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"It was a nationwide, televised, MSM version of one of those noxious Obama smear emails."

[ 12 ] February 27, 2008 |

Russert is a disgrace. (See also here, here, and here.) It seems to be that Obama handled the ridiculous questions about as well as could be expected.

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Emphasize Law , Not Morality

[ 16 ] February 27, 2008 |

Various bloggers have reacted negatively to Amy Sullivan’s claim that her support of legal abortion can’t be labeled “pro-choice” because she believes that abortion is morally problematic. Kevin Drum defends Sullivan, arguing that it’s entirely possible for a good pro-choicer to acknowledge the moral complexity of abortion. And this is true as far as it goes; it’s certainly possible for a pro-choicer to acknowledge that people disagree about the morality of abortion and then go on to explain why bans on abortion are a bad idea no matter what your position on abortion is.

The problem that I and other people have, though, is that for the most part Sullivan and Saletan don’t actually do this. Their arguments about abortion emphasize moral agreements with anti-choicers, not legal disagreements. Sullivan claiming that she can’t be described as pro-choice implies that pro-choicers can’t disagree about the morality of abortion, and of course asserting that everyone has to acknowledge that abortion is icky is central to Saletan’s shtick. And while Obama goes on in the speech cited by Kevin to argue that everyone can agree that it’s good to lower abortion rates but that we need “family planning and education for our young people,” Sullivan has argued that such policies represent “standing up to” pro-choicers whose goal is allegedly to maximize abortion rates per se.

Good coalition-building on reproductive freedom would consist of emphasizing agreement (the stupidities and inequities of using inevitably arbitrary state coercion to force women to bring pregnancies to term, the greater effectiveness of the broad panoply of pro-choice policies in reducing abortion rates by reducing unwanted pregnancies) and de-emphasizing moral conflicts. People object to Sullivan and Saletan because they emphasize the latter rather than the former — and especially in Saletan’s case, in fact denying that abortion is morally complex but that people who don’t share his moral views are simply wrong — and argue almost exclusively on the political terrain favored by anti-choicers. Creating conflicts where no necessary ones exist — like writing yourself out of the pro-choice movement because you think there are moral problems with abortion — is coalition-fracturing. Acknowledging that many people find abortion immoral can be the start of a pro-choice argument, but it can’t be the end of one.

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Worst American Birthdays, vol. 42

[ 48 ] February 27, 2008 |


Ralph Nader turns 74 today. After enjoying a breakfast of whole grain toast and Postum, the Green Party’s 2000 presidential candidate will receive his customary birthday tug job from Dick Cheney.

On Ralph Nader’s 67th birthday in 2001, George W. Bush told an audience in Charlotte, North carolina that

[a]nother reason I feel confident in our ability to accomplish some important missions for the country is, I’ve assembled a great team. For those of you who have ever run a company or run an organization, you understand what I’m about to say – that you’re only as good as your team. And my national security team is strong and capable and experienced, and so is my domestic policy team.

The next year, George W. Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer explained to a temporarily combative White House press corps that

the United Nations Security Council called for, in November, full, complete and immediate disarmament. It did not say, stretch it out, delay it and only after you’re under pressure should you say you’re going to destroy a missile that you once claimed you never had and you still say doesn’t even violate the United Nations. And that’s the problem with the Saddam Hussein. Every time he’s under pressure he tries to relieve the pressure by disarming just a touch, just a little; playing the game, playing the deception.

And the’s why, as I said to you, when you sum up what Iraq is, and you sum up the actions they take, the Iraqi actions are propaganda, wrapped in a lie, inside a falsehood.

On the 69th anniversary of Ralph Nader’s birth, George W. Bush welcomed German chancellor Gerhard Shroeder to the White House. In post-meeting remarks with the press, the President opined — quite heterosexually — that

marriage has served society well, and I believe it is important to affirm that, that marriage between a man and a woman is the ideal. And the job of the President is to drive policy toward the ideal. This is a sensitive debate, and it is important that people hold true to their beliefs without condemning anybody else. And so therefore, I call upon all sides in the debate to conduct themselves with dignity and honor and respect. But this is a debate that the Nation must have. And the people’s voice must be heard in the debate.

