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Well, It’s A Start…

[ 0 ] July 31, 2008 |

Kate Klonick notes that the ayes have it:

The House Judiciary Committee has just voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt for failing to respond to a subpoena to face questioning from the Committee on the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The final vote was 20 ayes and 14 nays. With Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) voting “absolutely, 100% aye.”

Rejecting the ad hoc legal doctrine of “absolute immunity” would seem to be the minimum the Committee can do, but it’s an advance from nothing…

More on the bogus Siegelman prosecution here and here.

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[ 6 ] July 31, 2008 |

I, for one, hope McCain takes this advice

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Triumph of the Race-Baiters

[ 21 ] July 31, 2008 |

The new McCain ad is indeed remarkably disgusting.

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It is a very detestable, grotesque argument that has never been made with so little evidence or reason.

[ 0 ] July 31, 2008 |

I don’t have much to add to this appropriately purple reaction to Herr Pantload’s latest trip to the Diaper Genie. I will, however, draw attention to Goldberg’s atrocious implication that John Carlos and Tommie Smith are somehow responsible for the massacre of Israeli wrestlers and their coaches at the ’72 Munich Games:

China is using the Olympics to paper over the brutality of its repressive regime, just as Hitler did in 1936. In 1972, Palestinian terrorists — grateful for 1968’s lesson in the propaganda value of Olympics media attention — slaughtered Israeli athletes. Nations are political entities, so you can’t take the politics out of national rivalries.

And you can’t take the doughnuts out of Jonah Goldberg’s hands, lest he jam them back into his pants again.

But seriously. That just might be the most abject stream of fuckuppery ever to appear under the Doughboy’s byline.

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Libertarians: Sometimes Right

[ 32 ] July 31, 2008 |

To push the points made by Matt further, [update: and to disagree with Ezra], I have to say that libertarians are right about regulations banning further fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles. First of all, I object to the ends of the legislation, because I don’t think for the most part it’s the job of government to make basic health/pleasure tradeoffs involving food for its citizens. This isn’t to say that I’m a strict libertarian. I have no objection at all to NYC-type regulations requiring restaurants to inform customers about the nutritional content of their food: allowing customers to make informed choices is a necessary and desirable function of the state (and I would think that even a sophisticated libertarian should see these regulations as acceptable.) I also support the recent bans on trans fat bans in New York and L.A. because they represent a substantial benefit for public health while having a trivial effect on consumer choice (indeed, in most cases using alternative fats will make food not only healthier but better.) But these goals are going to far; I don’t think suppressing the market for fast food like this makes much sense.

But even if I thought that the end was a legitimate function of government, as Ezra says there’s the additional problem that it’s not clear if the policy has any chance of accomplishing its ends. It would be nice if a lot of Burger Kings and Carl’s Jrs. got replaced by cheap, high-quality, low-margin grocery stores, and it would also be nice if I had points on The Dark Knight‘s gross, and the policy in question is equally as likely to accomplish both. And there’s no magical health or even taste advantages that derive from having sitdown service; I’d rather have a Wendy’s near me than an Applebee’s or Denny’s. Suppressing one type of business in the hope that a better one will spring up in its place is not a plan, and the food policies that encourage fast food chains over good indpenedent restaurants and good food stores need to be addressed at the federal level.

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Manny Being Marlin

[ 6 ] July 31, 2008 |

Whoa–this would be something if it happens. My initial impulse was to say that this is making Boston’s season look all the more 2005ish, but it’s not that bad. It helps the Red Sox in the future because Ramirez was pretty clearly gone after this year anyway, and when you factor in defense Bay’s probably not actually much worse. A lot depends on Bay’s defense, which his hard to read; his numbers are all over the place. If he does the job in the field, it could work out well even this year.

It’s also an interesting move by Florida, who seem to be doubling down: having an good offensive team with poor defense, they’ve added…a world-class hitting butcher. Their lineup becomes pretty fierce, although Manny playing a left field of that size is pretty frightening.

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Political Culture, or Feckless Political Elite?

[ 28 ] July 31, 2008 |

Houston has a problem:

Houston recycles just 2.6 percent of its total waste [30th among the 30 largest American cities], according to a study this year by Waste News, a trade magazine. By comparison, San Francisco and New York recycle 69 percent and 34 percent of their waste respectively. Moreover, 25,000 Houston residents have been waiting as long as 10 years to get recycling bins from the city.


“We have an independent streak that rebels against mandates or anything that seems trendy or hyped up,” said Mayor Bill White, who favors expanding the city’s recycling efforts. “Houstonians are skeptical of anything that appears to be oversold or exaggerated. But Houstonians can change, and change fast.”

Ooh, an independent streak! But wait…

Even largely blue-collar Milwaukee and the rival Texas metropolis of Dallas, both with larger recycling budgets and smaller populations, have significantly higher recycling rates than Houston.

Dallas’ rate is roughly five times that of Houston. I guess the people of Dallas-Fort Worth don’t have an independent streak.

