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No Matter How Bad You Think It Is, It’s Worse

[ 0 ] December 24, 2007 |


Liberal Fascist

It is pretty amazing that Jonah Goldberg would note that the rabidly homophobic Nazi Party also contained a substantial number of homosexuals and use this to draw an analogy with…modern liberalism. In fact, of course, by Goldberg’s Hitler-was-a-vegetarian logic because he’s a modern Republican he is therefore also a fascist. Granted, Goldberg and his allies prefer making gays second-class legal citizens, vulnerable to employment and housing discrimination, and fomenting hatred for political benefits as opposed to castration, torture, and murder, but according to his underlying premises these distinctions are irrelevant to whether or not you’re a fascist…

But never has a fascist argument been made in such detail or with such care.

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Newsflash: Pregnancy is not a Disability

[ 0 ] December 23, 2007 |

Lest we think that pregnancy discrimination is a thing of the past, New Yorker Ron Blauchut is here to remind us. Upon learning that his Congresswoman, Kirsten Gillibrand, is pregnant, he wrote a charming letter to the editor to his local paper:

First of all, I must admit that I am a male chauvinist and that there are, thankfully, differences between men and women. There are many occupations suitable for women and their physical attributes. Carrying a weapon while serving in the Armed Forces and firefighting are not suitable lines of work for women to prove that they are physically equal to men. How many male police officers feel comfortable with a 100 pound female backup?

And now, I have to add serving in the U.S. House and Senate as an occupation that may not be suitable for women.

Ms. Gillibrand’s current pregnancy makes a strong case for my opinion. Ms. Gillibrand was elected to serve her constituency, and while she is away from her elected office she cannot perform those duties. The taxpayers who were duped into voting for her will have to pay for her medical benefits. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, Ms. Gillibrand receives excellent health benefits, courtesy of her constituents. We will be without representation in Congress for a time leading up to and following the child’s birth. There will be times when she and the new baby will visit doctors. You can add those days to the total that she will not be serving her constituents.

The current base salary (2006) for members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year. I wonder if Ms. Gillibrand will do the right thing and reimburse the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $452.60, her daily salary, for each day that she is unable to perform her elected duties. For some reason, I doubt it.

First of all, I will say that he could have skipped that admission bit at the front; it’s pretty damn obvious. Second, has Mr. Blauchut forgotten about all the other reasons that elected officials “miss” days of work, none of which seem to annoy him? What about open heart surgery? Or campaigning for president? I’m guessing that he’s not asking Senators McConnell or McCain to return their $452 for each day they have been absent from their senate offices or from floor votes. And, for what it’s worth, I’m guessing that Mr. McConnell’s medical bills were far higher than Rep. Gillibrand’s will be.

No, Blauchut’s problem is not so much that his representative (who, mind you, already has one child and seems to have managed fine thus far) will have to miss a few days of work, but that a woman is in a traditionally male position of power at all.


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Ice Cream For Crow?

[ 0 ] December 23, 2007 |

Obama pulls slightly ahead in New Hampshire. Hey, I’d be happy to be wrong…

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Dear Mr. President…

[ 77 ] December 22, 2007 |

I am not for sale, and neither is your daughter.

love, bean.

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"Gimme gimme gimmedon’t ask what it’s for"

[ 17 ] December 22, 2007 |

Blogging will be mercifully light from my end until the New Year, when I will return from two weeks of non-stop loafing and snacking in the Midwest.

For those who haven’t finished shopping for the holidays, however, I have a few unhelpful suggestions:

  1. Confederate Men’s Cologne. A mere $15 per bottle (which is somewhat more affordable than the $50 fee required to become a Confederate citizen.) The cologne comes in two varieties — “Secession” and “Southern Gentleman” — both of which I assume carry the faint aroma of dickweed.

  2. GWAR Action figures. I had a chance to see these guys in college once, but I totally chickened out. The regret continues to dangle like a millstone around my neck.
  3. ‘Swounds!
  4. A case of Batter Blaster, the world’s first aerosol-powered pancake batter. Because even the laziest goddamn people in the world should be able to eat pancakes now and again.
  5. The Tom Tancredo campaign store is officially toast, but you can still look like a belligerent xenophobe by shopping the free market.
  6. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
  7. Powerline “messenger bag”. Ideal for delivering mainline GOP talking points.
  8. Baby Jesus Butt Plug. Drove Confederate Yankee to distraction two years ago. Ah, the memories

As they say, give ’til it hurts.

