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Feminism Stole My Car Keys!

[ 0 ] December 11, 2008 |

Public health scare edition.

Exciting Canadian Blogging: The Good and Bad Iggy

[ 0 ] December 11, 2008 |


I had only been to MSG once before, so it was very nice last weekend to see the Flames somehow eke out a victory despite barely leaving their own zone in the second period thoroughly dominate the hopelessly overmatched Rangers. After such an abect humilation you go to the box and you feel shame. I think Berube forgetting his jersey was entirely responsible for the outcome, although it must be conceded that he was vastly superior in the post-game ad hoc darts contest.

On the other hand, I was disappointed to see that Canada’s bad Iggy, a charter Wanker Caucus member, has effectively handed the Liberal leadership. I’m not looking forward to this, and this doesn’t really seem like a good strategic move, but who knows, maybe he’s learned something. I guess this is low-risk-low-reward for the Liberals; Ignatieff seems more likely to stop a Conservative majority than Rae, but also seems less likely to stop Liberal bleeding to the NDP and Greens. Which I guess could be a decent outcome.

A Little More Prohibition Will Put Out That Fire!

[ 0 ] December 11, 2008 |

The War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs continues its roaring success:

Killings linked to Mexico’s drug war have more than doubled this year compared with 2007 and are likely to grow even further before they begin to fall, Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora said Monday.

The prosecutor tied the sharp increase in deaths to a battle for control among cartels and a power vacuum created by a series of high-profile arrests and seizures.

The number of gangland killings reached 5,376 from the beginning of the year until Dec. 2, a 117 percent increase over the 2,477 killings in the same period in 2007, Mr. Medina-Mora said in a luncheon meeting with foreign correspondents.

The bulk of the killings have occurred in the border states of Chihuahua and Baja California, where traffickers have sought to wipe out rivals on the streets of Juárez and Tijuana, and in Sinaloa, where one of the country’s most powerful cartels has its base.

“These criminal organizations don’t have limits,” said Mr. Medina-Mora, who previously served as Mexico’s public safety director and spy chief. “They certainly have an enormous power of intimidation.”

Mission accomplished! In fairness, it must be said that this violence is trivial compared to the turf wars between Busch and Coors…

5 Provosts in 7 Years?

[ 0 ] December 11, 2008 |

Leaving aside his wanktastic politics, one thing that was never clear to me was exactly what credentials Bob Kerrey had to run a university. I know fundraising is very important to a modern university president, but…

More at the COHE.

Too much stupid for just one fork

[ 0 ] December 10, 2008 |

The Most Inane Punditry of 2008.

I’m glad to say I’d never even heard of some of these items. For example:

“Well, here’s the other thing that we saw on the tape, Chris, is that, when Obama went in, he was offered coffee, and he said, ‘I’ll have orange juice.’ ” Matthews replied, “No,” to which Shuster responded: “He did.” Shuster continued: “And it’s just one of those sort of weird things. You know, when the owner of the diner says, ‘Here, have some coffee,’ you say, ‘Yes, thank you,’ and, ‘Oh, can I also please have some orange juice, in addition to this?’ You don’t just say, ‘No, I’ll take orange juice,’ and then turn away and start shaking hands.”

Duly noted! You know, without wealthy television pundits to instruct us, we’d probably spend most of our time slitting each others’ throats over the finer breaches of Regular Guy Etiquette.

Not a hard decision at all, actually

[ 0 ] December 10, 2008 |

If Ben Wittes is indeed serving as an adviser to the Obama transition team, let’s hope the President-elect has the good sense not to listen to anything he has to say.

That Wittes would invoke Qahtani in support of his proposal for expanded detention authority is, in a word, astonishing. Qahtani — who U.S. officials believe may have been the intended “20th hijacker” — was subjected to perhaps the most meticulous and brutal torture protocol of any Guantánamo detainee: his “interrogation logs” for a 50-day period in 2002 and 2003, leaked to and published by Time magazine, make for harrowing reading. Qahtani was strapped down, injected with fluids, and forced to urinate on himself; he was subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation, often woken in the middle of the night by dripping water or blaring pop music; his head and beard were forcibly shaved; he was left naked in a frigid room and forced to stand for prolonged periods; he was sexually humiliated by female interrogators; he was menaced by dogs and was himself led around on a leash and forced to bark like one.

So far as Wittes is concerned, the Obama administration faces a “hard decision” about whether to maintain Bush administration policies regarding indefinite detention, military commissions, and coerced interrogations. (By this logic, I suppose Obama faces “hard decisions” as well about whether to maintain the Bush administration’s disastrous environmental policies; after all, it’s going to be very difficult to halt the approval of new oil and gas drilling sites, or to propose new fuel economy standards, or to keep mining companies from polluting the water, or to strengthen rules regarding the reporting of toxic industrial emissions, etc., etc.) For ordinary people, ejecting the Bush record is not a difficult decision at all. Of course, ordinary people probably wouldn’t argue that Bush v. Gore carries greater legitimacy than Roe v. Wade, either.

Jaffer and Wizner make an exceedingly sane case that the only “difficult” question is whether hand-wringers like Wittes and Jack Goldsmith will ever perceive the abomination of developing a new carceral system that essentially rewards the Bush administration for violating the law. It’s obvious, of course, that Bush will leave behind a vast, wrecked landscape when they leave office next month; cleaning it all up will take a generation of labor, but there’s no need to begin the effort by essentially ratifying a legal disgrace exceeded in the nation’s history only by the policy of Indian removal and the Japanese-American internment.