But city officials say the biggest barrier to recycling in Houston is cheap landfill fees. It only costs $32 to dispose of a ton of waste here, compared with $70 in the Northeast, according to the National Solid Wastes Management Association’s latest survey, in 2005.

Some reject that argument, however, citing other cities with even lower landfill fees.

“Blaming landfills is a completely flawed argument, old-fashioned thinking that is really just laziness,” said Eric Lombardi, the director of Ecocycle, the nation’s largest nonprofit recycler, in Boulder, Colo.

Mr. Lombardi’s operation claims a 60 percent recycling rate, despite landfill fees of $15 a ton — less than half of Houston’s costs. With commodity prices at a record high, he said, if recycling can be profitable “in my landlocked state without easy access to buyers like China, then it can be profitable anywhere.”

What we seem to have here is a city political class that’s unwilling to make the effort to make the case for recycling. This political class would appear to be using political culture (“we rebel against anything trendy or hyped up”) as an excuse not to invest more in the infrastructure necessary to maintain a recycling program. It doesn’t help, of course, that the state of Texas seems utterly uninterested in pushing Houston to do anything useful. Here’s a critical line:

About 25,000 households are on the waiting list for the bins, but the city says it cannot afford more bins. Those without the special bins must cart their recyclable garbage to one of just nine full-service drop-off depots in the city.

Right. The problem isn’t that 7% of the city’s households are being denied recycling bins because of lack of funding; instead, it’s all about the independent streak. Makes it seem more democratic if you put it that way.

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Hurlburt-Farley Death Match

[ 1 ] July 31, 2008 |

Heather Hurlburt and I have an entirely-too-cordial discussion at Bloggingheads…

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[ 27 ] July 30, 2008 |

Detroit media outlets reporting Yankees have acquired Ivan Rodriguez. No word on what the Tigers got.

While obviously not close to the player he was in his prime, IRod is an exactly average AL hitter at this point, which makes him a better than average hitter for a catcher. Even though his defensive skills have deteriorated quite a bit from their once unparalleled height, he’s still a much better gloveman than Posada.

Hopefully Dave Dombrowski pried away a couple of good prospects, and this isn’t a salary dump (doesn’t seem likely as he’s a free agent at the end of the season).

BTW Rodriguez is only about 90 games away from the all-time MLB record for games caught.

Update: Sweet Jebus, apparently it’s a straight-up deal for Kyle Farnsworth. I’m a big fan of Dombrowski but if that’s accurate that’s ridiculous.

Further update: Just remembered that if anybody signs him as a free agent after this season the team that loses him gets two compensatory draft picks between the first and second round. So it looks like Detroit traded two months of IRod for Kyle Farnsworth and a couple of late first/early second round picks. I know Farnsworth has been decent this year but come on . . .

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Obama’s Mythical "Woman Problem"

[ 10 ] July 30, 2008 |

Shorter Carol Marin: “Data is the plural of anecdote! And arbitrary subdivisions of broader classes — even Dick Morris can see the logic of that!”

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Hands around a white man’s throat

[ 18 ] July 30, 2008 |

I suppose you’d have to be one of the more deliberately uninformed assholes on the planet — which is to say, you’d have to be Dan Riehl — to make this sort of argument:

The first “American” slaves weren’t black, they were white and usually from Europe. Shouldn’t we be given special credit for being first and all that?

Also, it was in large part a system of laws and government, otherwise known as Western Civilization, established in Europe that was most likely the primary reason why there weren’t even more European slaves brought to America. The societies there were somewhat able to protect their own. Logically, then, isn’t it ultimately the fault of an under-civilized tribal system which could not protect its own that is a key reason for why traders in men and women turned to another continent for more “product?” It was simply easier to be had, particularly, and often with the cooperation of competing tribes. In that sense, it would seem to me that the black descendants of slaves in America should really be thinking about apologizing to themselves.

Remarkable. I’m not sure what’s more obnoxious (or predictable) here: the overused cliche that Africans are to blame for the labor system that ensnared them; the ahistorical confusion of slavery with convict and orphan labor redemptioners and indentured servants; or the amnesia that allows one to forget that the first conscripted laborers in the Western Hemisphere were the people who happened to be living there when Europeans arrived. But I suppose that’s what makes Reihl such a special presence in the conservative blogosphere. Unlike your average wingnut, he’s not satisfied with merely one inane argument against the greatest act of white racial treachery since the Harper’s Ferry raid a meaningless Congressional apology for slavery and Jim Crow; instead, he offers a cornucopia of dumb.

That’s the sort of fortitude his kidnapped orphan great(x7)-grandfather must have needed to endure all those cold nights sleeping in a Pennsylvania hog pen.

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Fall Woman

[ 0 ] July 30, 2008 |

I agree with Turley and Bazelon that it will be pathetic if Monica Goodling ends up taking all of the responsibility for the frequently illegal cronyism and ineptitude at the DOJ. It’s a nice scam they have going: immunize the subordinate so she can discuss illegal reactions without risk, while expecting that nothing she reveals will be used to go after her superiors. I wish I could say that it wouldn’t work, but…

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