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Deep Thought

[ 0 ] October 18, 2009 |

Slappy Rodriguez will never get a hit in a big game. As so many New York sportswriters informed us, the Yankees would be much better off with a nice Scott Brosius knockoff…


Evasive Tactics In Arguments You’re Hopelessly Losing Part I

[ 0 ] October 17, 2009 |

Via Plumer, Stephen Dubner’s attempt to preempt the many critics of their global warming arguments contains two classic approaches:

We have a chapter in SuperFreakonomics about global warming and it too will likely produce a lot of shouting, name-calling, and accusations ranging from idiocy to venality. It is curious that the global-warming arena is so rife with shrillness and ridicule. Where does this shrillness come from? Some say that left-leaning activists have merely borrowed their right-leaning competitors from years past.

Note the two key elements:

  • Vagueness. Try to avoid naming specific critics, and certainly avoid citing their actual arguments.
  • Criticize tone, not substance. It’s kind of amazing to see the “Paul Krugman is teh shrill!!!!” style of argument at this late date, but here we are, complete with the more-in-sorrow-than-anger decrying of the lack of civility (cf. also Clive Crook.)

When you say that your critics are shrill rather than explaining why they’re wrong, it’s a pretty clear sign that you’ve got nothing.

Glenn Beck: The 1970s Were Golden Era

[ 0 ] October 17, 2009 |

The latest tear-jerker from Glenn Beck will remind some readers of that drunken idiot who cornered you at the last reunion and wasted ten minutes of your life describing, with malodorous inaccuracy, how fucking awesome everything was when you were in high school together.

In any event, the entire clip is standard gauge Beck — chalkboard, photos of administration officials hastily slapped up next to portraits of dictators, silences by turns reverential and mournful, the fake tears and the rest of it — but by far the weirdest part comes about three and a half minutes in, as he uses Coke’s old Mean Joe Greene spot along with one of Kodak’s “Times of Your Life” ads to remind his (apparently middle-aged) viewers of a “simpler time” in the nation’s history. Which is obviously a multiple tiers of bat-shit, given (a) the implied assumption that television advertising’s generic nostalgia was somehow more sociologically accurate way back when, and (b) the fact that, in this case, “way back when” happened to be 1979 and 1975, respectively. I realize that Beck spends most of his time dreaming about kissing George Washington on the mouth, so more recent historical reference points might have veered away from true North, but seriously — 1979? The annus horribilis of the Carter era? And 1975? The year that witnessed the collapse of South Vietnam and the beginnings of the Cambodian genocide? The year the Weather Underground bombed the State Department?

Has Beck forgotten Wingnut 101? The truly Simpler Times happened in the 1950s, when everyone enjoyed racist Jell-O ads:

Friday Daddy Blogging

[ 0 ] October 16, 2009 |

Elisha and Miriam meet a boy at a Halloween party…

Balloon Boy: America’s Got Morons

[ 0 ] October 16, 2009 |

Yes it’s shameful to give this story another scintilla of bandwith. So sue me.

Seriously, as a resident of Colorado (the damned thing practically landed in my backyard), I’m going to be mighty aggravated if Celebrity-Crazed Dad and his Zombie Cult Wife aren’t arrested for filing a false police report — a felony in our fair state. I do sort of admire the guy though for the planning he put into it.

(1) He waited until a weekday morning when the kids didn’t have school (much better for news ratings than weekend coverage).

(2) He chose a completely clear day, when the prevailing winds were out of the north, so that the balloon would be pushed towards Denver, rather than as would be typical out toward the great and empty plains.

(3) He launched it early enough in the day so there would be enough time for him and his brave little Falcon to do the evening news shows, but not so early that folks wouldn’t be able to follow it because they were commuting to (West Coast) or from (East Coast) work.

(4) He created a hiding place in the garage ceiling for the kid, so as to have a plausible explanation for not being able to find him.

(5) He waited a good 30 minutes before calling a TV station, and maybe an hour before calling the cops, thus allowing the balloon plenty of time to drift toward the media-rich Denver metro area.

However he really dropped the ball on the cardboard box attached to the balloon stuff. That was obviously made up after the fact in a moment of panic, when he forget he had videotaped the launch.

I Want to Play C.O.R.N.Y.!

