Monday, February 21, 2005


From the Washington Post, I think:
ATTORNEYS FOR the Justice Department appeared before a federal judge in Washington this month and asked him to dismiss a lawsuit over the detention of a U.S. citizen, basing their request not merely on secret evidence but also on secret legal arguments. The government contends that the legal theory by which it would defend its behavior should be immune from debate in court. This position is alien to the history and premise of Anglo-American jurisprudence, which assumes that opposing lawyers will challenge one another's arguments.
Please, please tell me there is more to this.

UPDATE: Here's the editorial this came from.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

More on Democratic Wedge Issues 

The other day I promised to follow up on this idea of Democrats' using birth control as a wedge issue in the abortion arena. And, for the first time ever, I'm actually going to write about something I said I would write about.

Kevin Drum explained the basic idea:
WEDGE ISSUES....Noam Scheiber writes today about the Hillary Clinton/NARAL tactic of seeking common ground with anti-abortion activists in the area of reducing unwanted pregnancies. No matter what you think about abortion rights, after all, everyone's in favor of trying to reduce the need for abortion. Right?

In a word, no. Carol Tobias, political director for the National Right to Life Foundation, said her group took no position in the debate over birth control and declined NARAL's offer:
Takes no position? That's it? That's your response? As far as I can tell, the only way you could be an anti-abortion activist and not think of birth control as directly relevant to what you do is if you really weren't interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Maybe that's the case. But it would be a pretty alarming admission.
This is classic wedge politics, and it's how the game is played. There are plenty of anti-abortion conservatives who think that reducing unwanted pregnancies is an excellent idea, and NARAL's stance is likely to drive a wedge between them and the hardline abortion activists who view abortion primarily as another bludgeon in the culture war (itself a hodgepodege of conservative wedge issues).

Conversely, it's a freebie for liberals. No matter how they feel about abortion, liberals unanimously support programs that make contraception more widely available and reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies.
Sounds great, right? But, well, I just don't think it's going to work. First of all, I don't think there are a lot of people out there who would vote Democratic but for the Democratic Party's position on abortion. Actually, let me clarify that a bit. There are clearly people who fit into Kevin Drum's category of "people who are anti-abortion but think reducing unwanted pregnancies is a good idea," but I have a strong feeling these people are more concerned with their personal tax rate than whether anyone (other than themselves) have access to birth control, especially, if, say, said other people are poor or dark-skinned.

So, while I think lowering unwanted pregnancies is good policy, and certainly isn't bad politics, it's not some sort of silver bullet in the culture wars.

But, and now I'm going on a bit, my main point is that Democrats simply aren't good at wedge issues. This birth control gambit is clearly an attempt to put a wedge in-between those who are hard-core anti-choice and anti-contraception and those who are pro-contraception but don't like abortion. Now, if the GOP really started pushing policies that would make it very difficult for affluent women over, say, 25 to get access to birth control, this might work. In the real world, there are plenty of Republicans who don't agree with the fundamentalist no-contraception rule, but they're not going to vote on it so long as they can buy condoms and birth control pills (or patches or rings or whatever). And, today, they can do so, and they don't blame the goverment that insurance doesn't cover many of these birth control methods (they should, but that's a different story).

Now, to get to the deeper point, Democrats can succeed in making centrist-type noises on cultural issues, like Clinton did with the V-chip (remember that? me neither) or school uniforms. But this isn't really the use of "wedge issues." I'd say it's more like the "salami slicing" tactics used by the various Soviet-backed Communist Parties in Central and Eastern Europe after WWII. The difference is subtle, but this is the slicing off of constituencies from the front, as opposed to a rearguard action that inserts a wedge (to push the metaphor a bit). Now, birth-control-as-wedge-issue could turn into birth-control-as-salami-slicing tactic if, as I stated earlier, the GOP really started making it hard for affluent whites over 25 or 30 to get birth control. In the absence of that (and Republicans are stupid, but not that stupid), this will remain a wedge issue, and will be one that gets us nowhere politically.

Re-reading what I've written above, I think kind of a theme here is self-interest. That is, if you could make this issue an appeal to self-interest, then I think it would work (and would be a classic salami-slicing tactic, which in many ways was no more than merely buying off certain constituencies). But, inasmuch as this is really an altruistic issue, or at best a societal issue, I just don't think it's going to get us anywhere.

