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Immigration Politics

[ 76 ] November 18, 2014 |

I tend to agree with Marshall here–there is very little downside to Obama acting unilaterally on immigration. There’s tons of precedent for such a move, including by St. Ronnie on immigration itself. Any subsequent president can undo such an executive action. So if the Republicans are actually going to impeach him for it, which I don’t think they will, they don’t have much of a leg to stand on, even for them. More importantly, the politics going forward on this are very much in the Democratic Party’s favor. The anti-immigrant people are already voting and they are voting Republican. Obama’s actions would likely have little concrete negative reaction for Democrats in 2016 since the people who would be angry about it are already a highly motivated voting bloc. But effectively declaring the end of most deportations forces Republicans to run for deportations, creating real difference between the two parties on the issue and likely vastly increasing Latino turnout in 2016 since it will be so clear which party more stands with them. Republicans have to do something because they’ve campaigned on it, but fighting it exposes their racism to the populace.

This is one of those situations where Obama acting would be morally correct and politically savvy.

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Control Your Arms!

[ 2 ] November 18, 2014 |

My latest at the National Interest listicles up the history of arms control:

We’ve been taught to expect that nations will seek to defend themselves through every measure available to them. International law has rarely offered significant protection to the weak, and multilateral efforts at controlling how states develop, spread and amass weapons have regularly been met with scorn and derision.

But sometimes states come together, and for one reason or another agree to give up their rights to unilaterally build up arms. Many arms-control arrangements have failed; some have succeeded, and in many cases the story is mixed. This article takes a look at the five most important arms-control agreements of the 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on how they changed the behavior of governments and the conduct of war.

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Cruz ’16!

[ 17 ] November 18, 2014 |

Ted Cruz is writing some great attack ads for his opponents in 2016.

“Ted Cruz: He wants to double the cost of your internet access.”

Now that’s a surefire path to the presidency!

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Occasions When It Is Appropriate to Wear a Shirt with Naked Women on It

[ 203 ] November 17, 2014 |


  1. You are attending a show celebrating pin-up art.
  2. You are in your basement playing pool.
  3. You have recently become a porn director.
  4. You have recently become a porn actor.
  5. You are the owner of a bakery that specializes in erotic cakes.
  6. You are invited to a tacky Hawaiian shirt party which will culminate in a contest to see who has the tackiest tacky Hawaiian shirt and you are not going to let Steve win again.
  7. You are naked, masturbating to that Woman’s Day magazine with Bonnie Hunt on the cover again and your friend calls and says he is standing outside your house and someone has rudely set him on fire–could you please come and pour some water on him? Not having time to plan your fire-fighting outfit, you grab the nearest articles of clothing…which just happen to be jeans and a shirt with naked ladies on it.

Any questions?

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Hacktacular! #GruberGate Edition

[ 20 ] November 17, 2014 |

A former Bush factorum has some policy arguments about the ACA, which I’m sure are being offered in good faith and are not at all opportunistic:

Jonathan Gruber’s candid video commentaries have unleashed the latest in a never-ending round of conservative denunciations of Obamacare, the evilest, sneakiest, failing-est, and most unconstitutional assault of freedom ever. Getting in his licks today is Tevi Troy, former Bush administration health official, who takes to the Wall Street Journal editorial page to denounce Obamacare’s “Cadillac tax.” This insidious levy, writes Troy, has a “creeping reach” and a “deceptive design.”

What kind of monster could favor any kind of tax on particular employer-provided health insurance plans?

Troy’s column does not mention that the Cadillac tax — or, usually, even more stringent versions of it — have been a mainstay of Republican health-care plans as well. As a presidential candidate in 2008, John McCain proposed not merely to cap the employer health-care deduction but to eliminate it entirely. (Obama attacked his plan as a tax hike.)

Troy’s op-ed also fails to mention that he himself used to oppose the tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance.

I could do without Gruber’s condescension myself, but when it comes to insulting people’s intelligence he’s got nothing on the parade of hacks attacking him.

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What Were You Linking?!

[ 150 ] November 17, 2014 |

Did you know that LGMer’s frequently email me with links they think I (or you, the readership) might find interesting? Well, they do. And I thank them for that.

  • tsam wants you to read about the KKK in Ferguson. Probably because he is a mean person who wants to ruin your lunch.
  • N_B wants you to look at this funny video about geek-gatekeeping. Probably because he is a  humorless, sex-negative, fatty-fat-fat feminist who is mean and likes to make out with this Andrea Dworkin body pillow.
  • Origami Isopod wants you to check out the abortion-positive 1 in 3 campaign. Probably because she is a mean feminist who has gotten pregnant 70 kajillion times just so she could infanticide all her precious snowflake babies. At the very least, she has probably written dinosaur erotica on the topic. “I Had Rex’s Dino-Baby Just So I Could Kill It.”
  • A tweep of my mine wants us to see how INCREDIBLY COOL these animatronic dinosaurs are. Probably because he is a nice guy who likes dinosaurs. AND ALSO ABORTING DINOSAUR BABIES.
  • I want you to read about #shirtgate because I don’t have time to write about it now. (I will soon.) Please start reading here and here. Uh, I think we all know why I want you to read that stuff. (HINT: I am mean.)


