The United States will pursue a missile defense plan that has angered the Kremlin, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Saturday, in a signal that the post-cold-war tensions that have flared recently between Washington and Moscow could continue into the new Obama administration…

But any chance for a rapprochement between the United States and Russia at this conference all but evaporated, foreign policy experts said, after the announcement on the Kyrgyz base. Mr. Obama plans to send as many as 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan over the next two years; shaky overland supply routes through Pakistan would make it difficult for the United States to adjust to the loss of the base, in Manas, Kyrgyzstan.

This is entirely unsurprising, given the circumstances of the loss of the base. What bothers me isn’t that the game is being played, but that the players seem to be approaching it incoherently. On the upside, Biden left plenty of rhetorical space for compromise on the Polish-Czech missile defense system; it’s unclear whether the Russians will prove receptive.

Institutional Reform Note

[ 0 ] February 7, 2009 |

The comments here focusing (correctly) on the age of potential judicial appointments — a problem given that current norms favor appellate judges and there hasn’t been a Democratic president for 8 years (and moreover that president mostly had a Republican Senate and didn’t make judges a high priority) — reminds me that it would be much better for justices to be appointed to fixed, non-renewable terms. This would (largely) fix the problem of some presidents randomly getting more appointments than others and age being given an inappropriate priority in nominating decisions.

Make It Stop

[ 0 ] February 7, 2009 |

Oh, God, coverage of the now nearly-at-hand beginning of the baseball season will once again be dominated by the thoroughly uninteresting news that completely unenforced nominal rules against drug use were systematically violated, as they have been throughout baseball history except that it was cute when most of the players were white players like Mickey Mantle may have routinely taken performance-enhancing amphetamines cute pills but were upstanding citizens who payed for the love of the game. I just regret that it wasn’t Jeter who was caught, not because I would care but because it would cause sportswriters to claim that it doesn’t actually matter and spare us the empty moralizing.

And just since it’s been a few days since the last flame war on the topic, I thought I’d throw in this from Bill James at his subscription site, which gets at the issue nearly perfectly:

Who was it exactly that said that Jeter was overrated? I don’t think it’s an issue of his being overrated exactly; it is more an issue of his being fawned over. Maybe I’m missing something, but I think most people acknowledge that he’s a great player. Bobby Abreu is a great player, too, but nobody feels compelled to tell you once an hour or so that he is not only a great player but a great team leader, a clutch hitter, a role model for children, a hero to firemen, the greatest baserunner since DiMaggio, has the work ethic of Bear Bryant, the courage of a Braveheart, the modesty of Ghandi, the footwork of Nijinski, the charisma of a movie star and the baseball instincts of John McGraw. But no Yankee broadcast is complete without at least three or four paeans to Jeter’s virtues. It’s unnecessary, it’s childish, and it’s embarrassing.

The one caveat is that he has been overrated as a defensive player, although not necessarily as a player over all (or, if he has been, it’s only because Babe Ruth wasn’t as good as Michael Kay makes Jeter out to be.) But Jeter certainly is a great player, and the way he’s treated by the media and broadcasters (and not just local ones) is utterly embarrassing (and may well have cost him 2 MVP awards he arguably deserved.) And incidentally, it’s weird that Abreu — similar to but somewhat better than Jeter as an offensive player, somewhat less valuable as a defensive player (below-average corner OF vs. really bad SS — how many runs is that?) can’t get a contract.

Friday Cat Blogging: Beau

[ 0 ] February 7, 2009 |

Beau’s relationship with this stuffed animal is of a far more wholesome and family-friendly nature than some of deranged sex fiends you see around here. Mostly he just carries it around by the neck, and launches the occasional surprise attack.

For the love of…

[ 0 ] February 7, 2009 |

Oh, please. The country has vaporized a million jobs in two months. For the past several weeks, critics of the stimulus bill have been provided with disproportionate airtime to make demonstrably stupid arguments about the economy while everything swirls in a tight spiral toward the bottom. Meanwhile network executives are pissing their pants because they might have to yank an episode of “House” if the President decides to explain why a global depression would be, you know, bad. Perhaps my memory is slipping, but I don’t recall this sort of hand-wringing when Bush gave that Monday-night speech in Cincinnati.

Justice Picks

[ 0 ] February 6, 2009 |

A couple of commenters in the previous thread have asked about who I’d like to see chosen if (God forbid) Ginsburg is forced to leave the Court. I addressed this in a post a while back. I still like Kagan, but I assume Obama would want her to get more seasoning as Solicitor General, and that’s OK with me. Of the other candidates being mentioned, based on what I know, I find Diane Wood an especially attractive possibility. Jennifer Granholm is interesting. Myself, I think someone with her background would be a useful addition to the Court, but Obama may be reluctant to go against recent norms that emphasize judicial experience and I don’t feel strongly enough about Granholm to object very strongly. Kathleen Sullivan would also be a good pick; she has a lot of expertise in the LBGT issues likely to be more important in the federal courts in coming years and has a solid record.