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So Much For Compassionate Immigration Laws

[ 0 ] December 22, 2007 |

[Sorry to disappear for two days, kids. Was out of town surprising a friend who is getting married and who was in the states from Europe, where she lives. Am back. Obviously.]

The loud and clear lesson from this article in today’s Times: if you are an undocumented immigrant, ’tis better to stay under the radar than to take on a public service career. From the sad story of Oscar Ayala-Cornejo/Jose Morales:

Growing up here, Oscar Ayala-Cornejo recalls, he played chess and devoured comics, hung out at the mall and joined the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. After high school, he realized a childhood dream, joining the Milwaukee Police Department.

But when Mr. Ayala-Cornejo filled out recruitment papers, he used the name of a dead relative who had been a United States citizen. He had to, Mr. Ayala-Cornejo says, because ever since his parents brought him here from Mexico when he was 9, he has lived in the country illegally.

The life that Mr. Ayala-Cornejo carefully built here, including more than five years with the police force, is to end at noon on Saturday, when, heeding a deportation order, he will board a plane bound for the country he left as a child.

In May, acting on an anonymous tip, immigration agents arrested him on charges of falsely representing himself as a citizen. He pleaded guilty, and is now permanently barred from the United States.

It’s obviously a bad idea to take on someone else’s identity in this age of identity theft and terrorism. So strike one. But it seems to me that it’s in cases like this that some sort of amnesty program might make sense. He is a policeman, for chrissakes.

For example, if the immigration bill had passed last year, Mr. Ayala-Cornejo and others like him who graduated from high school in the United States would be eligible to adjust status without having to leave the country and re-enter — a process that is onerous, time consuming, and that takes years and years. Stories like this also put into sharp relief for me that the country’s immigration problems stem not only from undocumented immigration but also from the stinginess of our legal immigration system. Mr. Ayala-Cornejo, the article says, could have had his younger brother, a citizen, sponsor him to immigrate. But that would have required a long absence (10 years!) from the country and from his family. The sad irony is that he will now have to bear absences from his family of perhaps indefinite duration; unless his parents have adjusted status, they will not be able to leave the U.S., and he can now never return.

Seems to me there’s room to condemn identity theft in the service of undocumented immigration while also implementing a program that provides amnesty for people who immigrated as children and are now, as adults, dealing with the fallout of their parents’ choices.

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"St. Reagan Didn’t Lie! Or Engage In Racism! He Just Embellished His Rhetoric With Stories That Didn’t Happen While Using Racist Code Words!"

[ 14 ] December 22, 2007 |

Shorter Ross Douthat: The fact that a woman living in subsidized housing in New Orleans has a big T.V. means that there couldn’t have been any racism in Ronald Reagan’s invocation of apocryphal “welfare queens” with “Cadillacs,” and “strapping young bucks“* buying “T-Bone steaks” with food stamps. The logic is unassailable!

*Note: flagrantly racist term used only below the Mason-Dixon line, but I’m sure welfare recipients in New Hampshire weren’t strapping!

(Via Edroso.)

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These Things, They are the Same…

[ 9 ] December 22, 2007 |

Mark Hemingway via Yglesias. Guess who he’s writing about:

His relentless use of folksy aphorisms and corny rhetorical sleight of hand provokes visceral objections — but the criticism isn’t merely superficial. In the TNR I piece I linked to yesterday a member of the press corps observed, “He thinks and speaks in metaphors. And, often, they’re not right.” That, well, hits the nail on the head. [...] I don’t think I’m being uncharitable when I say that’s disturbingly authoritarian. He should probably start answering some critics instead of dismissing this all as “The Establishment” trying to keep a good ol’ boy down.

