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2 CA To Bush FCC: &&%$ Off

[ 2 ] July 14, 2010 |

Nice to see the Second Circuit rule correctly on the “fleeting expletive” issue the Supreme Court dodged in a sometimes embarrassing opinion by alleged First Amendment absolutist Antonin Scalia.

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Convert ’em While They’re Young

[ 10 ] July 13, 2010 |

and, no, this is not about the regrettable Polanski affair.  I’m befuddled and bemused by that one.

This, on the other hand, makes obvious sense: LGM’s favorite ex-Governor of Alaska needs not only her own auto / biography, she also needs one aimed at nine to 12 year-old children.  Imagine the shitstorm that would arise from Wingnut Central HQ if a similar book were pitched about the life and achievements of the sitting President of the United States, as opposed to a failed VP candidate who is also a quitter.

“Victim”?

[ 11 ] July 13, 2010 |

And Richard Cohen ups the ante in the long-running competition to see which denizen of Fred Hiatt’s crayon scribble page can engage in the most appalling apologia for child rape. I hope Applebaum doesn’t take this as a challenge.

Not that the blame-the-victim is surprising coming from someone with Cohen’s impeccable record of such misogyny (not only in theory but in practice.)

…in fairness, it must be noted that not all of Cohen’s colleagues are drinking the Versailles Kool-Aid.

Contraception Will End the Culture War!

[ 24 ] July 13, 2010 |

I would say that the latest example staunch Republican opposition to expanded access to birth control should be the end of that, but 1)it never “began” in the sense of having any chance of happening, and 2)in a couple months the a bunch of centrist pundits will again originate the idea that contraception might prevent unwanted pregnancies and again forget that professional American “pro-lifers” could care less about reducing abortion rates if they don’t get reactionary misogyny out of the bargain.

The Boss

[ 17 ] July 13, 2010 |

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010.

Although I’ve been a card -carrying Yankee hater for pretty much throughout my living memory, I’ve always had a certain respect for Steinbrenner, essentially for the same reason one should virtually always be pro-player in sports labor negotitations. It’s true that the market Steinbrenner in in has a potential that some other markets don’t have.   It’s also true that the Yankees’ market (as reflected for the low, low price for which Steinbrenner bought the team) has not always been as massive as it is now, and that much of the success of the Yankees on and off the field owes itself to the fact that Steinbrenner actually invested his money in the team while billionaire cheapskates in the Carl Pohlad mode preferred to stuff taxpayer and revenue-sharing money in their pockets.

Of course, he also had many of the flaws of the classic imperious owner, most notably believing he knew far more about the sport than he did.    It’s not a coincidence that the two great teams the Yankees had during his time of active leadership occurred after he had been removed from participation in the team’s operations for more than a year.    He was a crook, and a whiner.    But he was a visionary, and he cared about winning more than anything else.   As an Expos fan, give me that over Claude Brochu or (gulp) Jeffrey Loria any day.  R.I.P.

Update [Paul]: As the resident lawyer at LGM I consider it my morbid duty to demand, under the circumstances, a very careful autopsy.

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Steinbrenner

[ 1 ] July 13, 2010 |

The Yankees won eleven pennants and 7 world series championships during George Steinbrenner’s 37 year ownership tenure. That’s certainly more impressive than any other team since 1973, but is somewhat less sterling than the nineteen years of Topping, Webb, and MacPhail ownership, which resulted in fifteen pennants and 10 titles. Of course, that was a different era; no free agency, no amateur draft, eight team leagues, and so forth. I don’t particularly begrudge Steinbrenner any of those titles; he recognized the value of the Yankees and spent heavily to put them in position to win.

Embedding disabled, but still…

Innovations In Polanski Apolgism

[ 75 ] July 12, 2010 |

While a couple of commenters to this thread raised reasonable (if not entirely convincing to me) questions about problems with the actions of California authorities in seeking extradition, I also saw an especially weak defense that, while apparently not entirely new, I think is new to the comment section here. I’ll quote one representative example since it’s the most coherent:

A thirty-year-old crime in which the victim herself has moved on and even expressed forgiveness toward the creepy culprit? Very important. The state must prosecute now, even though it neglected innumerable instances earlier to rectify the situation. Definitely not political. Definitely on the same level as our current institutionalized torture regime or the fraudulent practices of the banksters. Justice must be served.

Even leaving aside the often made and easily refuted argument in the first sentence (this will become relevant as soon as we change our legal system to one in which crimes are solely against other private individuals and not against the people), there’s so much illogic packed in here it’s hard to know where to begin. It reminds me of the argument that one group of workers shouldn’t be allowed to organize if some group of workers out there is subject to greater exploitation.

