Subscribe via RSS Feed

The Brits: More Puritanical Even Than Us?

The Guardian is reporting that Heinz has been forced to pull this television ad in response to viewer complaints.

From the Guardian:

The Heinz Deli Mayo ad has been pulled after less than a week on air after viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that it was “offensive” and “inappropriate to see two men kissing”.

Other complaints include that the ad was “unsuitable to be seen by children” and that it raised the difficult problem of parents having to discuss the issue of same-sex relationships with younger viewers.


Be Sociable!

Avoiding College Athletic Peonage

[ 50 ] June 24, 2008 |

Although I assume not enough players will go to make a significant dent in the system, like Matt I would hope that some aspiring basketball players will choose to go to Europe and actually get compensated for their services rather than be grossly exploited by the NCAA. The system in which everyone is allowed to profit as much as they can from college athletics except the players whose skills actually create the market is bad enough. But the collaboration of the NBA and NFL makes it even worse; at least players who are ready should have options to play at another professional level, including the league itself. (I’m still amazed by sportswriters who not only defend the NBA’s new restrictions on high school players being drafted but claim it’s actually in the interest of the athletes.) The exploitation of baseball players in college is far less severe, not only because the teams are not as profitable but because players have a viable professional option.

Be Sociable!

Ah, Saletan

I should just stop reading him and lump him with MoDo.

But alas. I have not.

In this installment, Saletan takes on pharmacists who refuse to dispense oral contraception (nevermind emergency contraception — this is just about basic birth control). And guess what? He thinks those feminist legal arguments are just plain silly and that it’s not a big deal if a woman has to go to several different pharmacies just to get her birth control. Verbatim Saletan (note: not shorter):

First: “Walling off” women’s health care? Beware dramatic metaphors from lawyers. There is no wall. You bring your scrip to the pharmacy, and the guy at the counter says, “Sorry, we don’t stock contraceptives.” That’s annoying and, in my view, stupid. But nobody’s walling you in. Your burden consists of finding another pharmacy.
Second: Why Viagra and not contraception? Because some pro-lifers view hormonal contraception as potentially lethal. I don’t share their anxiety about this theoretical risk to an early embryo, particularly when the alternative, in the event of pregnancy, is a high likelihood of fetal killing. But you can’t blow off the argument by assuming that contraception should be covered because it’s more important than Viagra. The whole point of the argument is that you’re looking at it backward: The fact that contraception is more consequential than Viagra is a reason to be more wary, not less, of distributing it.

And it goes on. And on.

But here’s the part that I find most head-scratch-inducing:

But I wouldn’t force pharmacies to sell birth control if they don’t want to. In particular, I dread Charo’s suggestion that providers should be compelled to offer “legal” drugs. One of this country’s greatest achievements is its separation of legality from morality, so that individuals can hold themselves to a higher standard, as they see it, without forcing it on everyone else. This is the principle many pro-lifers have rejected as they press for abortion bans to “teach” the immorality of killing fetuses. Happily, some have shifted their energy from attacking abortion clinics to setting up “alternative” pregnancy centers. It’s a shift from violence and harassment to exhortation and, at worst, deceit.

Right. So apparently separating the moral from the governmental means – to Saletan – that we should allow our laws to give in to morality rather than saying that people’s morality must be subjugated to individual liberty where the exercise of their morality affects the rights of another person. Saletan totally misses the point. The pharmacists ARE forcing their morality on other people. Not everyone, but women. I guess to Saletan that constituency is just not important enough.

Be Sociable!


[ 11 ] June 23, 2008 |

Still on the air and still a bigot, apparently.

Be Sociable!

Homeownership As Ideology

[ 65 ] June 23, 2008 |

Like Jon Cohn, I think that Krugman is dead on today. In particular, capping the mortgage deduction — extremely regressive while doing little to advance any useful public goal — at the lowest politically viable level is a no-brainer, although a gradual implementation to prevent major shocks to the market would presumably be necessary.

Be Sociable!

You Are Here

[ 18 ] June 23, 2008 |

Via CT, here’s a map of the “the 297 most visible and influential [political] websites and blogs.” Of course any cutoff point would be purely arbitrary anyway, but I still wonder who #298, 299, and 300 might have been….

The closeup of the conservative political blogosphere is pictured here:

Be Sociable!

President Bush Thinks Your Baby Is Better Without You

[ 0 ] June 23, 2008 |


Congress is well on its way to approving four week of paid parental leave for federal employees upon the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a foster child. But guess what? Bush is threatening to veto it, calling it a “costly, unnecessary, new paid leave entitlement.”

Here’s more on the bill (which the House has approved):

Under the measure, employees would be able to continue to use accrued vacation days as part of their parental leave. The bill also would make it easier to use sick leave to care for a child by eliminating the current requirement to demonstrate medical need. The Office of Personnel Management would have the discretion to grant an additional four weeks of paid leave. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the legislation would cost about $105 per federal employee annually.

Sounds like a common sense policy to me, even despite its cost. The White House and OMB don’t think so because they think sick time is enough. But if you’ve been sick and you have a baby, you’re screwed. Ah, the compassionate nature of our conservatives.

