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Deranged Conservatives

[ 32 ] January 18, 2008 |

For all the talk of “Bush Derangement Syndrome” promoted by various clowns, note that Democrats and Republicans both see Bush as the staunch conservative that he is, while Republicans put Hillary Clinton substantially to the left of Noam Chomsky while sane people properly place her on the moderate left. And her killing of Vince Foster makes her the quintessential liberal fascist…

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Worst American Birthdays, vol. 38

[ 7 ] January 18, 2008 |

Before there were the Worst American Birthdays, there was Forgotten American Bastard Blogging, which established the standard for the genre. A little more than a year ago, Erik offered some thoughts on Sam Zemurray that are worth recalling on what would be the banana kingpin’s 131st birthday.

Working closely with Guatemalan dictator Jorge Ubico, Zemurray and [the United Fruit Company] destroyed labor unions, gained signficant land concessions, and increasingly worked the CIA to undermine any smidgen of opposition to the Ubico regime. Ubico had been installed by the US in 1930 and in fact, for most Guatemalans, United Fruit and the United States were the same thing. A 1934 uncovered coup plot allowed Ubico to militarize his regime, something fully supported by Zemurray, United, and the Roosevelt administration. Zemurray worked closely with the powerful businessman John Foster Dulles, later Secretary of State under Dwight Eisenhower, to gain ever more lucrative contracts and create ties to the US government in case things went sour in Central America.

The US demand for bananas, which soon became one of the cheapest fruits on the market, also spawned widespread environmental destruction. Millions of acres of native jungle were destroyed to provide for bananas, decimating wildlife populations. The monocultures that replaced the jungle became susceptible to diseases such as Panama disease and Sigatoka disease. Today, much of that original Cuyamel and United land cannot support bananas. When I traveled on the North Coast of Honduras a few years ago, I saw miles and miles of palm oil plantations where jungle and then bananas once grew. In addition, nasty chemicals were used to fight off Sigatoka, exposing workers, animals, and water supplies to chemical pollution.

Inspiring legacy.

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Liberal Fascism Stalinism

[ 27 ] January 18, 2008 |

Roger beat me to it, but I see that Lee Siegel’s book — which figures to have the intellectual merits of Jonah Goldberg’s but with much less revenue for the publisher — is finally out!

The vindictiveness and disproportionate influence of the blogosphere is a particularly sore subject. Who is it that “rewrote history, made anonymous accusations, hired and elevated hacks and phonies, ruined reputations at will, and airbrushed suddenly unwanted associates out of documents and photographs”? Mr. Siegel’s immediate answer is Stalin. But he alleges that the new power players of the blogosphere have appropriated similar powers.

The thing is, my guess is that he really thinks that making fun of people’s silly arguments on the intarweb is like the Gulag (or Auschwitz), especially if he’s the justified target of derision.

Maslin’s review, meanwhile, is another manifestation of a fairly positive review describing an unreadable book whose arguments are apparently either trite or transparently ridiculous. Maslin does have seem to have some awareness of the amount of projection involved, although she soft-pedals it. Obviously, if you personally use the web to do things like accuse people of being pedophiles with no evidence and use a sockpuppet to reveal yourself as a big fan of yourself you have a strong interest in attributing your actions to some homogeneous “internet culture,” but this really isn’t much of an argument.

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Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008

[ 23 ] January 18, 2008 |

R.I.P. I strongly recommend this grimly fascinating article about him.

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Against Outside Agitators, For Huckabee!

[ 8 ] January 18, 2008 |

As a follow-up to d Farley, I see that a “pro-heritage” group has placed ads in favor of Huckabee and against McCain and Romney. (The former can’t be happy; you flip-flop on the acceptability of the state displaying swastikas Confederate flags to straight-talkingly pander to morons and you can’t get any credit!) In fairness, I think Yglesias is being a little reductive about this unbroken tradition dating all the way back to 1962. Really, the flag is just as much a symbol of lawlessness in defense of apartheid as treason in defense of slavery.