The obvious problem with citing John Yoo and Dick Cheney and CitiBank is that there is absolutely no logical or causal relationship between them and the Polanski case whatsoever. We can release every fugitive child rapist in the world and George Bush still isn’t going to be arrested. The argument also proves too much; if taken seriously, apparently we aren’t allowed to prosecute any crimes if someone somewhere is getting away with a worse offense. In other words, the argument isn’t meant to be taken seriously.  It’s just the Versailles defense of Polanski being made through other means. Nobody would argue that a garden variety child rapist who fled the jurisdiction should be exempt from legal sanction because Jay Bybee remains a federal judge. I hope.

This argument is a non-sequitur in another way as well. Even if it’s true that the extraditing Polanski is a highly suboptimal use of resources (which I don’t endorse), so what? I don’t know when it became the job of the Swiss authorities to assess the resource allocation of prosecutors in another country.  Rather, their obligation is to enforce the extradition treaty they duly signed with the United States, and they have presented no serious argument that it’s not enforceable in this case. And it’s worth noting again that the (very real) injustices of the American legal system are less relevant to Polanski than most other defendants. Polanski had the resources to file an appeal with excellent legal counsel, and if the California prosecutors acted illegally the remedy was to be found in a court of law.

I’m on the Wrong Damn Side…

[ 9 ] July 12, 2010 |

Rozen, via Glenn Greenwald:

Our colleague Ken Vogel reported yesterday that Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC has paid Kristol’s Weekly Standard colleague Michael Goldfarb and former McCain campaign foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann of Orion Strategies $90,000 since July 2009 to advise her on foreign policy.

Okay, fine; that’s it. Sarah, let me make you this offer right now: I will work for 2/3rds of whatever you’re paying Mike Goldfarb, and I swear to Jeebus that my product will be twice as good. I can work in the neocon genre:

Peace through strength! Bomb Iran! Palestinians suck! Yay Reagan! A nuke in every home!

See? I’ve already exceeded the Goldfarb standard. Plus, you get to portray yourself as all bipartisan-y and stuff. How can you lose?

Boom

[ 45 ] July 12, 2010 |

Via Ralph Luker, here’s an animated recapitulation of the world’s nuclear tests since 1945. Even with every month reduced to a second, it takes several minutes to gain momentum; from the end of the 1950s through the end of the 1980s, however, the whole thing becomes rather bewildering and about as depressing as tiny beeps and flickers of light can be.

A few random observations:

  1. I can’t imagine most Americans are aware that the US conducted more nuclear tests than every other nation combined from 1945-1998.  For whatever these figures are worth, the number of Soviet tests never eclipsed more than 70 percent of the US total.  By the mid-1970s, when Team B was yodeling about a “window of vulnerability” in the US defense strategy, the US had conducted nearly twice the number of tests as their chief rival.
  2. The British apparently conducted several nuclear tests in the US.  I’ve since learned that there were nine such events from 1983-1991, all apparently in connection to the Trident project.  Didn’t know that.
  3. The most interesting period, in my view, takes place from the end of 1958 through September 1961.  Nothing happens throughout 1959; France sets off a handful of bombs from early 1960 through the spring of 1961; then the Soviets go absolutely apeshit in September of that year, and things don’t really calm down again until the early 1990s.  In this video, the erratic incidence of US and Soviet tests in the 1950s looks and sounds like a conversation.  Afterwards, it’s an incoherent frenzy.

A Bit More on the Romney Thing…

[ 6 ] July 12, 2010 |

More than a few people have noted that the foreign policy vision of the Republican Party appears to have moved to the far right of the Reagan administration; thus, when the Heritage Foundation ghost writes an op-ed for Mitt Romney, the resulting cesspool is a mishmash of opinions that would have been on the far right fringe of Reagan’s national security apparatus. As the oft-cited Baron YoungSmith has argued:

It means, first and foremost, that the responsible Republican foreign policy establishment is not coming back. Mandarins like George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and James Baker, who have all testified or written on behalf of the START treaty—calling it an integral, uncontroversial way of repairing the bipartisan arms-control legacy that sustained American foreign policy all the way up until the George W. Bush administration—are going to be dead soon (or they’ve drifted into the service of Democrats). The people who will take their place will be from a generation of superhawks, like John Bolton, Liz Cheney, and Robert Joseph, who are virulently opposed to the practice of negotiated arms control. Mitt Romney, though a moderate from Michigan, is not going to be the second coming of Gerald Ford.

