Subscribe via RSS Feed


[ 17 ] December 13, 2007 |

Yglesias on the Jesus-Lucifer brotherhood thing:

[Jess L. Christensen] clearly seems to think Mormons have some distinctive doctrine on this point. Kim Farah, while not quite contradicting anything in the latter excerpt, is clearly trying to give the reverse impression . . . that Mormons just believe what “other Christians believe.” From where I sit, this particular doctrine doesn’t sound especially odd (two brothers: one good, one evil, destined to eternal struggle for the souls of men — what’s wrong with that?) so I don’t really know why the church would be weird about it.

Beats me as well. So long as one of them stays locked in the attic eating buckets of fish heads, I don’t see any cause for concern.

Someone should, of course, be asking Huckabee and every other self-professed Christian candidate about the batshittery that — at least as far as I’ve found — makes a sober reading of the Bible all but impossible.

Share with Sociable

Worst American Birthdays, vol. 34

[ 0 ] December 13, 2007 |

Note: I wrote this last year before the birthday series actually started; in the spirit of inclusion — and because I just received a large pile of stuff to grade — I’m reposting it today….

Ted Nugent — rock guitarist, walking phallus and self-parodying right-winger — turns 59 today. He shares his birthday with the legendary Alvin York, who led a devastating attack on a nest of German machine-gunners during the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne in 1918; on more than one occasion, Nugent has expressed hope that Sgt. York might be “cloned,” in spirit if not in fact.

Ted Nugent also shares a birthday with Mary Todd Lincoln, who was gibbering mad.

Rising to fame in the 1970s with a string of somewhat well-regarded, jizz-splattered albums, “The Nuge” has spent the last two decades descending the evolutionary tree with artistic and political statements that grate against the ears with equal degrees of intensity. Only the long arc of history will allow us to judge whether Nugent’s greatest crime was to participate in the objectively awful “supergroup” Damn Yankees — or to become the Charlton Heston of his generation, promoting firearms with onanistic glee in one of the most violent nations in human history. Nugent, who obsessively congratulates himself for his environmental consciousness — eating, as we know, only what he kills — has nevertheless vigorously supported both wars in Iraq, declaring quite frankly that “some Arab numb-nut” should not be entitled to control “all our fuel.” As perhaps the greatest chickenhawk in modern rock history, Nugent received a student deferment for enrolling in Oakland Community College; in 1977, however, he told High Times that he stopped bathing, soiled his pants deliberately, and took crystal meth in the weeks leading up to his physical. Given the opportunity to atone for his self-confessed cowardice, Nugent has traveled with the USO to Fallujah and to Afghanistan, where he was allowed to play with automatic weapons and defacate in one of Saddam Hussein’s toilets. He later offered his uninformed assessment that the United States’ difficulties in Iraq have resulted from an unwillingness to “Nagasaki them.”

An avid admirer of George W. Bush, Nugent moved from Michigan to Crawford, Texas, several years ago. Nonetheless, he has suggested that he might return to his native state to run for governor. Should his political ambitions bear fruit, one wonders how well his views on early childhood education would fly with the voters of Michigan. A few years back, Nugent outlined his thoughts on firearms education, arguing that all American children should be given weapons training in elementary school. As he explained, the first day of the firearms course would conclude with a trip to what he called “The White Room,” where the lessons of firearms safety would be rendered with all the subtlety of A Clockwork Orange

The children would be led into a properly constructed prefab shooting range chamber with all white walls, ceiling and floor, with a nice white table at the far end. On the white table would sit six all-white gallon cans of tomato juice with yellow smiley faces on them.

The kids would be seated and provided ear and eye protection. The instructor would then put on his ears and eyes, look squarely and sternly into the faces of the children, slam back the bolt of his AR-15 with the muzzle pointing back at the juice cans. He would then speak in a loud, clear voice, saying, “Pay very close attention, please.” At which point he would level the .223 and in a smooth, rapid succession, commence to annihilate three cans in a shower of exploding red juice, splashing violently all over the pretty white walls, table, ceiling and floor, himself, and even some of those in attendance. Slinging the long arm onto his shoulder, our shooter would then unholster his sidearm and do the same to the remaining three cans with the same dynamic results. Holstering his handgun, he then would turn to face the roomful of stunned kids, fold his arms across his chest, and allow blatant facts to permeate and stain the psyche and souls of everyone there.