Two years later, on Nader’s 72nd birthday, a reporter asked Bush’s press secretary Scott McClellan about the President’s opinion of a new South Dakota law that banned abortion in nearly all cases including rape and incest. McClellan assured the press corps that

The President believes we ought to be working to build a culture of life in America. And we have taken practical, common-sense steps to help reduce the number of abortions in America. It is a strong record that is based on building a culture of life, and the President has made very clear that he is pro-life with three exceptions [rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at risk].

Which is so totally what Al Gore would have said.

(Condolences to LGM reader Spencer, who apparently shares his special day with Mr. Nader but who will not — we assume, at least — be receiving a social call from the Vice President.)

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How Sadly Appropriate

[ 13 ] February 27, 2008 |

It seems right that Chris Muir would have his half-undressed fantasy object cite the punchline of a sexist ad campaign for a crappy frat boy malt beverage. Ah, the intertwining layers of brain-dead sexism!

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"The Fig Leaf to Go Racist"

[ 0 ] February 26, 2008 |

Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow take on “Flag Pin-gate” and the ever-more-despicable far right.

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"Chocolate bunny democrats"

[ 0 ] February 26, 2008 |

If I fathom his intent correctly, Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Yankee is spending some time today defending JFK’s inaugural address from the efforts of John Edwards and SEIU and Sam Giancana and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and J. Edgar Hoover and . . . and . . . and there’s something in there about lacking honor and substance . . . um . . . I think he’s saying that the next president needs to send military advisers to South Vietnam or something. And invade Cuba.

Okay, I really don’t know what the fuck he’s doing, but in the course of doing it, he submits what I believe is one of the greatest wingnut metaphors since “dhimmicrat” emerged from the freeper ooze a few years back.

These chocolate bunny Democrats — sugary and smooth on the surface, melting under the slightest heat and pressure to expose a void inside — will spend this money trying convince Americans that we are not noble, that we are selfish, shallow, weak and untrustworthy, and that we should turn our backs on Kennedy’s famous pledge:
…that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Not to pluck a used harp, but it bears mentioning that a guy whose masthead announces his his “Confederate” identity would have been happy to see Kennedy’s brains scattered across the back of a limousine. For as weak as Kennedy was on civil rights up to the last few months of his life, he did send federal troops in 1961 to Oxford, Mississippi, where James Meredith was attempting to enroll at Ole Miss — an decision that whites decried as “genocidal” and compared to the Soviet crackdown in Hungary. And while Kennedy allowed Alabama klansmen to beat the shit out of Freedom Riders earlier that same year, he reached a deal with Sen. James Eastland that prevented Mississippi klansmen from beating the shit out of Freedom Riders a few days later. Which is just the sort of thing that liberals like Hitler or Krushchev would have done.

That said, here are some of the various candies Bob Owens rejected as insufficiently metaphoric:



As for myself, I’m more of a “Reggie Bar Democrat.”

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The Tampon Police

[ 0 ] February 26, 2008 |

Mike Huckabee (who, yes, is apparently still in the presidential race) today endorsed the Colorado “Human Life Amendment,” which would recognize human life in Colorado from “the moment of conception.” From the Denver Post:

“With this amendment, Colorado has an opportunity to send a clear message that every human life has value,” Huckabee said. “Passing this amendment will mean the people of Colorado will protect the sanctity of life from conception until natural death occurs.”

What I want to know, and what Echidne is asking too, is whether this means that women’s tampons and sanitary pads are forensic evidence, to be picked apart each month to see whether a “person” has died. I mean, given that about half (if not more) of fertilized eggs do not implant and are sloughed off each month with a woman’s menstrual period, it would stand to reason that a woman is each month expelling human remains. And not her own.

Also interesting that Huckabee (and other supporters of the Amendment) frame the Amendment as protecting “every human life.” Every human life, that is, except women’s.

