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Let’s Have a Toast for the Assholes

[ 204 ] July 14, 2015 |

202450945718635011UVLUNQuScAs we begin to delve through the details of the Iran deal, let’s have a toast for the lying douchebags who’ve been jabbering away for the past twenty years that Iran was 18 months away from a bomb. It’s almost as if all that bullshit made people think that a deal with a ten year sunset (followed by a resumption of normal IAEA monitoring procedures) might be a good idea.

Homer Simpson Is Real

[ 46 ] July 13, 2015 |

Found this in the archives today. It’s faint, but readable. And it shows that Homer Simpson is real and evidently worked in the Fermi reactor in Michigan during the 1960s.


Sorry for the large size, I wanted to make it as readable as possible.

Further documents suggest it was in fact a beer can.

Does Evangelicalism Have to Be Anti-Labor?

[ 30 ] July 13, 2015 |

No. Although I think the case is overstated here because while there are examples of evangelicals being pro-union during American history, by and large evangelicals have been anti-union a lot more than not.

Conservatives have had it up to here with novelists and their “revisionist fictions”

[ 202 ] July 13, 2015 |

I listen to a lot of stupid conversations every day, but this one — in which Harper Lee is chastised for traveling in time in order to pander to a post-Trayvon Martin, post-Michael Brown, post-Charleston conception of political correctness — may well be the most stupid one I’ve ever subjected myself to.

I’m actually not even sure if that’s what they were actually saying, but fortunately I can take comfort in the fact that they don’t really know either:

“I just don’t get it,” Doocy said, before asking Jackson why Lee would “would reveal that he’s not a hero at all, but a racist? Why the revisionist literature?”

“If you don’t get it,” Jackson replied, “you need to go to racial rehab. The idea of taking Atticus Finch, who was an iconic character and doing what I call ‘revisionist literature’ — because this is revisionist fiction, this isn’t even real.”

“It’s almost that they want to bring it into the forefront and take this guy that’s become and iconic hero of the Civil Rights Movement and make him a racist in the future now,” he added. “It fits a politically correct narrative of today.”

And somehow it even manages to get worse.

National Parks and Minorities

[ 102 ] July 13, 2015 |

Grand Teton National Park

Glenn Nelson challenges the National Park Service to do more to welcome minorities. He notes how very few visitors to national parks are people of color and the very strong disconnect between these central places in the American experience and minorities.

The place to start is the National Park Service. About 80 percent of park service employees in 2014 were white. The parks’ official charity, the National Park Foundation, has four minority members on its 22-person board.

Minorities did not exceed 16 percent of the boards or staffs of some 300 environmental organizations, foundations and government agencies included in a 2014 study for Green 2.0, an initiative dedicated to increasing racial diversity in such institutions. Minorities hold fewer than 12 percent of environmental leadership positions, and none led an organization with a budget of at least $1 million, the study found.

The National Park Service is the logical leader to blaze a trail to racial diversity in the natural world. It has a high public profile, and its approaching centennial can serve as a platform for redefinition.

But the agency has so far missed the opportunity. It doesn’t even know how many minorities visit the parks these days because it doesn’t routinely track such information. Its initial centennial-related campaign, Find Your Park, includes but doesn’t specifically target minorities and was delivered mainly to the already converted.

Efforts like handing park passes to fourth graders and their families, firing up Wi-Fi in visitor centers, and holding concerts on seashores or valley floors will similarly miss the mark. The park service should use its resources and partnerships to execute an all-out effort to promote diversity within its ranks and its parks. Its outreach should be tailored to minorities and delivered where they log in, follow, Tweet, view or listen. The park service needs to shout to minorities from its iconic mountaintops, “We want you here!”

There are good points here, but there are a couple of issues worth noting. First, the NPS has done a lot to include minority voices and perspectives in the parks. It has worked very hard on this, to the point where nearly every park has signage about minorities who lived there and points out a lot of the uncomfortable racial past of our history. But a lot of this takes place at the national historic parks, as opposed to the classical national parks that make up the jewels of the NPS. Nelson uses Mt. Rainier for an example. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the visitor center up there so I don’t know if it discusses how Native Americans thought about the mountain for instance. But even if it does, does that resonate with African-Americans in Seattle? No.

