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More on Axe

[ 59 ] February 12, 2008 |

Following up on D, Axe has perhaps taken it to a new misogynistic low with their newest add (and here you didn’t think they could go any lower). Behold:

As Jezebel says, the ad “stinks worse than their crappy cologne.” Anyone else think Barack Obama could sue for defamation simply because the company implies that he wears the stuff? Apparently McCain could too.

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It’s The Media

[ 0 ] February 12, 2008 |

I agree with my colleagues about Krugman’s latest column, which is really unworthy of him. To add one more point, it should be noted that Krugman adduces exactly two pieces of evidence for his claims that Obama’s supporters are unfairly savaging Clinton. The first is about criticisms of Clinton’s LBJ comments. These criticisms were, I agree, stupid — sort of like Clinton’s surrogates bringing up Obama’s brief use of drugs as a young man — but 1)Krugman supplies no evidence that they’re “venomous,” and 2)the most prominent advancer of this argument was the New York Times op-ed page, a supporter of…Hillary Clinton. The second data point is the comments of David Shuster, which were indefensible but again I’d like to see some evidence that Shuster is an Obama supporter per se. And this is what’s so frustrating about Krugman’s column. It’s great to see someone in his position calling out the Whitewater non-scandal and the media’s treatment of Gore, but Krugman completely buries his very legitimate points about the media’s treatment of the Clintons by shoehorning it into his anti-Obama jihad, where it simply doesn’t belong. I’m sure there are isolated incidents of Obama supporters indulging in sexist attacks on Clinton, but I see no evidence that Obama’s Democratic supporters — as opposed to various media hacks — are generally playing by the “Clinton rules,” and Krugman certainly doesn’t supply any. And the fact that even his random anecdotes don’t actually support his position pretty strongly suggests that his central claim is false.

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Missing the Forest for the Trees

[ 19 ] February 12, 2008 |

The wingnutty among us are about to go into a frenzy over the fact that a group of volunteers opening an Obama office in Texas (in preparation for actual Obama staffers, who will arrive later this week) placed a Cuban flag with a picture of Che Guevara on the office wall. While considering this crime against humanity, it’s probably useful to recount the following planks of the platform of the Texas State Republican Party:

  • The Party calls for the United States monetary system to be returned to the gold standard. Since the Federal Reserve System is a private corporation, has no reserves, and is not subject to taxation or audit, we call on Congress to abolish this institution and reassume its authority, enumerated by Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, for the coinage of money.
  • The party opposes the decriminalization of sodomy….We publicly rebuke judges Chief Justice Murphy and John Anderson, who ruled that the 100 year-old Texas sodomy law is unconstitutional, and ask that all members of the Republican Party of Texas oppose their re-election.
  • We urge that the IRS be abolished and the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution be repealed. A constitutional tax, collected and controlled by the States, must generate sufficient revenue for the legitimate tasks of the national government.
  • The Party believes the minimum wage law should be repealed.
  • The Party believes it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in, as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations.
  • The Party urges Congress to support HJR 77, the Panama and America Security Act, which declare the Carter-Torrijos Treaty null and void. We support re-establishing United States control over the Canal in order to retain our military bases in Panama, to preserve our right to transit through the Canal, and to prevent the establishment of Chinese missile bases in Panama.

Ask not for whom the batshit crazy in Texas vote; they cast for thee, not me.

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The Axe Generation

[ 39 ] February 12, 2008 |

I have little to add to this open letter from the Angry Professor to her male students:

Sexy television commercials notwithstanding, Axe body spray does not make you smell irresistible. On the contrary, it makes you smell like rubbing alcohol and pickle juice. Hot chicks would prefer it if you smelled like soap, and you can smell like this simply by taking a shower every morning.

The only thing Axe body spray might be good for is masking the odor of your acne medication. Of course, you wouldn’t need quite so much acne medication if you smelled more like soap.

Oddly enough, I have come to learn that Axe once marketed a variety of the spray known as “Alaska”. I assume the scent was intended to evoke the place rather than the people, but Alaskans being a rough-hewn sort, “rubbing alcohol and pickle juice” wouldn’t actually be too far off the mark.

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Language Makes All the Difference…

[ 0 ] February 12, 2008 |

Eva Destruction at Bluegrass Roots makes a great catch. The Louisville Courier Journal:

State Rep. Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Spring, said ultrasound technology produces images that women should be allowed to see before they terminate pregnancies.

Westwood showed fellow lawmakers images of an unborn baby at 10 weeks gestation, one showing a baby’s tiny foot and toes.

“The idea is that what is inside this woman is not a mass of tissue, but, in fact, is a live baby,” said Westwood, sponsor of the legislation that has drawn vocal opposition from abortion rights supporters.

