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[ 15 ] November 28, 2007 |

Bartleby (also featured here) passed away on Monday. From his caregivers:

Our crazy, sometimes malicious, but still lovable cat Bartleby died last night. The vet said he had an aortic thromboembolism, and heart failure due to a genetic condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It was very sudden and unexpected. Bartleby had shown no symptoms until last night, having been an avid jumper/runner/hunter right through Sunday night.

Whatever his anger issues, he was a beautiful and active cat.

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Sorry, But…

[ 48 ] November 28, 2007 |

Do They Know They Celebrate Christmas In Warmer Climes At All?

Roger claims that Wham!’s “Last Christmas” is indisputably the worst Christmas song ever. Now, it’s certainly awful. But its awfulness cannot hold a candle to “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” an exceptionally lame song sung by mostly third-rate British pop stars that is also an unfortunate combination of self-congratulatory charity project and egregious racist condescension. Really, it begins and ends any such discussion. Indeed, it’s so bad that even the Canadian analogue (though not a Christmas song) is much better, if only on the strength of Gordon Lightfoot’s shades and Neil Young’s sideburns…

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If you’re not with us….

[ 37 ] November 28, 2007 |

So it appears Atlas ran out of quaaludes and orange juice today:

Bush has lost his mind and his moral compass. This statement is an outrage. A lie and a blood libel. Israel has never committed any acts of terrorism. What a tool of Islamic jihad. Based on that, Bush is a terrorist, anyone that defends himself, his family, his country is a terrorist.

Jeepers. I’d hate to imagine how she’d respond if the Bush administration were genuinely interested in a settlement that came anywhere close the international consensus on resolving the 40-year occupation. It’s almost as if the past seven years — during which the US did utterly nothing to discourage Israel’s brutal reassertions in the West Bank, its conversion of Gaza into the world’s largest open-air prison, or its self-defeating war in Lebanon — hadn’t actually happened.

Where’s the gratitude, for chrissakes? After all, by allowing the peace process to founder since 2001, the Bush administration passively (and I’m being generous with that word) abetted a Palestinian civil war that likely only to worsen in the aftermath of all this, whether or not any viable deal is reached next year. And by fouling up two wars in the region, this same administration cleared the way for Iran’s re-emergence as the region’s great boogeyman, a role that assured more than anything that this “meeting” in Annapolis would happen in the first place — all while giving dead-end zealots like Frank Gaffney all the cause they need to shriek about Israel’s impending destruction.

Really, what more do these people want?

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Channel 122 On Your Dial!

[ 6 ] November 28, 2007 |

I’m not sure whether to be happy that the Flames are on national TV (well, quasi-national) tonight, or dismayed that hockey fans across the country will see them get destroyed by the Red Wings again…

In other news, apparently Dennis Miller has a new show that involves recycling lame Britney Spears jokes and applying them to sports. I’m sure he’s on Versus because of the same Hollywood blacklist that pretty much stopped Roger L. Simon from getting work several years before he came out as a reactionary…

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Paul and Abortion

[ 31 ] November 27, 2007 |

Ramesh Ponnuru makes an interesting point about Ron Paul: “What strikes me is what a throwback Paul is among libertarians. Hard money and anti-interventionism move him, but he seems utterly uninterested in the lifestyle questions that have taken up so much of Reason for the past decade.” Indeed, he’s not merely indifferent to all such questions but in fact is a proponent of using state coercion to force women to carry pregnancies of term. Gillespie and Welch try to get around this by using the classic federalism dodge, asserting that Paul “nonetheless believes that federal bans violate the more basic principle of delegating powers to the states.”

As Ponnuru also notes, however, this won’t wash because he voted for the federal “partial birth” abortion ban. Moreover, from a libertarian perspective the “partial birth” ban is, if anything, less defensible than voting for a total ban. Libertarians could in theory justify a ban because most would see the protection of human life as a legitimate use of state power (although in practice criminalization does very little to actually protect fetal life, and Paul’s libertarian positions on other issues would almost certainly increase abortion rates by a massive extent.) The ban Paul voted for, conversely, does nothing to protect fetal life, but simply tries to force doctors to perform abortions using less safe methods in some cases. Even on its face, therefore, such legislation is about regulating female sexuality and punishing women for making choices the state doesn’t approve of, which is as inconsistent with any coherent set of libertarian principles as it is with “states’ rights.” Paul is more consistent than most Republican-affiliated “libertarians” — he’s not willing to make up ridiculous arguments in favor of the Iraq War, for example — but his libertarianism doesn’t seem to apply to these kinds of issues of individual freedom.

