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[ 20 ] May 27, 2010 |

I’ll confess, this is actually pretty amusing. Pathetic, yes, but amusing. Also, it appears that Kaus has found his constituency:

Mickey Kaus has taken out papers to run against California Senator Barbara Boxer. What is so interesting about Kaus is that he takes positions that traditional Democrats might have favored. He is against Amnesty and a strong opponent of illegal immigration. Kaus is also admittedly pretty skeptical of Unions, especially the Teachers Union. He is also uncomfortable with Congressional Gerrymandering.

Kaus became known as a powerful voice in the blogging world with his investigative reporting prior to the election of Arnold Swarzeneggar, where he uncovered Arnold’s claim in a magazine that he had participated in group sex. Later, he also discovered that the current Governor, then brick layer, was damaging chimneys to help his own business. Perhaps we should have listened at the time, and saved ourselves from “The RINOnator”.

Via Greenwald and Digby.

UPDATE [by SL]: That second link is a real find. I mean, “I censored the key word here–the Left never does” — are we sure this isn’t another parody? I especially like the claim that The Left finds Dane Cook funny. Uh…

UPDATE [by Rob]: I demand that the Left step forward and answer this charge of finding Dane Cook funny!


Unconvincing Endorsements of Kagan

[ 6 ] May 27, 2010 |

I guess she will be a judge in the same tradition as Louis Brandeis, in the same sense that Vincente Padilla is a “Dodgers Opening Day starter” in the tradition of  Sandy Koufax.

To elaborate a bit, while they were different men in a number of ways, one thing that united the three previous holders of the seat Kagan will occupy was tough-mindedness and idiosyncracy.   Many of their most notable opinions were dissents and concurrences: for example, Brandeis in the free speech cases and Olmstead, Douglas in Poe v. Ullman, Adderly, and Doe v. Bolton, and Stevens in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United.    In this respect, they couldn’t be much more different than Kagan, whose renown is based on being a world-class ass-kisser consensus-builder.

Of course, if you think that Supreme Court justices can be managed in the way that a dean can manage their faculty, this can be seen as a feature; I find the idea pretty silly.   Even if you lend more credence to this than I do, however, there’s a problem: the failure to remember that networking is a two-way process.   Why would we assume that Kagan will be influencing Kennedy and Roberts, rather than vice versa?    One thing you can definitely say about Brandeis, Douglas, and Stevens is that they’re weren’t susceptible to manipulation by conservatives seeking votes…

Of Course They Are!

[ 17 ] May 27, 2010 |

I can’t say this is surprising; filibustering the repeal of DADT would be entirely consistent with the history of this indefensible device.

Meanwhile, speaking of media incompetence about McCain, I offer the following juxtaposition. John McCain, in real life:

Armed Services ranking member John McCain said Thursday that he would “without a doubt” support a filibuster if the bill goes to the floor with repeal language.

“I’ll do everything in my power,” the Arizona Republican said, citing letters from the four service chiefs urging Congress not to act before a Pentagon review of the policy is complete. “I’m going to do everything I can to [ensure that bigotry continues to infect hiring decisions in America’s armed forces.]”

John McCain, in the dreamlife of a certain kind of center-left pundit:

A similar pattern describes his views on gay rights. I remember McCain telling me during an interview in the mid-1990s about how a gay member of his staff sensitized him to the issue. When he ran for president in 2000, he won the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans. The Advocate calls him “notoriously pro-gay.” In 2004, McCain was one of only six Republican senators to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and after a Massachusetts court affirmed gay unions, he took the position that states could decide their own marriage laws without federal help. McCain has lately fallen back into formation, saluting an obnoxious Arizona bill that would deny benefits to unmarried couples. Gay leaders in his state, who know better than to take such maneuvering seriously, have already let him off the hook. The rest of us should be sophisticated enough to recognize that politics is the art of the possible, and that what’s in McCain’s heart on this subject (as President Bush might say) is not a viable stance for any presidential candidate just yet, especially a Republican one.