And the bill:

Amend KRS 311.720 to redefine “abortion” and to add definitions of “reasonable judgment,” “unborn child,” and “woman”; create a new section of KRS 311.710 to 311.820 to require physician to perform an obstetric ultrasound and show images to the woman seeking an abortion; create a new section of KRS 311.710 to 311.820 to provide for an exemption to the ultrasound in case of an emergency and require placing the reason for the emergency in medical records; amend KRS 311.990 relating to penalties to provide a fine of not more than $100,000 for a first offense and not more than $250,000 for each subsequent offense and provide for referring incident to Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure for action and discipline.


The bill doesn’t allow for squat. Because women are already allowed to view their ultrasounds if they wish to do so. This bill is not about allowing. It’s about forcing and punishing and slut-shaming.

Indeed; a golden moment for local journalism. Then again, it wouldn’t really be that out of place in the Washington Post.

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[ 35 ] February 12, 2008 |

As bean notes, Hilzoy has a good response to Krugman

I have no doubt that most of the venom that Krugman sees comes from Obama supporters. He has, after all, been on an anti-Obama tear for several months now. But he is an economist, and economists should know enough about basic social science techniques to be able to ask: am I working from a genuinely random sample? In the case of, say, Krugman’s email, the answer would have to be: no.

…but then Melissa wrote

Someone has also emailed me private accounts of older female Hillary supporters who reported being intimidated, shouted down, and outright bullied by younger male Obama supporters while caucusing. (Shades of the virtual world, in which female Hillary supporters have been effectively run out of dKos.) There were also reports of male McCain supporters who showed up claiming the specific purpose of intimidating female Hillary supporters.

(And why not? When everyone’s free to take shots at Hillary without serious consequence, it doesn’t exactly send the message that anyone will care if her supporters are treated as fair game for sexist bullying, too.)

Put this in the context of the series of posts Kate and I have written recently, along with the associated comments threads and women bloggers who have linked approvingly to those posts, all of which speak to the very real, if near-totally ignored, phenomenon of women who are hesitant for various reasons to openly support Hillary, and the reality of caucuses requiring public support that the privacy of a voting booth does not—and only someone deeply engaged in willful ignorance could deny that sexism is playing some role in Obama’s caucus wins.

…which seems to me to be relevant to the question. At first I had Hilzoy’s reaction to Krugman’s column, which was that he was making an unwarranted generalization based on his own experience. I’ve also been wandering the comment threads at TalkLeft lately, which have their own share of venomous, unfair attacks on Obama. But after thinking and talking about it, I’m not so sure.

To start off with, this conversation concerns only intra-left attacks; Clinton clearly receives more venom from the right (and from the Chris Matthews-esque center) than Obama has ever received. Even on the left, though, I think that Krugman is partially correct; the problem is that I would categorize many of the venomous attacks on Clinton as “fair”, which makes me forget that they are, in fact, quite venomous. To be a bit more clear on that, I don’t fully agree with attacks on Clinton that are based on her pro-Iraq War vote, and I certainly don’t draw the conclusion that the vote is sufficient reason to vote against Clinton, but I do think that it’s a “fair” line of attack. As such, I tend to discount their venom. There really isn’t anything comparable on the other side, if only because Obama’s record is too short to inspire anger on the scale of Clinton’s war vote (or even elements of her husband’s presidency).

But of course “fair” and “unfair” are in the eye of the beholder, and in any case in an angry comment thread they tend to blend together pretty quickly, such that supporters (especially women) of Clinton seem to get subjected to much nastier attacks than supporters of Obama. As anyone who has paid attention to this blog must know, several recent comment threads have degenerated into nasty, venomous attacks (often launched by myself) against Clinton supporters and “apologists”. Again, I think that these attacks (the bulk of which have revolved around the delegate seating question) are “fair”, but it’s undeniable that more venom has been poured forth against Clinton than against Obama, or that a substantial portion of this venom has little to do with policy differences between the candidates.

But of course this only goes so far, and it doesn’t go as far as Krugman is suggesting. Rather, like Hilzoy argues, I think we’re far, far short of a civil war. I know that I’ll be happy to vote for Clinton in the general election (in fact, I preferred her to Edwards) if it comes to that, and I think that for a variety of reasons that most potential Democratic voters feel the same way. Of course, things could change over the next four months; it could get much nastier than it is right now, especially if the convention leaves one side or the other believing that they’ve been unfairly treated. But I’d say that it’s quite premature to suggest that the debate is going to be dangerous in an electoral sense.

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On Krugman

[ 27 ] February 11, 2008 |

What hilzoy said.