F-22 as Economic Stimulus?

[ 0 ] December 10, 2008 |

Is the F-22 Raptor too big to fail in these tough economic times?

Without further spending for the F-22, companies that supply critical components for it would begin shutting down soon. The chairmen and ranking Republicans on both the House and Senate defense appropriations subcommittees recently wrote to Mr. Gates to voice their support for the F-22, cautioning that “the last thing our nation needs is to terminate jobs in this time of such economic uncertainty.”

Like many big weapons systems, the plane, which relies on 1,000 parts suppliers in 44 states, has strong support in Congress, which recently provided up to $140 million in bridge financing for some of the suppliers.

Without having done the analysis, I’m guessing that spending $200 million each for F-22s is not the most cost-effective form of economic stimulus that the Obama administration can engage in. Robert Gates hostility to the F-22 (and the Air Force more generally) is one of his most appealing characteristics; it would be a pity if Congress critters can use the financial crisis as an excuse to save the over-priced, under-missioned fighter aircraft.

More Double Standard Puzzles

[ 0 ] December 10, 2008 |

This K-Drum post encapsulates much about what I find strange about the way some liberals have been discussing the American auto industry. First of all, is there any other context in which progressives would uncritically use the conserveratrian formulation “wage problem”? Am I supposed to be cheering for Wal-Mart to crush Costco because of the latter’s “wage problem” while shopping at the former besides? When he watches American Dream, does Kevin cheer for the Hormel executives? Call me crazy, but I’m inclined to think of the generous wages and benefits accorded to their workers is a point in Detroit’s favor. (And if you think that wages at non-union American factories will remain at their current level if Detroit stops competing for labor, I have some beautiful condos in Flint to sell you.)

Similarly, I don’t really know on what basis Kevin and Leonhardt assume that it’s impossible for GM, in particular, to be a viable company after a bailout. (Chrysler, I’ll grant, is a tougher case.) GM has several lines of cars that are of both good quality and with at least decent consumer demand — Chevy sedans, trucks and SUVS and Cadillac most notably. If it can develop a decent compact like it redesigned the Malibu — which hardly seems impossible — that seems like a perfectly viable operation to me. Of course, GM needs to ditch Pontiac/Saturn and/or turn them into small divisions producing cars for rental fleets. But this is precisely what justifies a bailout — closing down product lines is enormously expensive, and this restructuting will require cash. Similarly, in the long term it would be good for Detroit to produce more small-margin compacts and fewer high-margin SUVs…but again, if you run out of cash while effecting the transition this is hollow advice.

The devil is in the details, of course. But Ford and GM, at least, are producing some quality cars that people in fact are buying, and it’s by no means obvious that they can’t be profitable companies after the Bush Depression turns around. Given the stakes involved for the American economy and American labor, government money that permits product line consolidation and development with longer time horizons certainly seems like a good gamble to me. And if Chrysler has to be carried along to ensure that suppliers don’t crater while the economy is awful, I can live with that. If they develop something to go along with their minivans and trucks they could have some value in a merger, if not let them die when the consequences are less dire.

Gangster: The Rod Blagojevich Story

[ 0 ] December 9, 2008 |

Spencer:

Is it wrong to have, on some level, respect for just how gangster Rod Blagojevich is?

Yes; yes it is. But I nonetheless have some respect for just how gangster Rod Blagojevich is. Thoughts on who’ll play him in the movie?

…and if you’re wondering whether Blagojevich could still appoint himself to the Senate seat, the answer is that no one seems to know.

Crew of the MV Faina Getting Twitchy

[ 0 ] December 9, 2008 |

It’s not nice to hold people hostage for two and a half months:

“Some crew members on the Ukrainian ship are misbehaving,” the pirate said.

“They tried to harm two of our gunmen late Monday. This is unacceptable, they risk serious punitive measures. Somalis know how to live and how to die at the same time, but the Ukrainians’ attempt to take violent action is misguided.”

He claimed that two of the pirates were taken by surprise when a group of crew members attacked them. “Maybe some of the crew are frustrated and we are feeling the same but our boys never opted for violence, this was a provocation,” he told AFP by telephone.

Another report of the incident, by Russian Ren TV, quoted one of the pirates as saying that the crew responsible would be “seriously punished”.

See also James Wimberley’s thoughts on piracy.

The Detroit Bailout

[ 0 ] December 9, 2008 |

Marcy Wheeler has the details on the bridge loan plan. I like the Atrios and (especially) Pelosi amendments, the latter of which is certainly essential.

I also agree with Wheeler about the double standards in coverage. Citigroup has gone back for much more money with much less oversight, but this seems to get considerably less scrutiny from the media and (especially) Congress. But, of course, getting rid of those greedy union workers with their “middle class wages” and “apocryphal gold-plated benefits” and making sure any remaining jobs go to companies whose sales are taking a similar hit but employ people in reactionary right-to-work states is just the Natural Order of the Free Market. (BTW, have any of the banks bailed out by the government had to give up their corporate jets?)

Brazen…

[ 0 ] December 9, 2008 |

Does Blagojevich think he’s Vladimir Putin?

Authorities say they’ve also accused Blagojevich of threatening to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Co. in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of editorial board members who have been critical of the governor.

A federal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the allegations include that the governor took money from at least one individual in connection with naming a successor for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama. The official declined to be named publicly because the investigation was still under way.

Hey; it’s not like anyone was paying attention to the junior Senate seat in Illinois.