If you guessed “George W. Bush”, you’re wrong; it’s Mike Huckabee. But it’s difficult for me to understand how Hemingway distinguishes between the two…

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Friday Cat Blogging

[ 14 ] December 21, 2007 |

Although her brother Henry has recetly been caught rogering my daughter’s stuffed animals, Emma is by far the more unhinged of the two. She has always devoted some part of her nights to carrying around fake mice and other cat toys, but in recent months — as our home’s canine-feline hostilities have escalated — she’s turned the crazy amp to 11. All but forbidden from the master bedroom, Emma has apparently decided to barricade her caretakers and their two dogs behind a wall of socks, washcloths, hand towels, diapers, computer cords, mittens, hats and garbage, all of which she drags into the hallway during the middle of the night to prop against our door. Most animal behaviorists would probably claim that she’s overcompensating for lost attention, or that old age has started turning her brain to fruit loops, but I’m convinced that she’s genuinely trying to entomb us.

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And The Money Is Being Laundered Through Vince Foster’s Corpse!

[ 78 ] December 21, 2007 |

The Clenis (TM) — now so powerful that he can control the GOP nomination:

The reader was convinced that none other than Bill and Hill were Huckabee’s ultimate backers. Given how divisive Huckabee is, how well they know know the passions of the Evangelical community (and deep anger there, if my inbox is any guide), and the magnitude of money in Bill’s “library fund,” well, it’s as plausible an answer as any to “how the hell did this happen?” Huckabee is the candidate easiest for any Democrat to knock off, by a long shot. And there goes the GOP coaltion for a long time to come. Now that would be quite a Clinton legacy.

Aside from the high comedy (Huckabee being propelled by Bill Clinton’s money would be rather more convincing if Huackabee actually had any money), the crackdown of GOP elites against Huckabee is instructive. After being told how immensely popular reactionary cultural positions were and how the Democrats had no choice but to throw most of their constituencies under the bus and let the Angry White Men have their way, conservative pundits now claiming that running someone who actually believes this stuff rather than somebody who cynically exploits a minority faction would be electoral suicide. I think the lesson is obvious.

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Bad For Labor, Bad For Business

[ 8 ] December 21, 2007 |

Via Will Bunch, apparently Circuit City was begging some of its laid off employees to come back. Awwwww. As he concludes about the companay’s strategy of firing its competent workers, “[s]ince then, I’ve pretty much done any electronics shopping at Best Buy — and so does everyone else, apparently.”

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Presidential Candidates: Not Pundits

[ 27 ] December 21, 2007 |

Mark Schmitt gets this exactly right:

As an observer of politics, and commenter on it, I almost entirely share Krugman’s and Edwards’ diagnoses. I appreciate the conflictual nature of politics. I don’t think there’s some cross-partisan truth; I understand that the Republican conservatives are intractable. I know those advantaged by the current structure of power are determined to preserve it, and the well-funded campaign to destroy any possibility of progressive governance will be as intantaneous and intense as anything in 1993. I’ve tried to spell this out as clearly and aggressively as possible, especially to counter the tendency among elites to imagine that the good old days when Republicans and Democrats worked together selflessly and put ideology aside to solve the nation’s problems are coming back. (Or that they were so great to start with.)

But let’s take a slightly different angle on the charge that Obama is “naïve” about power and partisanship. Suppose you were as non-naïve about it as I am — but your job wasn’t writing about politics, it was running for president? What should you do? In that case, your responsibility is not merely to describe the situation exactly, but to find a way to subvert it. In other words, perhaps we are being too literal in believing that “hope” and bipartisanship are things that Obama naively believes are present and possible, when in fact they are a tactic, a method of subverting and breaking the unified conservative power structure. Claiming the mantle of bipartisanship and national unity, and defining the problem to be solved (e.g. universal health care) puts one in a position of strength, and Republicans would defect from that position at their own risk. The public, and younger voters in particular, seem to want an end to partisanship and conflictual politics, and an administration that came in with that premise (an option not available to Senator Clinton), would have a tremendous advantage, at least for a moment.

To accept the obvious truths that politics is about conflict, that many political disputes are incommensurable, and that partisanship is therefore not inherently a bad thing does not mean that repeatedly emphasizing conflicts is an effective rhetorical strategy. To take Obama’s rhetoric on this score at face value is silly. It’s overwhelmingly likely that he understands perfectly well the nature of the GOP, but also understands that “the current GOP is horrible and we should therefore kill them and then salt the earth so it can never grow again” isn’t an effective means of appealing to swing voters.

..and as for political efficacy, the fact that Obama substantially outperforms Clinton against anybody seems definitive.

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