The lesson here is the obvious one: like libertarians, people willing to forego strongly-held substantive preferences in the name of federalism “are as rare as pieces of the True Cross.” And when almost anybody tells you that by advocating the overturn of Roe they want to “send the issue back to the states,” they’re almost certainly lying.

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Unintended Consequences

[ 25 ] November 27, 2007 |

Partly because I think you should stick by your predictions as long as they’re still plausible, I still think that Mitt Romney has to be considered the favorite to win the GOP nomination. Matt, however, makes an interesting point about the biggest impediment Romney faces: the possibility that Huckabee will win in Iowa. Assuming (and I think this is right) that Huckabee has enough support to win Iowa but lacks the resources to be competitive in the front-loaded primaries even if he wins, the irony is that the most social conservative major candidate could hand the Republican nomination to the candidate least congenial to social conservatives. Although it’s conceivable that Romney could survive a loss in Iowa, it would be hard to argue that he should be favored over Giuliani if it happens.

Of course, this kind of strange scenario is that result of the fact that there is a prominent hawkish social conservative in the race — who’s uncompetitive largely because of his personal conflicts with social conservative leaders. Between McCain being DOA and the late-entering plain vanilla southern conservative seemingly emulating Wesley Clark’s 2004 campaign we have the current situation in which nobody seems logically capable of winning the Republican nomination. In that context, I still think Romney is the least illogical possibility.

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Most Hyperbolic Three Paragraphs Ever

[ 18 ] November 27, 2007 |

I stand in awe:

It is fitting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chose the U.S. Naval Academy for the venue of today’s so-called Mideast peace conference. The reputation of that extraordinary institution in Annapolis has been sullied in recent years by a succession of rapes of young women.

Despite official efforts to low-ball its significance, Miss Rice’s conclave is shaping up to be a gang-rape of a nation on a scale not seen since Munich in 1938, when the British and French allowed Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini to have their violent way with Czechoslovakia.

This time, the intended victim is Israel. As with the effort to appease the Nazis and Fascists nearly 70 years ago, however, the damage will not be confined to the rapee. The interests of the Free World in general and the United States in particular will suffer from what the Saudis and most of the other attendees have in mind for the Jewish State — namely, its dismemberment and ultimate destruction.

Frank Gaffney has utterly destroyed Godwin’s Law. Future generations will have to use “Gaffney’s Law”, in which Hitler, Mussolini, the gang rape of United States Navy Academy cadets, and the destruction of Israel will all have to be mentioned in order to achieve the level of “inflammatory rhetoric”.

I do hope that at least someone will note that the unruliest of the unruly in the Netroots have only rarely accused Condoleeza Rice of gang rape…

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Fake Libertarians

[ 17 ] November 27, 2007 |

D-squared on conservertarians:

They’re always hacks, Brad. Always. Yes even Milton Friedman. The more independent-minded ones will occasionally come up with a liberalish or fair-minded idea or two, but this is purely for display, not for ever doing anything about if to do so would run the risk of a higher rate of capital gains tax. The ideological core of Chicago-style libertarianism has two planks.

1. Vote Republican.
2. That’s it.

The Iraq War has obviously been useful in exposing bullshit libertarians. It becomes comical to assert that the state cannot be trusted to administer a pension plan it has successfully administered with low overhead for many decades, but can be trusted at a massive expense of lives and money to create a liberal democracy ex nihilo in a country whose prior insitutional arrangements were exceptionally inhospitable to the new form. I’m reminded of my favorite recent example, Randy Barnett. What’s especially rich is that you may recall Barnett questioned whether the state would be necessary to enforce contracts — but deposing a regime that posed no significant threat to the United States in order to pursue an exceptionally ambitious, quarter-assed social transformation scheme that will magically supply a security justification to the war is perfectly OK! And war against nation X is justifiable if stateless Islamic terrorists with no connection to secular state X come from the same region, because the miraculous, very consistent with libertarian premises transformation of secular state X will produce even more miraculous transformations in Islamic states Y and Z, through causal relationships better left unspecified! It all makes perfect sense! As d-squared concludes in re: Milton Friedman:

Why are American liberals so damnably obsessed with extending intellectual charity to right wing hacks which is never reciprocated? It reaches parodic form in the case of those tiresome “centrists” who left wing American bloggers are always playing the Lucy-holds-the-football game with. Oh, but their politics are sooo centrist! They’re practically 50% of the way between Republicans and Democrats! Yeah, specifically they’re right-wing Democrats in non-election years and party line Republicans any time it might conceivably matter (note that here, two years after the White House ceremony at which Friedman apparently “spent most of his 90th birthday lunch telling Bush that his fiscal policy was a disaster”, here he is signing a letter in support of more of the same).