Share with Sociable

"A revolution but half-accomplished"

[ 36 ] December 12, 2007 |

Reading part of an econ dissertation linked by Yglesias, I’m reminded Carl Schurz’s famous description of Reconstruction. In her project, University of Michigan graduate student Melinda Miller examines the post-civil war economic status of Cherokee freedmen and measures it against the livelihoods of emancipated slaves throughout the rest of the former Confederacy:

The Cherokee Nation, located in what is now the northeastern corner of Oklahoma, permitted the enslavement of people of African descent. After joining the Confederacy in 1861, the Cherokee Nation was forced during post-war negotiations to allow its former slaves to claim and improve any unused land in the Nation’s public domain. To examine this unique population of former slaves, I have digitized the entirety of the 1860 Cherokee Nation Slave Schedules and a 60 percent sample of the 1880 Cherokee Census. I find the racial gap in land ownership, farm size, and investment in long-term capital projects [was] smaller in the Cherokee Nation than in the southern United States.

The whole paper (available as a PDF here) is quite interesting. She notes, for example, that the more stable patterns of Cherokee land tenure allowed its freedmen to invest in agricultural projects — like fruit orchards — that were extremely lucrative compared with corn or cotton. More than half of all Cherokee freedmen earned income from fruit cultivation, whereas less than three percent of Southern blacks found themselves in a position to do so.

For a historian, though, the larger question remains whether the results of this “exogamous exogenous variation” among the Cherokee could have been duplicated throughout the rest of the South. I don’t think it could have been. There’s no question that any morally just outcome to the Civil War would have included massive agrarian reform, including the total liquidation of the plantation economy and the redistribution of the region’s land without regard to race or previous condition of servitude. The Southern Homestead Act of 1866 made some effort in this direction and — had it been applied to more than five states, and had it actually hacked apart the viable plantations lands that were largely restored to their previous owners — it might have worked some of the effects that Miller finds among the Cherokee.

But very little decent land was actually conveyed to freedmen and poor whites, and after a decade the law was repealed — offering another piece of evidence to opponents of Reconstruction, who yowled constantly about the foolishness of government action on behalf of the oppressed. By that time, in any case, Northern Republicans and “New South” Democrats — most of whom were former Whigs and racial moderates — had reached an agreement that the reconstruction of the South did not require political, economic and social liberty for blacks. Within a decade, those moderates were forced aside by even more reactionary elements who reintroduced herrenvolk order throughout the South. If emancipated slaves had actually been offered a fair opportunity after the war to own the lands they’d worked for generations, the white reconquest would arguably have been bloodier than it actually turned out to be. That would certainly have been a war worth fighting, but it wasn’t a war that Northern whites were prepared to endorse.

Share with Sociable

Do They Still Believe This Crap?

[ 18 ] December 12, 2007 |

Bush vetoed S-Chip today. Again. As in, for the second time. Why? Well, here’s what White House Spokesperson Dana Perino had to say:

“This Congress failed to send the president legislation that puts children first, and instead they sent for a second time one that would allow adults onto the program, expand to higher incomes, and raise taxes.”

Right. Because a bill that expands to provide healthcare to more children doesn’t put children first? As a law school professor would say, that certainly doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Share with Sociable

Put Your Makeup On, Fix Your Hair Up Pretty…

[ 6 ] December 12, 2007 |

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“We can play some blackjack, go to Morton’s, get a steak. That way the wedding won’t be a total loss!”

Off to beautiful, tasteful Atlantic City for some guy’s bachelor party, and then to D.C. for the Sacred Event. I’ll be around, but blogging will be a touch lights…

Share with Sociable

Women…Wearing Pants!

[ 10 ] December 12, 2007 |

More sexist trivia at the Washington Post. In fairness, the Givhan/Milbank clown show doesn’t just apply to Clinton. Somerby — who also correctly points out “the rule of this upper-class clan: Big Dem women are really men. And Big Dem men are just women,” sums up the Post’s coverage of several candidates:

1. An insipid attempt at psycho-biography, written by one of the world’s dumbest people.
2. A piece called “How He’s Running.” (According to Kornblut, who writes today’s piece, “Edwards is running as ‘the son of a millworker.’”)
3. A piece called “How He Looks” (Robin Givhan).
4. A piece called “How He Talks” (Dana Milbank).

If you love the competence of President Bush, you’ll like this method of evaluating candidates.

Share with Sociable

Uh, I Hate To Tell You This, But…

[ 0 ] December 12, 2007 |

I enjoyed this from the National Review‘s endorsement of Mitt Romney:

Uniting the conservative coalition is not enough to win a presidential election, but it is a prerequisite for building on that coalition. Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country.

Yes, try to imagine a world in which a Republican administration substantially increased government spending, spent spectacular amounts of money to invade a country that posed no threat to the United States, packed the federal courts with statist reactionaries, and repeatedly supported arbitrary executive power. That kind of Republican Party sure would be useless!