But don’t kid yourself, one of these days politics will end, and What’s In McCain’s Heart will finally emerge!

But No One Doubts that the Execution of Dennis Miller was Just…

[ 2 ] May 27, 2010 |

Absolute monarchy is an institution that humanity never should have given up:

After serving 12 years in the position, Motley, the official White House Jester, was beheaded Tuesday after delivering a poorly received jape about the spiraling national debt before President and Mrs. Obama…

Witnesses said Obama’s mood immediately darkened and, pounding on the arm of the Presidential Throne, he demanded new jesting. After nervously clearing his throat, Motley was heard to ask, “Wherefore is the National Debt like a sprouting leaf of spinach?” When a glowering Obama demanded the answer, Motley stated, “For it shall rapidly grow into something our children cannot bear.”

At this, Obama reportedly dropped the large turkey leg in his hand and signaled to nearby Secret Service agents, who seized Motley and dragged him, pleading, to the Executive Dungeon. The President exited the Hall in a fury, and within minutes had drafted an order of execution by beheading.

“The First Executioner completed his task in one true swing,” said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who presided over the assembled crowd of some 20,000 onlookers. “His head has been spitted on a pike and displayed facing E Street as a warning to they who would mock our most precipitously extended federal debt.”

In his career, Motley entertained three presidents, capered at five White House Correspondents’ Dinners, and hosted a season of Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. He is the first sitting White House Jester to be executed since the 1998 drawing and quartering of his predecessor, Dennis Miller, on the National Mall.

Measles is the Jew of public health fascism

[ 18 ] May 27, 2010 |

Via David Gorski, it appears that The Refusers are not, in fact, a parody of the eclectic anti-vaccination rock and/or roll you grew up with:

Inspired by his previous career as a LA session player and recording artist, Michael [Belkin] has brought infectious elements of funk, gospel, rock, and even a touch of punk to this project. Combining this with his pointed lyrics discussing vaccine issues and government-mandated intrusion into our personal lives, The Refusers embodies, in the great American tradition of protest music, a sound that will be heard around the world. With lyrics like “they can keep their flu vaccine” and “a vaccine needle stole my baby away,” this record will have you on your feet shouting “keep your mandates out of my body”!

It will also try to persuade you that World Health Organization is pushing the influenza vaccine as part of some sort of coordinated response to the 1999 WTO protests. I wish I were kidding about that. Elsewhere, Belkin devotes an entire song to comparing the Centers for Disease Control (a federal agency that spends almost 90 percent of its budget on grants) to the Nazi secret police (a federal agency that administered the concentration camps). Belkin and the Refusers appeared at today’s Autism quackstock in Grant Park; they were joined at the rally by Andrew Wakefield, whose odious (and retracted) “research” into MMR and autism will certainly rank him among the greatest frauds in the history of medicine. I’m not sure whether to feel more pity for Wakefield or Belkin, though I suppose they deserve each other.

…and apparently it gets worse! The Refusers are evidently led by the “impeccable beat of drummer Brendan Hill,” one of the founding members of Blues Traveler — a band for whom an effective vaccine has not yet emerged from Phase I trials.

The War of Words in the Korean Peninsula

[ 1 ] May 26, 2010 |

Among the various claims being bandied about in Asia is the reminder that “a state of war” still exists between the two Koreas because a formal peace was never declared in 1953. (In fact this article from Reuters had the highest Google ranking yesterday for the keywords “North Korea.”)

And it’s true. It’s also fairly meaningless. As Columbia University’s Tanisha Faizal shows in this working paper based on a new dataset she’s gathered, almost no one declares either war or peace anymore.

“Rich Pricks Who Don’t Care About Football May Be Less Likely To Attend 2014 Super Bowl.”

[ 29 ] May 26, 2010 |

Uh, good?