I made a similar argument in a Right Web article a few weeks ago:

Many of the moderate Republicans who favored arms control and engagement with the Soviet Union are still around, but they have minimal influence on the institutional right. Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, and George Schultz have all played key roles in developing foreign policy for multiple Republican administrations. However, none have developed an extensive base within the institutional right wing, the constellation of independent organizations and foundations (including the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute) that have emerged as key players in internal Republican Party debates. This faction has, by and large, concluded that the greatest threat posed by Russian nuclear weapons is loss, theft, or accidental launch, rather than pre-emptive attack.

In contrast, the signatories to the Washington Times op-ed mentioned above all represent organizations that are part of the institutional machinery of movement conservatism.[11]

In addition, prominent political figures have been able to promote the studies and reports produced by these groups, including for instance Sarah Palin, who despite her clear lack of knowledge on the subject tried to use that hardline rhetoric in attacking Obama’s arms control initiatives.

The influence of the institutional right wing is even more pronounced on foreign policy than domestic policy because so many major political actors (both Democrat and Republican) simply don’t care about foreign policy. I suspect that Mitt Romney actually has opinions about major issues of US domestic policy, and these opinions may even be informed by some subject area knowledge. In foreign policy this is not the case, and Heritage Foundation ideologues who would have been laughed out of the Reagan administration find themselves in command of the foreign policy statements of several major GOP presidential aspirants.

Youngsmith is right to note that the GOP moderates aren’t coming back, but it’s worth additional investigation to determine why they were so helpless in the face of the dire fanatics when it came to developing an institutional base. I suspect that at least part of the answer is personality based; Baker and Scowcroft, for example, seem to have eschewed institution building in favor of cultivating an elite consensus. For whatever reason, this strategy has failed utterly to ster the last ten years of foreign policy production in the Republican Party.

So long, Harvey.

[ 8 ] July 12, 2010 |

Harvey Pekar wasn’t included on the list of people I’m officially allowed to mourn, but that doesn’t mean I won’t mourn his passing anyway. I first came to American Splendor too early—when I started reading Love and Rockets and Cerebus in 1993—and then too late—after the release of the film American Splendor in 2003—so while I understood it, I never truly “got” his appeal. I appreciated his ear for language, but as a teenager thought what it captured unworthy of print, and as a literary scholar had encountered many similarly talented ears and was, therefore, less impressed by it than I should have been. But when I read the news of his passing earlier today, I realized something:

I knew Harvey Pekar.

I didn’t know him know him, but like all of his readers, I knew him as well as you know me. Pekar was a proto-blogger, if you will, because he turned his life into something worthy of public consumption. Our Cancer Year is a grueling read not because all cancer entails struggle, but because the patient stricken with it is someone whose failed dreams, stunted career, and intimate thoughts are familiar to us. We may not have known Harvey Pekar, but we knew “Harvey Pekar,” and unlike artists for whom the distance between characters and self is meticulously kept, in this case it really is just a matter of quotation marks.

Rest in peace, Harvey. Lord knows you deserve some.

And in the First Season, that Country Didn’t Even Exist…

[ 11 ] July 12, 2010 |

This is nothing short of genius:

But then there are some shows that go completely beyond the pale of enjoyability, until they become nothing more than overwritten collections of tropes impossible to watch without groaning.

I think the worst offender here is the History Channel and all their programs on the so-called “World War II”.

Let’s start with the bad guys. Battalions of stormtroopers dressed in all black, check. Secret police, check. Determination to brutally kill everyone who doesn’t look like them, check. Leader with a tiny villain mustache and a tendency to go into apopleptic rage when he doesn’t get his way, check. All this from a country that was ordinary, believable, and dare I say it sometimes even sympathetic in previous seasons.

I wouldn’t even mind the lack of originality if they weren’t so heavy-handed about it. Apparently we’re supposed to believe that in the middle of the war the Germans attacked their allies the Russians, starting an unwinnable conflict on two fronts, just to show how sneaky and untrustworthy they could be? And that they diverted all their resources to use in making ever bigger and scarier death camps, even in the middle of a huge war? Real people just aren’t that evil. And that’s not even counting the part where as soon as the plot requires it, they instantly forget about all the racism nonsense and become best buddies with the definitely non-Aryan Japanese.

Not that the good guys are much better. Their leader, Churchill, appeared in a grand total of one episode before, where he was a bumbling general who suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Ottomans of all people in the Battle of Gallipoli. Now, all of a sudden, he’s not only Prime Minister, he’s not only a brilliant military commander, he’s not only the greatest orator of the twentieth century who can convince the British to keep going against all odds, he’s also a natural wit who is able to pull out hilarious one-liners practically on demand. I know he’s supposed to be the hero, but it’s not realistic unless you keep the guy at least vaguely human.

Read the rest x4.

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