I wouldn’t mind, but it’s clearly not intellectual honesty that makes American liberals act pretend that Milton Friedman wasn’t a party line Republican hack (which he was; he was also an excellent economist, which is why he won the Nobel Prize for Economics, not the Nobel Prize for Making A Sincere and Productive Contribution To The National Political Debate, which he would not have won if there was one).

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[ 2 ] November 27, 2007 |

Rob has already mentioned the untimely passing of Sean Taylor; hopefully those who shot him will be brought to justice. And although he’s a less prominent athlete, I should also note the death of Joe Kennedy. Most baseball fans have some sore-armed veteran trying to gut out a career that the root for, and Kennedy was always one of mine. Although I watch most games from the cheap seats, once or twice a year I would buy a really nice ticket, and in 2002 it happens that I saw a fantastic pitcher’s duel between Kennedy and Jamie Moyer from right behind home plate. Kennedy won 1-0 with a 4-hitter, and his stuff was very impressive (although admittedly pitching against Moyer probably makes your heater look better.) He was never the same after he hurt his arm the next year, but I always hoped he’d figure something out and stay in the league. R.I.P.

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Following the News…

[ 14 ] November 27, 2007 |

Yglesias writes, in reference to the death of Sean Taylor:

It’s best to follow actual news stories on actual news sites

At the risk of using the tragedy of Taylor’s death to discuss a meta-blogging issue, this position on the news seems to be a massive point of divergence between left and right blogistan. The most useless type of post in all the blogosphere is the “why aren’t leftist bloggers writing about this important issue?”; here’s an example from Michael Goldfarb (whose work I generally like) regarding Burma. Part of the answer is that lefty bloggers don’t have the same fantasies about policy relevance that right wing bloggers do; we figure that since there’s not terribly much that the US government can do about Burma, we’re likely to be even less effectual. I think that we also have a certain degree of respect for our readers, in that we expect that people will know without being told that the government of Burma is bad. Note to Ace of Spades; blathering endlessly about a course of events that you can’t possibly affect, then denouncing others for insufficient blather of their own, is rather the definition of “preening in righteous indignation.”

I think, though, that the biggest reason there’s such a divergence is that lefty bloggers don’t imagine themselves as a replacement for the news media at large. While we complain relentlessly about the failures of the MSM, we also recognize that organizations like the NYT have access to resources we don’t in places we don’t, and can usually be relied on for at least a basic narrative of events. We supply commentary, color, and critique, but our role is essentially complementary. I don’t think that this understanding holds in right blogistan; if it’s not featured at Red State, Instapundit, or Captain Ed, then it probably never happened. Of course, this probably goes a very, very long way towards explaining why conservatives tend to have such a poor grasp of basic current events; when Fox News is literally the best that you’ve got, there’s bound to be a substantial gap between perception and reality.

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Taking Back Marriage

[ 65 ] November 27, 2007 |

People are talking about Stephanie Coontz‘s NY Times Opinion column today, in which she advocates that we take back marriage from the control of the states. Here’s the nub of Coontz’s argument:

Perhaps it’s time to revert to a much older marital tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit.” But let couples — gay or straight — decide if they want the legal protections and obligations of a committed relationship.

I am with her 100%. When I suggested as much in my property class during my first year of law school, during a discussion of marital assets, people were shocked and appalled by the idea that marriage should be a religious institution and the state should be in the business only of civil unions for all couples, gay or straight. I would like to think that Coontz’s piece is a sign that notions are changing. But then again, that law school discussion was only two years ago.

I also have to say that as much as I support Coontz’s marriage proposal (pun intended), there is something about her historical framing of it that makes me a little uncomfortable. Yes, one strong thing going for the so-called privatization of marriage is the practice’s historical roots. That said, I think we need to be careful not to idealize the marriage of the past, in which women were property and a marriage was a business arrangement. Coontz is completely right to suggest that the state is not the appropriate purveyor of “marriage”; the state should recognize civil not religious unions. But I think we can advocate for this shift without recalling the marriage misogyny of days gone by. It continues strongly enough today as it is.

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Oh, to be A Fly on the Wall

[ 7 ] November 27, 2007 |

Anyone else think from this photo that perhaps the meeting on the environment didn’t go so well?

Related story here. It’s worth noting that Bush didn’t host Gore by choice — the get-together was part of an annual photo op of the president with the Nobel Prize winners.

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