But the NPS does actively recruit minority populations and tries to get them into those parks. In 1999, I spent a long summer working at the Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta. Most of my co-workers were African-American. There was an effort within the NPS to get African-Americans out of just working the urban parks and, specifically in this case, to get them to apply to work at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. My coworkers were not having it. They simply had no interest in living in rural Kentucky around what they felt were hostile white people. And who could blame them? Nelson discusses this in his article and in the end, most of these park jewels in rural places are coded white in many ways. They are largely surrounded by white populations in the small towns around the parks. They were defined as sublime places by whites and preserved to serve white tourists. John Muir in Yosemite and the U.S. Army in Yellowstone fought to keep people of color from using these places in their traditional manner. Hiking and camping and climbing are almost exclusively white activities in our imaginations. Visits to national parks (or national forests or a lot of other nature-based activities–or even Cape Cod) means being surrounded almost exclusively with other white people. So there are a lot of issues here. And there’s no easy answer. It might be that the NPS more directly targeting minority populations would help, but Nelson’s ideas don’t exactly seem to be that well-developed. Tweeting isn’t going to make African-Americans more comfortable in small town Wyoming.

Unions and the Democratic Primary

[ 123 ] July 13, 2015 |


The outpouring of support for Bernie Sanders has included a lot of labor people. That has made labor executives worried. First, Richard Trumka reminded state federations and locals that they don’t have the right to endorse anyone. Then, the American Federation of Teachers came out and endorsed Hillary Clinton.

This doesn’t surprise me and is pretty unfortunate, but is understandable. Union leaders are a lot less interested in primary politics and supporting (likely) losing primary campaigns from the left than in creating solid support from the likely winner. They want to make sure they are close to President Hillary Clinton rather than primary runner-up Bernie Sanders. You might say that unions should be about democracy and their members should have the right to endorse the candidate who most represents their views. I might well say you are right about that. But in the hard realpolitik world of modern class-based politics, with unions facing death, one can see why Trumka, Weingarten, and other labor leaders (expect an SEIU endorsement of Hillary very soon), would rally around the winner and hope to be closer to her inner circle.

But if the Bernie surge continues and he develops a shot to win, labor is going to look pretty bad here.

If You Oppose Academic Freedom, At Least Have the Guts to Say So

[ 78 ] July 13, 2015 |


Bernie Sanders has a higher education plan intended to diagnose its major ills. It would make tuition free — in other words, have the federal government directly rather than indirectly subsidize students. It would also, inter alia, require 75% of courses to be taught by tenure-track faculty and ensure that instructors were provided with office space, participate in the governance of the institution, etc.

Kevin Carey’s reaction:

In other words, states would be required to embrace and the federal government would be obligated to enforce a professor-centered vision of how to operate a university: tenure for everyone, nice offices all around, and the administrators and coaches can go pound sand.

75% of faculty being tenure-track is “tenure for everyone.” (On many levels, it’s not!) The administrative and construction bloat that is driving increases in tuition — as Carey later essentially concedes — is no big deal. Sure, there are schools where inexorably rising tuition funds stuff like multi-million dollar annual salaries for legendarily incompetent coaches, but surely there’s an instructor who got reimbursed for travel to a conference somewhere we can focus on instead — heaven frobid Charlie Weis have to “pound sand” by trying to live on an associate professor’s salary.

But the most offensive line is turning Sanders’s argument that instructors should have access to office space (something many adjuncts don’t have) into “nice offices all around.” As a friend observed, this is the higher ed equivalent of going on about welfare recipents and their Obamaphones and color televisions. Carey should put his money where is mouth is and give up his own office — no big deal, right — while also agreeing to be available to meet with interns several hours a week.

Given the realities of teaching for many people, Carey’s flippant snark is quite repellent. If he believes that even more teaching should be done by adjuncts making starvation wages with no job security or institutional resources so that universities can fund more Associate Vice Provost Deans of Strategic Dynamism, he should make the case for it rather than sneering at the very idea that instructors expected to prepare classes, interact with students, and (if they have any hope of professional advancement) conduct research should have access to office space.

And then there’s this:

Instead of tenure, classically defined, they might protect academic freedom in a different way.