Be Sociable!

George Carlin, 1937-2008.

[ 3 ] June 23, 2008 |


Be Sociable!


[ 40 ] June 23, 2008 |

In a general sense, I agree that sometimes people can get a little sloppy about blaming “the Democrats” for the enactment of policies or nomination confirmations opposed by most Democrats in Congress. Pace Ralph Nader, it’s pretty silly to use (for example) the passage of a tax bill that only 12 Dem Sentaors and 28 House Dems supported and that a Democratic president would have vetoed to argue that there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

On the FISA bill, though, I can’t really object if people want to say the Democrats caved. It’s true that plenty of Dems did oppose it, and in this sense the party is better. On the other hand, the House leadership supported it, the party’s de facto leader supported it, and its very prominent runner-up hasn’t done anything about it either. This wansn’t a vote made possible by the malapportionment of and/or lax party disciple in the Senate or the collaboration of a small minority of Blue Dogs. The passage of the awful FISA bill is a failure of the Democratic Party. It was all too “bipartisan.”

Be Sociable!

Bye Bye Black

[ 4 ] June 23, 2008 |

Hmm, this doesn’t seem promising for the chances of disgraced reactionary media magnate Conrad Black’s appeal succeeding:

When Andrew Frey, Lord Black’s lawyer, tried to explain how prosecutors misapplied a legal theory known as honest services, Judge Posner said bluntly that the evidence in the case dealt with “a pretty naked fraud.” During a discussion about the obstruction of justice charge, which involves Lord Black removing boxes from his Toronto office in 2005, Judge Posner called Lord Black’s actions “bizarre” and took Mr. Frey to task for arguing that the material had already been reviewed by prosecutors.


Judge Posner shot back that he could not understand how the payments could be both management fees and payments not to compete. “To be paid not to do something in the future is not a management fee,” he said. He also questioned why the payments went to Lord Black, Mr. Boultbee and Mr. Atkinson individually instead of to their private company, Ravelston Corp. Ltd., which had been Hollinger’s practice in the past. “Where is the credit on the books to account for the management fees?” he asked.

In fairness, he had to know he was in trouble when he drew a rabid Trotskyite like Posner… [via Pithlord.]

Be Sociable!

Not Again

[ 16 ] June 23, 2008 |

Andrew Roberts in The Telegraph brushes the dust bunnies off the weak and overused Truman analogy to explain once again why the Bush administration — which has been a perfectly evident disgrace to anyone not toting around a paper bag and several jars of rubber cement — will someday be viewed as a triumph of democracy, whiskey and sexy. The analogy is stupidly familiar by this point, relying almost entirely on the observation that while Truman left office in a deep pit of unpopularity, he established a foreign policy framework that would eventually bear the United States aloft to victory in the cold war.

The premise is debatable enough; even if we concede that containment policy in Europe accomplished what it was supposed to, containment policy in the so-called developing world — Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa — was nothing short of disastrous, for reasons that scarcely require description. Truman bears less responsibility for this fact than his numerous successors, but post-cold war wingnut triumphalism — which is partly responsible for the Truman myth invoked by Bush and his few remaining believers — requires a massive national amnesia on this point. The Korean War, which factored highly in Truman’s miserable approval ratings, froze US-Chinese relations for over two decades; helped to lock the nation into the awful monotony of ever-rising defense budgets; and provided the rationale for American commitments to the defense of French Indochina. Moreover, the American failure to forcefully roll back communism in North Korea encouraged Eisenhower and Kennedy to pursue covert operations that seemed less obviously risky than inconclusive and bloody police actions.

Still, it also bears mentioning that unlike Bush, Truman left office with a string of foreign policy accomplishments — the European Recovery (Marshall) Program, the formation of NATO, the creation of the United Nations, the Berlin Airlift – whose successes were widely acknowledged at the time. It takes an epic fit of optimism to argue — as Roberts does — that

once the decades have put the stirring events of those years into their proper historical context, four great facts will emerge that will place Bush in a far better light than he currently enjoys.

The overthrow and execution of a foul tyrant, Saddam Hussein; the liberation of the Afghan people from the Taliban; the smashing of the terrorist networks of al-Qa’eda in that country and elsewhere and, finally, the protection of the American people from any further atrocities on US soil since 9/11, is a legacy of which to be proud. . .

Every clause in that last paragraph is filled with a seam-bursting load of horseshit. Which is, I suppose, as proper an epitaph as one might imagine for a presidency that has brought otherwise sane people to miss Nixon.

Be Sociable!

"Moral" Refusal Clauses: Coming Soon to an Ambulance Near You

Pharmacists refusing to stock or dole out birth control or emergency contraception is, sadly, nothing new.

But it’s now gone one step further: According to a Kos contributor, a certain small segment of ambulance drivers/EMTs are refusing to transport women to the emergency room for medically necessary abortions.

Which of course means that women who will die if they don’t get to the hospital — and fast — are not getting the hospital, and certainly not fast. Nice to know that women’s lives count oh so much.

Be Sociable!