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I eagerly await Mary Rosh’s rebuttal

[ 75 ] November 17, 2014 |

Apparently, when you control for the crack-cocaine epidemic, it turns out the equation is “More Guns, More Crime.” 

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Won’t Someone Please Think of the People Who Selectively Pretend to Believe In the Sanctity of Marriage?

[ 37 ] November 17, 2014 |

Shorter Nicolas Sarkozy: Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman, and then another woman, and then another woman, and his women on the side. Surely we cannot let the gays ruin everything.

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When All You Have Is A Hammer…

[ 160 ] November 17, 2014 |

Joel Kotkin has an analysis of the midterms. You will be not surprised that it involves an imaginary progressive “war” on the suburbs, since for Kotkin everything is. You may have missed any such “war” during the midterm campaigns. But Kotkin is here to read between the lines for you:

As will become even more obvious in the lame duck years, the political obsessions of the Obama Democrats largely mirror those of the cities: climate change, gay marriage, feminism, amnesty for the undocumented, and racial redress. These may sometimes be worthy causes, but they don’t address basic issues that effect suburbanites, such as stagnant middle class wages, poor roads, high housing prices, or underperforming schools. None of these concerns elicit much passion among the party’s true believers.

When someone argues that stagnating wages and “underperforming schools” are inherently suburban issues irrelevant to urban dwellers, it’s a long-overdue hint that an article is not going to be worth your time.

…Kilgore has more.

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A Glimpse Into a Lost World

[ 16 ] November 17, 2014 |

In 1938, a couple of Jewish Americans went on vacation to Poland, where one of them was from. They made films of their trip. Some of them survived. Thanks to their grandson finding them and donating them to the Holocaust Museum, you can now watch 3 minutes of film of the Jewish section of Nasielsk, Poland just before World War II. Powerful, haunting stuff given what is about to happen there. Of the 3000 Jews who lived there in 1938, about 80 survived the war.

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This Seems Overdetermined

[ 52 ] November 17, 2014 |


I’m not sure why NoLabelsAmericansElectUnity’08 needs to parody itself; we’d be happy to do it for them:

Joe Lieberman, a former senator from Connecticut, has agreed to serve as the co-chairman for No Labels, a loosely codified set of vaguely defined sentiments organized to convince affluent donors to part with money. Lieberman takes over from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who up until last week was the man doing this thing, until he decided not to do it anymore.

In an announcement, Jon Huntsman, the other No Labels co-chair, former Utah governor and Dadaist candidate for president in 2012, said: “Joe was a proven leader and an undisputed problem solver in virtually every area of public policy when serving in the U.S. Senate … His vision of a new culture in Washington, D.C. — where the politics of point-scoring is replaced by the politics of problem solving — is a great fit with our organizational goals, and I look forward to collaborating with him as we develop our National Strategic Agenda.”

That Huntsman calls Lieberman an “undisputed problem solver” who is averse to the “politics of point scoring” indicates that today is the first day Huntsman met Lieberman.

“Joe will play a key role in attracting presidential hopefuls to our growing club of problem solvers,” Huntsman said.

No Labels’ club of “problem solvers” is interesting in that no club member is required to solve a problem. As Yahoo News’ Meredith Shiner reported in July, “The ‘Problem Solver Seals’ granted by No Labels to lawmakers require nothing of those members from a policy perspective, aside from agreeing to be part of No Labels, and to attend meetings with other No Labels members to discuss broad principles of bipartisanship.”

At least Erskine Bowles remains available for the next Politico Primary!

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Solving the Palm Oil Problem

[ 9 ] November 17, 2014 |

Palm oil is a very efficient way of producing cooking oil and is thus in high demand around the world. One huge problem is that it is turning the incredibly diverse rain forests of southeast Asia into a region-wide monoculture. Deforestation for palm oil plantations is a major problem. Luckily, this has led to significant criticism of the food industry. So many of the big palm oil producers have recently signed agreements to limit or eliminate deforestation in the production of palm oil.

That’s great, I guess. Certainly it’s better than nothing. However, I want to stress that just like agreements to improve labor conditions in southeast Asian sweatshops, there is very little incentive for companies to actually follow through. There is no stick to go along with that carrot. Without a way to enforce that agreement, you are relying on corporate beneficence. From the corporation’s perspective, they are waiting for attention to be drawn to something else. Without a way for people to sue or prosecute the companies over violating these agreements, the long-term benefit may well be negligible.

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