You will be unsurprising to know that Carey does not even hint at how academic freedom can be protected without tenure. The reason he doesn’t do this is that it cannot, in fact, be done. If there’s no tenure, instructors can be fired for expressing unpopular views, the end. The case of Steven Salaita should be instructive two ways here. First of all, it should make it obvious that vague requirements that faculty be fired for cause without the due process provided by tenure would be worthless. Someone has a long cv and excellent teacher evaluations? No problem — some non-experts in the field can skim one of his books and declare that his scholarship is incompetent, and someone who’s never observed him in the classroom can declare he’s an incompetent teacher based on his Twitter feed. And second, the ability of UIUC to fire him depended on the fact that tenure had not formally attached.

Look, you can support tenure, or you can support academic freedom, but to pretend that you can oppose the former while supporting the latter is laughably disingenuous. And you certainly can’t speculate about other methods for protecting academic freedom without even hinting at what those might be.

Selma Lives

[ 14 ] July 13, 2015 |


I was reading this old Pete Axthelm profile of Ken Stabler from 1980. A real classy guy. Among the highlight is when he and his team set up a reporter they hated for a cocaine bust.

The only affair involving Stabler that brings no laughter, it seems, is the ugly incident after the 1978 season, when Sacramento writer Bob Padecky was set up for a cocaine bust in Gulf Shores. The circumstantial evidence against Stabler was considerable. Padecky was one of his least favorite writers, yet was invited to Stabler’s hometown for an exclusive interview. Coke was planted under the fender of his rented car and police were tipped off. Padecky unwittingly trivialized the incident a bit with his frenetic by-lined account of his harrowing jail term—which lasted five minutes before the cops realized it was a prank. But the fact remains that someone had executed a cruel and potentially dangerous stunt, and many observers felt that some of Stabler’s friends had participated—with or without his knowledge. When the subject is raised now, all the whimsical and piratical expressions dissolve into a look of abject innocence. “I just don’t know what happened,” he insists. “Maybe nobody ever will.”

Sure thing Kenny. Typical Raider.

Anyway, there was also this:

Properly fortified, the group raced into Selma, where they visited Pitts’s house and drank some more beer. Then, with no real explanation, the group was off to a predominantly black social club in Selma. There were several rounds and some curious glances before it became apparent that the group was on a political mission. Pitts’s friend, Joe T. Smitherman, was running to regain his job as mayor. He had resigned in July of 1979 for personal reasons. But he figured he could get it back with some classic New South campaigning, including an appearance with an interracial group of football stars.

“I’m the one man who understands Southern politics,” Smitherman was soon telling the group. “As mayor, I ordered the arrest of Martin Luther King down here. I said, ‘Dr. King, don’t march.’ And he marched. So I had him arrested. And got 70 percent of the black vote in my next election. What you Yankees have to understand is that we’re not segregationists anymore. We’re populists.” A couple of the blacks fidgeted. Stabler rolled his eyes and muttered, “Henry’s done it again.”

The speeches were not an unqualified success. The audience cheered politely for the ballplayers, but fell ominously silent when Pitts tried an oratorical flourish of, “We in Selma have not merely overcome. We have conquered.” When Sistrunk followed at the mic, he was barely audible. “Speak up, we can’t year you,” somebody called. Sistrunk stared balefully across the room. “If you can’t hear me,” he said, “you can move in closer.” A chair squeaked and there were a few nervous giggles. Stabler said a few words himself but watched most of the proceedings from the bar. “A situation comedy,” he said.

That’s just great. I’m sure their presence and the ex-mayor gloating about not only overcoming but conquering was super welcome in a Selma black bar.

But that wasn’t the only connection to Selma in the news lately. Bonard Fowler, the cop who shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, leading to the famous Selma march, died. Other than killing Jackson, he was also notable for killing other black people as a cop. Then he joined the military, went to Bangkok, and while there got busted for heroin trafficking. That my friends, is a life poorly lived.


[ 93 ] July 13, 2015 |

Common face of one euro coin.jpgOpening up a new thread on the Greek deal.

Ingest. Digest. Enjoy.