What is up with Paul Krugman? It’s not even just that he has some sort of middle school personal nit to pick with Barack Obama. It’s that…aren’t there more important things for him to be talking about right now? And, even if there weren’t, does he (or any Hillary Clinton supporter, really) want to get into a tit-for-tat in terms of whose campaign and proxies have been meaner? I think not.

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Worst American Birthdays, Vol. 41

[ 17 ] February 11, 2008 |

Nearly 200 years ago, on 11 February 1812, free white child named Alexander Hamilton Stephens was born on a nondescript Georgia farm.

He was a frail, sickly boy whose weight never exceeded a hundred pounds, even as an adult. Born into slavery, a child like Stephens would have spent his life dropping seeds and gathering manure chips; as a part of the master race, however, even a common farmer’s son might look forward to a world beyond the cornrows. Stephens’ knowledge of the Bible — a book from which slavery’s advocates would draw affirmation and reassurance — earned him a scholarship to the University of Georgia, where he studied until his graduation in 1832.

After a successful career as a lawyer, Stephens served his white Georgian brethren as a member of the US House of Representatives from 1843 to 1859. A Whig by party affiliation, Stephens’ tenure in the Congress coincided with one of the most ferocious periods of American political history. In the wake of the Mexican War (which Stephens opposed along with most of his fellow Whigs), both major parties were eventually torn in half over the question of extending slavery into the new territories. Stephens, who by this point owned more than two dozen men and women, supported the rights of slaveholders to bring their property anywhere in the United States. Thus, he supported most of the 1850 compromise, which opened most of the western territories to slavery; he voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which overturned the Missouri Compromise and turned the region into a gangland; and he celebrated the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which asserted that the Federal government could do nothing (short of a Constitutional amendment) to interfere with slavery.

Satisfied that white rights to human property had been secured forever, Stephens retired from the Senate in 1859. When Lincoln swept the free states in 1860 and won the presidency for the Republican party, Stephens — returning quickly to public life — failed to persuade most of his peers in Georgia from breaking away from the Union; unable to steer the hard core secessionists away from the cliff, he nevertheless decided to join them. On his 49th birthday, Alexander Stephens took the oath of office as the Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

A little over a month later, Stephens delivered an address in Savannah that came to be known as the “Cornerstone Speech.” Enumerating the differences between the confederacy and the United States, the Confederate vice president announced that the nation’s founders had been wrong to view slavery as a “necessary evil” and that believers in unversal human equality were mistaken. Instead, Stephens explained that black inferiority and subordination were merely the expression of a “great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” The Confederacy, therefore, lay closer to nature than any government in human history.

With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material — the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made “one star to differ from another star in glory.” The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws. This stone which was rejected by the first builders “is become the chief of the corner” — the real “corner-stone” — in our new edifice.

Though Stephens could not imagine any outcome but Southern victory, the Confederacy was obliterated within four years. After spending five months in prison, Stephens resumed his political career. In 1873, he returned to the Congress as a Democrat and served for nearly ten years in the House before ending his life with a brief stint in the Georgia governor’s office.

Although the cornerstone of Stephens’ ideal republic did not survive in the form of the Confederacy, he would have been pleased to know that within a decade after his passing, the principle of “negro” subordination had been reasserted throughout the land.

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Wooden Puppet

[ 0 ] February 11, 2008 |

Good to see the fine folks in Tuscaloosa grasp what the Washington Post was unable to:

Michael Mukasey may have a distinguished career as a judge but as U.S. attorney general, he’s a loser. For all the interest he has shown in the duties of his new office, we may as well have a smiling wooden puppet seated in his chair.

Make that a partisan puppet. By his studied inattention to issues that might embarrass the Republican Party, Mukasey has made it abundantly clear that President Bush pulls his strings.

He has dodged questions on torture techniques advocated by Bush and Vice President Cheney; balked at acting on the firings of U.S. attorneys that led to his predecessor’s sacking; and dragged his heels on investigating the destruction of damning videotapes by the CIA.

His failure to look into an allegation that partisan political interests guided the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is part of this dereliction of duty. Although he told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that it is inappropriate for politicians to try to influence criminal prosecutions, Mukasey admitted under questioning by Rep. Artur Davis that he has not looked into the Siegelman case allegation. He should. It is a serious charge that demands attention. An Alabama lawyer said in a sworn statement that she heard fellow Republicans discuss White House involvement in pursuing Siegelman’s prosecution. The officials she named have denied the charges, as have federal prosecutors in the case.

Obviously, this is an editorial board that needs 48 hours of immersion in High Contrarianism, stat. Don’t they know that the immense amount of leverage Congress will wield over Mukasey will force him to come clean and pursue ambitious reform projects?