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Haven’t Picked On Jeter Lately…

[ 0 ] February 26, 2008 |

A bit late to the party, but this was St. Derek’s response upon learning of the 449th different system of evaluating shortstop fielding prowess to characterize him as a terrible defensive shortstop:

“Maybe it was a computer glitch,” the three-time Gold Glove winner said of the report. But Jeter just didn’t laugh this one off. He defended himself, saying, “Every [shortstop] doesn’t stay in the same spot, everyone doesn’t have the same pitching. Everyone doesn’t have the same hitters running, it’s impossible to do that.”

Jeter, 33, pointed out you can get the exact same ground ball off the exact same pitcher and there could be an average runner or there could be Ichiro running. “How can you compute that?” he asked.

To take these in reverse order, you of course can compute the effect of pitching staff, park, and opposition on fielding; most every modern system does this.

On the positioning, let me outsource to Dan Fox:

None of the systems take into account the starting position of the fielder on individual plays, and so are making an assumption that over the large number of observations—a shortstop would be expected to field somewhere between 350 and 425 balls a year—positioning evens out. That said, the systems also assume (not unfairly in my view) that positioning is a part of what being a good defender is all about. So, if a fielder is claiming that his positioning is making him look bad defensively, which boils down to his not making as many outs in the field as he should, thereby costing his team runs and wins, it’s incumbent upon him to change whatever failed strategy is being employed.

Another way of saying this is “Derek, if you’re standing in the wrong place, you should move.”

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Democracy! Whiskey! Misogyny!

[ 11 ] February 26, 2008 |

Why, it’s almost as if the talk of liberating Afghani women was a cynical pretext abandoned as soon as they had another shiny new Islamist quasi-state to install!

I’m afraid that if Christina Hoff Sommers hasn’t written at least three books on the subject by the end of the year I’m going to have to continue not taking her seriously.

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Faux News…or Fox Porn?

[ 27 ] February 26, 2008 |

Via Feminist Law Profs comes this interesting website/advertisement for “Outfoxed,” a documentary about how Fox News is dragging down the entire television medium. The website “Fox News Porn” exposes how Fox News consistently relies on images of scantily clad and gyrating women to titillate its conservative audience (puns intended). All of the images on the faux site were actually broadcast on Fox News.

The segments (which you can view on Outfoxed’s really well done (and provocative) site) Fox News Porn are particularly surprising (at least to me, since I never — ever — stop flipping the channels at Faux News) in light of O’Reilly’s near-constant screeds about moral values and the decline of the American social fabric. Nice to know that Murdoch’s empire is putting its money where its mouth is.

Taylor Marsh at HuffPo has more.

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Today In Aesthetic Stalinism

[ 8 ] February 26, 2008 |

Shorter Verbatim stooge at Veritas Libertas — Conservative Thought (sic) About Film (sic): “You know what, I’m glad little Miss Julie -Close Gitmo- Christie lost. Acting like a anti-American pig on the red carpet waving her little Canadian flag (White, right?) and bitching about Gitmo… She can kiss our terriorist killing, UN hating, Iraq invading, Red White and Blue ass as she goes home empty-handed hoping she someday scores an HONORARY Oscar. See ya in Canada Julie– unless, of course you decent decent healthcare.”

I don’t know how much one has to hate art and hate life to harbor an intense, simmering resentment against Julie Christie because she made some mild statements opposing arbitrary detention and torture. Frankly, I don’t want to know. It’s the kind of market we can do without.

One might also think that a writer about film would be aware that Julie Christie has actually already won an Oscar, but of course the website in question has nothing to do with film so it makes sense.

[Thanks to Roy. I think.]

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Only the Times…

[ 15 ] February 26, 2008 |

…Could frame this as a negative for Obama:

“And while he has made progress among women, he still faces a striking gender gap: Mr. Obama is backed by two-thirds of the Democratic men and 45 percent of the women. White women remain a Clinton stronghold.”

So the paper is telling me that the fact that Obama supporters include almost half the women in the country Democratic party and 66% of the men is a vulnerability? Sure there’s a gender gap, but it’s much smaller than it used to be.

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