Share with Sociable

Sexism Of The Day

[ 5 ] December 12, 2007 |

Apparently those crazy women actually spend money when they’re engaged in corruption, whereas men engaged in corruption mostly just, you know, give the money they skim to starving Albanian orhpans and stuff. No man whole stole taxpayer money would buy, say, a “Rolls-Royce, a yacht and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode.” It makes perfect sense! (Via MY.)

Share with Sociable

Who Cares?

[ 51 ] December 12, 2007 |

Writing about the “is sexual orientation genetic or is it a choice?” pointless dichotomy, M. Leblanc makes a point that isn’t made often enough:

Arguing that things are out of someone’s control, and thus beyond criticism or bigotry, is a seductive tactic because it mirrors the arguments that are used against race discrimination. But the problem is, it’s the wrong metric.

“Choice” or “environment” is the wrong way to determine what reasons are good reasons to hate others. Discriminating against or hating someone for being fat or gay makes you an asshole because there’s nothing wrong with being fat or gay. Not because it’s not a choice.

Right. From a liberal standpoint, the correct answer to the question of whether sexual orientation is voluntary or not is “who the hell cares?” To argue that gays and lesbians “have no choice” or whatever is to implicitly accept the frame of bigots; the underlying assumption seems to be that if people did choose to have sex people of the same gender then legal discrimination would be perfectly acceptable. But such discrimination should be opposed because it’s completely irrational. Whether someone has a strong genetic predisposition towards homosexuality or not shouldn’t affect whether the rights of gays and lesbians are protected.

Share with Sociable

Bill Clinton Faces the Robot Menace

[ 9 ] December 12, 2007 |

Elementary chaos theory predicts that robots will eventually rise up and heckle their masters.

So this is really not surprising:

A University of Iowa professor dressed as a robot interrupted Bill Clinton at a campaign stop here late Monday, screaming for an apology before security escorted him from the building.

The professor, Kembrew McLeod, stood on a chair and screamed several statements, including: “Robots of the world want you to apologize.”

The audience erupted into loud boos.

McLeod, before security officers could reach him, tossed hundreds of cards into the audience of about 400 people in protest of statements the former president made in 1992 of Sister Souljah, a member of the musical group Public Enemy.

“I like to talk in a way that, you know, will draw attention to these serious issues,” McLeod said after the event. “And maybe the way that I draw attention to them is an absurd way but it was the only way that I could draw attention to the particular issue of Sister Souljah, which is an issue that’s been swept under the carpet.”

McCleod’s manifesto makes the uncontroversial observation that Clinton’s attack on Sister Souljah was an episode of bullshit campaign theater intended to draw racist white voters back to the Democratic side of the ledger. Far from being “swept under the carpet,” though, this point has been made about ten thousand times since 1992. And so like Siva, I can’t really fathom the purpose here, especially when there are at least a dozen worthier reasons to pester Clinton. If he’d had turned race-baiting into an everyday preoccupation over the next eight years, we might have an argument. As it turns out, the 1990s were a decidedly mixed bag for African Americans, and Clinton’s record on civil rights — limited in part by six years of reactionary, blow-job obsessed congressional opposition — appears strong only by comparison to the presidents bracketing him. Still, as Siva points out, if Clinton is going to apologize for anything, the Rwandan genocide would be a better place to start.

(Interestingly, I attended college with Kembrew McLeod in the early 1990s. His pranks back then were much more entertaining. The unsuccessful run for student body president, for example, was brilliant….)

Share with Sociable

Are You Serious?

[ 0 ] December 12, 2007 |

So, I was all ready to write a serious post today applauding the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) for making the new, reduced crack sentencing guidelines retroactive. Between this and the Gall/Kimbrough decisions yesterday, it’s been an encouraging week for those of us who care about fairness in the criminal justice system. Serious stuff, indeed.

But then, after 9 hours of studying for my Fed Courts exam, I stumbled upon this gem: Just in time to stuff your daughter’s stocking, WalMart is selling these. In the juniors department.

Right. Who needs credit cards (and the financial independence they presumably stand for) when you’ve got a vagina?

Share with Sociable


[ 3 ] December 11, 2007 |

The good news is that I have accepted offer on a co-op that I fell in love with immediately upon seeing it. The bad news is the immense blizzard of paperwork that is required for the approval process. At any rate, one of the documents required is a brief letter from the bank certifying that I have accounts, for how long, etc. The cost of this service? 30 dollars. I mean, it’s a great racket; what are you going to do, walk away from the purchase? Take your money elsewhere (assuming you can find one that forgoes this level of extortion) and have to deal with changing your direct deposit, lose the advantage of having had stable accounts, etc. ?

See also: the fees required to send out standardized test scores.

Share with Sociable