Via Scott Horton, whose article about evidence regarding White House-coordinated selective prosecution in Alabama is very much worth reading.

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The Rumor Mill

[ 108 ] February 11, 2008 |

After David Freddoso raised the alarm earlier today about “new” cases of leprosy in Arkansas, Mark Krikorian quickly lept in to tease out the proper lesson and offer a meaningless gesture of piety:

[T]he appearance of leprosy [in Arkansas] is not because of L’il [sic] Abner and Daisy Mae: “It’s from the Marshall islands; that’s why we’re seeing it,” according to a local doctor. See, Springdale, Ark., has the largest population of Marshallese outside their home islands, brought to America to pluck chickens for Tyson Foods. Oh, this too: “Springdale is also reporting over 100 cases of tuberculosis.”

Any discussion of immigration and disease is potentially inflammatory and needs to be careful and sober. But that doesn’t mean you can simply avert your eyes, which is what we’ve been doing for too long.

What Krikorian means, I’m sure, is that “careful and sober” discussion merely requires that one of the discussants asks that the conversation be “careful and sober.” Here, for instance, are the “careful and sober” words of the physician and political candidate who squealed about the alleged outbreak.

[Dr. Jennifer] Bingham says without cooperation, leprosy, which has no vaccine, and is transmitted through the air, will spread, and could easily become an epidemic. “People absolutely should be concerned. What I’m afraid of, is when people start thinking about it enough, it will already be out of control.”

So now, Bingham, and others like Mayoral candidate Nancy Jenkins, say government help is the next step. Jenkins says she’s angered the federal government has been so lax with border patrol. She says, “We’ve just opened the borders and said, ‘Come on in! Bring your diseases! Bring ‘em!’ Why are we doing that? Those who have it need to be quarantined and treated, or sent back to their country.”

Dr. Bingham is requesting the public take action, and write everyone from legislators, and presidential candidates, to Congress, and the Health Department. She says, “the only way to truly protect our community and our economic growth, is to think of this as a very important, panic-mode attempt to treat leprosy: before it gets out of hand.”

The original story — from which that passage was drawn — has been removed from the KFSM website, prompting all sorts of “careful and sober” speculation about government coverups. As for the heavyweights at The Corner, we might note that actual sobriety and care might have included a quick trip to Google, where Freddoso or Krikorian would have discovered that the original story had been declared complete bullshit a full two days earlier. Whoops!

The Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock says some Northwest Arkansas doctors have wrong information that’s leading them to fears of leprosy cases.

The health department tells 5News because leprosy is such a rare disease, some Arkansas doctors often don’t have the most up-to-date information on it.

The health department says some doctors have incorrect information to begin with.

Thursday, Springdale Doctor Jennifer Bingham told 5News there were nine cases of leprosy in the Springdale Marshallese population.

Those cases are not new. In fact, the health department has been tracking them for the last two to three years.

Dr. Bingham contends people should be very concerned about contracting the disease. But the Arkansas Department of Health says: not true.

Officials argue there should be no cause for concern about a leprosy outrbreak or epidemic in Northwest Arkansas.

Dr. James Phillips, an infectious disease expert with the Arkansas Department of Health, says only five percent of the population is susceptible to the disease. He says leprosy is not as contagious as a lot of people think it is.

Oh, well. Perhaps Freddoso and Krikorian will warn us next about the swarms of bedbugs and head lice that David Duke’s people have been investigating this month.

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Count The Votes Until Our Frontrunner Is Ahead

[ 0 ] February 11, 2008 |

Via Matt W., the fact that the GOP has “progressed from 2000 where they refused to count Democratic votes, to 2008 where they are now refusing to count their own votes” is indeed very amusing. It’s bizarre for a party to just announce a winner in a close race before counting every vote, and you also have to think that a court inquiry embarrassingly revealing and overturning a trumped-up Potemkin 25.5% “victory” would be far more damaging to McCain that just straightforwardly losing the WA primary in the first place.

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The Non-Shakeup Shakeup

[ 9 ] February 11, 2008 |

So, Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, is out. She’s being replaced by longtime Clinton advisor Maggie Williams.

The Clinton camp insists that this is no nervous nellie shakeup. No, no, no signs of trouble in that campaign. Certainly, Clinton has got to be unhappy with last night’s results. But she’s still got the delegate lead. Still, losing her campaign manager (or loosing her) is not going to project an image of confidence in the way things are going.

Meanwhile, Obama took Maine, making this weekend a clean sweep. Back in October, polls showed that Mainers preferred Clinton by a 57-10 margin. Not anymore. On to “Chesapeake Tuesday.”

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