Germany to Greece: Drop Dead

[ 367 ] July 12, 2015 |

Austerity today, austerity tomorrow…

“I Want to Get Paid for Not Doing my Job” is a Kind of Principle

[ 236 ] July 11, 2015 |


Good for Beshear:

Beshear on Thursday met with Casey County Clerk Casey Davis, who says he objects to gay marriage for religious reasons, prompting him not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Following their hour-long meeting, the governor issued a statement saying that Davis must issue licenses to gay couples.

“This morning, I advised Mr. Davis that I respect his right to his own personal beliefs regarding same-sex marriages. However, when he was elected, he took a constitutional oath to uphold the United States Constitution,” Beshear said in a Thursday statement. “According to the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution now requires that governmental officials in Kentucky and elsewhere must recognize same-sex marriages as valid and allow them to take place. One of Mr. Davis’ duties as county court clerk is to issue marriage licenses, and the Supreme Court now says that the United States Constitution requires those marriage licenses to be issued regardless of gender.”

Very well said. Not only is issuing marriage licenses Davis’s job, treating citizens impartially is Davis’s job. If he doesn’t want to do his job he should resign, and if he won’t resign he should be fired.

Tears of a Clown

[ 117 ] July 11, 2015 |


The man whose inane legal arguments failed to strip insurance from millions of people still has things to say. They are as silly as ever:

Say what you will about the Affordable Care Act. Democrats passed it in haste. In desperation. Without knowing what was in it. With no bipartisan support. By one vote.

It’s impressive how many dumb talking points Cannon can string together in such a short space:

  • The passage of the ACA has to be the slowest “haste” in history.  (As a tweep observes, the reaction to Brown II still holds the record for most deliberate speed, though.)
  • “Desperation” is a poor choice of words, although certainly broadening access to health care is a very important priority for the Democratic Party and the stakes were clear.  “Desperation” does, however, describe the legal Hail Marys Cannon and his allies have been throwing in order to stop people less affluent than themselves from getting access to health care perfectly.
  • If you’re going to use the egregiously dumb “without knowing what was in it” talking point, at least use the out-of-context Pelosi quote.  All or nothing!
  • Yes, Republicans oppose any health care reform that would involve broadening access to health care.  That they’re proud of this is highly instructive
  • Actually, it passed the Senate by 10 votes.  The idea that passing legislation with “only” a 3/5ths supermajority isn’t really good enough is as risible as ever.

From here, we get the inevitable assertions that the law was re-written by John Roberts:

Roberts found that the ACA unconstitutionally forced Americans to buy health insurance — but then decided Obamacare can stay because it actually just imposes a tax on the uninsured. Never mind that Democrats deliberately decided against such a tax because they didn’t have the votes.

Roberts should have joined Ginsburg’s opinion rather than endorsing the terrible argument that the ACA exceeds the commerce clause, of course. But calling the IRS-enforced penalty that applies to people who don’t carry insurance a “tax” does not in fact change a comma of the law.

Roberts found it would be unconstitutional for the ACA to threaten to revoke existing federal Medicaid grants from states that didn’t expand Medicaid — but then he decided Obamacare could stay if he rewrote it to withhold just the new funding that comes with the Medicaid expansion. Never mind that’s not what Congress intended.

You have got me there: Roberts did re-write this part of the law, very badly. He really should have ignored the ACA’s desperate opponents entirely and not embraced their transparently incoherent new spending power doctrine entirely. How Roberts transformed the ACA into “Obamacare” by re-writing the law in a transparently nonsensical was not favored by anyone who voted for the ACA is much less obvious.

Yet [Roberts] amended the ACA [sic with extreme prejudice] again by allowing the IRS to impose the disputed taxes and entitlements. Never mind that he identified no statutory language authorizing those measures.

Hahahahahaha, right. Give this to Cannon: he knows how few people read Supreme Court opionions and therefore know he’s bullshitting them.

And now, the punchline:

and to disenfranchise Republican and independent voters who swept ACA opponents into state office in 2009, 2010 and 2011 for the purpose of blocking the ACA.

We have here the desperate libertarian opposition to the ACA distilled to its very essence. The only elections that count are ones that Republicans win, and if courts do not enact Republican policy preferences into law Republicans are therefore disenfranchised. I had no idea that an entire theory of democracy could be erected on Antonin Scalia’s stay opinion in Bush v. Gore


…the man who coined “Moops” has more.

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