[ 0 ] October 16, 2009 |

Via B&P, if the new Red Dawn doesn’t have a plot substantially similar to this, I’m going to cry:

Americans, thoroughly disgusted with the socialistic programs that have been thrust upon them over the last few years, vote out seventeen of the nineteen Democrats in the Senate and 178 in Congress that were up for reelection. When asked for his opinion on this monumental power shift in favor of liberty-minded Republicans during the November elections, President Obama is quoted as saying the elections were “ultimately inconsequential;” he allowed the cryptic statement to stand alone and said nothing more on the subject until January’s swearing-in ceremony.
In January 2011, two days prior to the swearing-in of the new Senators and Congressmen, President Obama holds an emergency conference that interrupts the regular broadcasting of every station in the United States, and is replayed on major news networks throughout the day. The news is horrifying, and the ramifications of what the president has said have a numbing effect on the public.

The swearing-in ceremonies are suspended indefinitely, and the current Congress is to remain in place until this “historic transition” is completed. The United States is a creation of “racists and warmongers,” Obama says to a stunned America, and is to be replaced by the North American Union. In the course of this very broadcast, Obama, with two simple pen strokes, signs the “treaties” into law. One dissolves the United States and its Constitution, and the other disarms what is left of the gun-owning United States citizenry, as part and parcel of a United Nations Treaty to ban all firearms, which had already been signed into law by over 40 nations…

Chaos ensues throughout the nation! The Second American Revolution is in full swing by February of 2011, with lists posted by patriots, county by county, naming dozens of government employees and the bounties that can be fetched by their capture. After 7 weeks of fighting in every state, and with the refusal of most United States military branches to obey orders to fire upon American citizens, Obama’s forces are slowly whittled away. The remnants of the Obama loyalists retreat to Virginia. After tens of thousands of their troops are killed, The International Service Union Empire (I.S.U.E.) has just 40,000 left, but still controls three full counties in the name of former President Barack Hussein Obama… Or so they think. The Congress of Rejected and Neglected Youth (C.O.R.N.Y.) controls three counties near Washington D.C., with reports of having at least 60,000 loyalists for Obama.


[ 0 ] October 15, 2009 |

They seem like good series. Let’s hope so, as the wild card round had 3 dogs (although the individual games were often good.)

LA v. PHI Very interesting series, with very talented teams with often-mocked (especially by me) managers who turned out to be excellent. My gut, like the Diamond Mind simulation, says that the Dodgers’ big edge in bullpen will outweigh the Phillies’ (unnecessarily large) edge in the rotation. The key moment in the last series occurred when Howard was idiotically allowed to face a right-handed reliever at a key moment of the game; that’s not likely to happen again. One big wild card, though: I could see Pedro pulling a series-changing Howard Ehmke start in Game 2, which could be a huge plus. But I’ll stick with DODGERS IN SIX.

NYY v. LA The contours of the series are clear enough: perennial contenders fielding their strongest teams in years, with the Yankees (with a better record in a better division) unmistakably although not massively better. The interesting question is how what looks like awful weather in New York will affect things. I see three it cutting three ways:

  • A rainout, obviously, greatly benefits the Angels. Especially given the Yankee lineup, a Kazmir/Gaudin matchup would give the Angels a huge edge, arguably bigger than Sabathia/Lackey or Saunders/Burnett. If a rainout was guaranteed this series might be close to a push, although I would have to think it’s still unlikely on balance.
  • The colder weather could benefit the Angels in two ways: even absent a rainout it will decrease runs, which both helps the weaker offensive team in general by making the games closer and also gives an edge to the team more able to “manufacture” runs, which again would probably be the Angels.
  • On the other hand, closer games give an edge to teams with a better bullpen, and the Yankees have a huge edge here.

If the Angels still had K-Rod, I might be a little more optimistic about their chances. But it’s pretty easy to see Fuentes and company getting the crap pounded out of them in close games, and it’s hard to see many Angel blowouts. YANKS IN 5.

Saletan and Polanski

[ 0 ] October 15, 2009 |

Though alerted by both emailers and commenters about this, I was hoping to avoid it. But then, via Patterico (who deals with it well enough), I saw the followup, and…they pull me back in. First, let’s consider this, when Saletan responds to commenters who noted the fact that he completely ignored the fact that the sex in the Polanski case doesn’t seem to have been even nominally consensual:

Many of you, in response, called attention to the victim’s grand jury testimony, which alleges that Polanski gave her a Quaalude and that he ignored her instructions to stop. Those allegations are important pieces of evidence. Not decisive—we don’t convict people in this country based on grand jury testimony from one party—but important. So are other parts of her testimony, which detail apparently voluntary acts of compliance, such as taking off her underwear.