This will be familiar to everyone who reads political journalism, but many sports journalists are afflicted with a similar Stockholm Syndrome in which “maximizing the taxpayer-subsidized profits of billionaire owners” is conflated with “the good of the sport” or “the fans.” But this faux-concern that corporate fat cats might be slightly inconvenienced by not being able to watch football in antiseptic conditions is an especially good example. I can see why it might be in NFL’s interests to keep its corporate sponsors as comfortable as possible, but why the hell should I care about that? What I do know is is the football is vastly better outdoors than played in a warehouse, and having to deal with less-than-perfect weather makes the game much more interesting.

Not that I think the NFL is even sacrificing profits anyway; if you can get 71,000 fans to watch a regular season NHL game outside in January in Buffalo, it’s safe to say attendance isn’t going to be down. And having the Super Bowl played in an actual football stadium is likely to attract even higher ratings than usual.

The Deficit Scam

[ 11 ] May 26, 2010 |

And, of course, it’s even worse than this. If the Obama administration does succeed in cutting the deficit, this will just be a pretext for even more upper-class tax cuts from the next Republican administration. After all, otherwise we might face history’s worst crisis, paying off the national debt too quickly!!!!!!!!!!!! Or, more likely, a brand-new pretext that’s even more idiotic.

If you hear from any nominally Democratic or liberal pundit who hasn’t figured out the con yet, you can safely decide to ignore everything they might have to say about politics in the future.

Nobody Could Have Predicted

[ 11 ] May 26, 2010 |

The states would end up pulling a bait-and-switch on the significant resources necessary to actually make “welfare reform” work.

If You Love Reagan, You’ll Like Field of Dreams.

[ 3 ] May 26, 2010 |


V Sucks

[ 11 ] May 25, 2010 |

Here’s a thought: If you’re going to make one of your main characters a Catholic priest, try to have a point.  It makes it so much more interesting for the viewer.  You’d think, for example, that the Catholic priest might have some mild qualms about the plan to abort several hundred alien eggs with plastic explosives.  Did the Pope determine that the Visitor unborn don’t have souls?  If so, did the half-human-half-lizard baby have half a soul?

I really wish I could believe that this was a subtle dig at the incoherence of the anti-choice movement, but coming from ABC that really strains credulity…

More on Israel and South Africa

[ 2 ] May 25, 2010 |

Josh Pollack engages in a somewhat defensive dissent from the idea that Israel may have offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa. He argues that the documents do not provide sufficient proof that Israel offered to sell warheads to SA, and mobilizes Avner Cohen, who knows a lot about the Israeli nuclear program, in support of this case. A couple of observations:

  1. Cohen and Pollack are correct to note that the evidence presented is not definitive. The problem is that, short of a signed confession by Shimon Peres detailing his intentions behind offering payloads in three sizes, there essentially can be no proof of Israeli willingness to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa. Even in that case, it could correctly be noted that Peres often undertook somewhat adventurous foreign policies, and there’s no evidence that Rabin would have allowed the sale go forward. There might be some document somewhere in the Israeli archives indicating a willingness, but I doubt even that. The question, then, isn’t whether we have 100% proof of such willingness, but rather what standard of evidence we’re willing to accept. Frankly, I don’t know whether Rabin (and the rest of the relevant bits of the Israeli national security apparatus) would have gone ahead with the sale if the South Africans had pursued the question further. In this sense, Pollack is probably correct to suggest that McGreal’s headline was a touch sensationalist. I do know, however, that the documents raise some exceedingly difficult and twitchy questions about the Israel-South Africa relationship, above and beyond what was previously known.
  2. Cohen and Pollack seem to allow that Peres was at least rhetorically open to the option of selling nuclear weapons to South Africa. While the statement “Israel was prepared to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa” is more troubling than “Israel’s Defense Minister was willing to entertain the idea of selling nuclear weapons to South Africa,” the distance isn’t all that great. As I suggested in my earlier post, catching the Defence Minister of Iran, Pakistan, or North Korea in a similar conversation would produce calls for the most drastic international action. Relatively few, I suspect, would worry overmuch about whether Supreme Leader Khamenei or Kim Jong-Il had actually given the go ahead to such a sale.