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Treason In Defense of Biblically Ordained Flagpole Ramming

[ 34 ] January 18, 2008 |

It’s always refreshing when a Republican candidate embraces neo-confederatism. Reaffirms my faith in the Party of Lincoln. Huck:

“You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag,” Mr. Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, told supporters in Myrtle Beach, according to The Associated Press.

“In fact,” he said, “if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole; that’s what we’d do.”

Huh. Is it just me, or is Huck suggesting that a flagpole should be rammed up the ass of some do-gooder Northerners? I have to wonder, is ramming a flagpole up someone’s ass in accordance with biblical teachings? What if it’s done for fun, and not for punishment?

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[ 1 ] January 18, 2008 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Starbuck and Nelson

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Go Blazers?

[ 0 ] January 18, 2008 |

Should I start caring about the NBA again? I heard some rumor that the Blazers might move to Seattle if the Sonics move to Oklahoma City. I suppose that I should cheer for them a bit before that happens, if only so I can build up a good head of outrage and curse the NBA for all of time…

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Barbara Jordan

[ 4 ] January 18, 2008 |

Forgotten American blogging returns.

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So Why No Fortune at Japanese Restaurants?

[ 0 ] January 18, 2008 |

It seems that the fortune cookie originated in late 19th century Japan:

There is one place where fortune cookies are conspicuously absent: China.

Now a researcher in Japan believes she can explain the disconnect, which has long perplexed American tourists in China. Fortune cookies, Yasuko Nakamachi says, are almost certainly originally from Japan.

Her prime pieces of evidence are the generations-old small family bakeries making obscure fortune cookie-shaped crackers by hand near a temple outside Kyoto. She has also turned up many references to the cookies in Japanese literature and history, including an 1878 image of a man making them in a bakery – decades before the first reports of American fortune cookies.

The idea that fortune cookies come from Japan is counterintuitive, to say the least. “I am surprised,” said Derrick Wong, the vice president of the largest fortune cookie manufacturer in the world, Wonton Food, based in Brooklyn. “People see it and think of it as a Chinese food dessert, not a Japanese food dessert,” he said.

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Listen Here, Harvard Boy…

[ 30 ] January 17, 2008 |

I trust that Yglesias is employing what the kids these days call “sarcasm”

For instance, assaults increase by about 9% when a community hosts a college football game, vandalism increases by about 18%, and DUIs increase by about 13%. We also find evidence that upsets result in larger increases in crime than games that do not produce an upset. For instance, an upset loss at home is associated with a 112% increase in assaults and a 61% increase in vandalism. We discuss these results in the context of psychological theories of fan aggression.

Strange but, it seems, true.

…although you can never be sure with these Ivy League types. Anyway, the study falls firmly within a category I call “establishing the banal in a methodologically rigorous fashion”, which seems to constitute about 85% of basic social science research.

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For Kids, Life Means Life

[ 25 ] January 17, 2008 |

Sentencing youthful offenders (that’s kids who are convicted for crimes) to life incarceration violates virtually every human rights norm out there. According to Human Rights Watch, there are only 7 people outside the United States who were sentenced to life in prison while minors.

Wanna guess how many kids are currently locked up for life in California alone?

227. In one single solitary state.

For the U.S. as a whole, the number of people serving life without parole for offenses committed as minors is 2,225. According to an editorial in yesterday’s LA Times (which is, I think, far surpassing its rival the NYT in terms of quality of opinion page content), not only have these kids received lifetime sentences for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 17, but they were also sentenced without the possibility of parole. Which means there is absolutely zero possibility that theyw ill leave prison alive.

As should not be surprising given the US’s record of human rights violations through incarceration (and given the numbers quoted at the top of this post), we are an outlier on this issue. Waaaaaay outlier.

And it’s yet further proof that the idea of prison as rehabilitation remains a cruel joke.

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