Even leaving aside the fact that in context at best removing her underwear represented consent to nude photography rather than sexual intercourse, this really isn’t a very complicated question either legally or morally. If she repeatedly said “no” to having sex with Polanski subsequent to removing her underwear, he was obligated to stop, and if he didn’t it’s rape. Period. If her testimony is accurate, there can be no question that Polanski was guilty of sexual assault irrespective of the victim’s age.

Then there’s this:

The same goes for laws about sexual abuse. If you have the goods to convict a man of rape, prosecute him for rape. Don’t invite him to plead guilty to sex with a teenager. That kind of plea deal, coupled with a stiff jail sentence, just furthers the conflation of sexual assault defined by force with sexual assault defined by age.

A couple points:

  • Polanski, given the credible evidence that he was guilty of sexual assault, did not receive anything remotely resembling a stiff sentence. Even had the judge set aside the informal agreement, he did not seem at risk for serving anything more than 90 days.
  • It is true that California made a plea agreement to a lesser offense. Although the sentence was far too lenient, given the context (no rape shield law, and a not-coincidentally reluctant-to-testify victim) I’m not inclined to second-guess the decision without knowing more, and pleading to lesser offenses that the defendant concedes to is banal. But since nobody is saying that Polanski should be re-tried, that’s not the issue. Rather, what’s going on is that Polanski’s apologists are arguing that the director should be given special treatment. If a normal person skipped out on a plea agreement, nobody would find his arrest unusual or claim that his going to jail was unjust. Surely, the victim’s credible testimony under oath that she was sexually assaulted is relevant to determining whether Polanski should not have to face consequences that virtually anyone else in his position would have to, even if the state of California is formally obligated to treat him as if he was guilty only of statutory rape.

Update (Paul): Like Scott I also hate to get pulled back into this, but it’s appalling that Saletan treats statutory rape in this context as significantly different from forcible rape. Obviously statuory rape creates difficult line-drawing problems, but it’s hard to believe that many people find the idea of a 45-year-old man having sex with a 13-year-old girl to be anywhere near such lines. Even leaving aside the fact that the victim was intoxicated, Saletan’s reference to the victim as a “teenager” obscures this. Would he be making the same argument if she had been 12? 12 is a lot closer to 13 for these purposes than 13 is to 17 or 16, and not just mathematically speaking.

My Inalienable Right To Invest In An NFL Team Is Also Being Violated As I Speak!

[ 0 ] October 15, 2009 |

Shorter Andy McCarthy: “In a genuinely post-racial America, someone who compared NFL players with gang members would be allowed to invest in the league without controversy. And, yes, I do actually believe that NFL owners are primarily concerned with what Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson think.”

There’s too much comedy gold generated by the subject to deal with it all, but my personal favorite has to be Ed Driscoll claiming there’s a double standard involved, because the league is allowing Fergie to invest, and she’s a total slut! I mean having more sex with people other than Ed Driscoll than Ed Driscoll deems appropriate is way worse than racism! And at a White House event, she once — cover your ears and hide the children! — totally used the word “ass”! OK, she didn’t actually use the word, but you could tell she wanted to!

Adam has more.

Psychological Damage To Sexual Assault Victims

[ 0 ] October 15, 2009 |

People who consider the victim’s (understandable) desire to put her sexual assault behind her a reason not to punish her rapist in the Roman Polanski case may wish to consider Theoren Fleury being willing to hire the coach who assaulted him to coach the junior team he owned. Being sexually assaulted has all kinds of psychological effects, but they don’t eliminate a rapist’s moral or legal culpability. Of course, since James’s victims were young men, nobody seems to have trouble understanding that in this case.

More On Snowe

[ 0 ] October 15, 2009 |

I think Joan gets it right. On balance, I think it’s quite possible that giving up even this very thin veneer of bipartisanship would produce a better bill on balance, although given the number of conservative Dems it’s arguable.

Peak Wingnut, October 14 2009

[ 0 ] October 15, 2009 |

Orly Taitz, the enterprising lawyer who has filed various lawsuits alleging that Barack Obama is constitutionally ineligible to be president of the United States, has achieved the perhaps unique legal distinction of so enraging a federal judge with her lunatic theories that she has been fined $20,000 for making frivolous legal arguments, without opposing counsul first moving for sanctions.

Readers who don’t want to wade through this mess may wish to peruse pages 16-18 of the judge’s ruling, dealing with the mysterious appearance of Attorney General Eric Holder in a Columbus Georgia coffee shop, and Microsoft’s tottering financial empire.