Ok, sorry for the long post that may or may not make any sense. But, it's Saturday, which is a low-traffic day (even for us, whose high-traffic days are low-traffic days), so I feel I have a little more leeway to do this kind of post.

Got Reality? 

So, Representative Chris Cox (R-Calif.) doesn't seem to know the most basic facts about what has or hasn't happened in Iraq since the invasion. Via Atrios:
"America's Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd," he crowed. Then he said, "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq." Apparently, most of the hundreds of people in attendance already knew about these remarkable, hitherto-unreported discoveries, because no one gasped at this startling revelation.
Harvard graduate Matthew Yglesias makes the good point that, in general, finding some conservative (or liberal) saying something crazy is not that big of a deal. But, when that person is an actual sitting Congressperson, making actual decisions on the matters he or she clearly knows nothing about, then we may have some trouble. Now, we don't know if Rep. Cox was lying or is merely delusional, but to not understand that we did not find WMD and are not continuing to discover WMD programs is criminal in its negligence if you're a U.S. Congressperson. This guy should really get put on the Sunday talk shows and asked what the fuck he was talking about.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Aren't Economists Supposed to Understand "National Savings"?? 

Steven Landsberg is an economist. He writes "everyday economics" for Slate. Today, he writes about Social Security, claiming this whole debate is a major red herring. I agree with this, more or less. He also, correctly, states that what is far more important in terms of the future is national savings:
In other words: If you want to address the Social Security crisis of the future, you must adopt laws that encourage saving in the present. There's nothing else you can do.
So far, so good. This is very much true. Then, however, he falls off a cliff, apparently not understanding that national savings=public savings + private savings. He writes:
Which brings us to the president's proposal for private accounts. I like that proposal for three reasons. First, it will encourage people to save.Second, it will give people choices, and choices are good. And third, it will give more voters a stake in the capitalist system, making them more likely to vote for the sort of pro-growth policies that will improve the quality of life for us in our old age and our grandchildren.

What really matters, though, is not private accounts. It's the saving and pro-growth policies that private accounts will encourage. If we can get the same things in other ways, that's just as good. [emphasis added]
Ok, so encouraging people to save is good policy. However, the president's plan (to the extent there is a plan) is going to be financed by the borrowing of trillions upon trillions of dollars! Therefore, it will decrease national savings, not increase it! Which, then, will actually be a drag on the economy, not a boon to it. What the hell is Steven Landsberg thinking!?! Good God this stuff makes me upset. Either Landsberg is a liar or profoundly incompetent at his job.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Democratic Wedge Issues 

Kevin Drum and Noam Schreiber have interesting posts on the idea that Democrats can use birth control as a wedge issue, much like Republicans use gay marraige (and "values" in general) as wedge issues. Noam adds more thoughts here.

Everyone else seems to be weighing in on this, too. Here is Digby, and here is Ed Kilgore of New Donkey.

I've read all those posts but Ed Kilgore, and I will read him. Anyway, it's a very interesting discussion, and you should read all those posts in full. I know people really hate it (and hate it to a level that always surprises me) when I link-and-run like this, but I'm too busy to weigh in right now (and coming down with what I hope is only the common cold) to write more. So, read the links, think about them, and then, hopefully tomorrow, I'm going to post on why I don't think this idea will work, even though it is supremely attractive if you're a Democrat trying to win elections.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Open Thread 

Guth is in La-La Land and I'll be away from the computer all day, so feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, February 14, 2005

George W. Bush, Environmentalist 

When Gregg "Brother of Frank" Easterbrook trots out his old saw "the problem with the environment is the environmentalists" and writes an article in The New Republicans billed on its homepage as "Bush's record on global warming is better than you think," do I even need to read it to conclusively say it sucks?

No, I don't. I haven't read it, yet I will tell you right now that it sucks.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


I will almost certainly be going to LA for most of this week to work on a document production. Therefore, posting will be light to non-existent from me.

I suggest you pick up the shattered pieces of your life and move on.

Absurd Black History Month Reference Alert 

RCN is running a commercial for their On Demand movies. (RCN, by the way, is the worst company in this history of mankind - and I include companies that profit from third world sweat shops.) I cannot transcribe it as (thanks to RCN, as a matter of fact) I do not have Tivo.

The commercial went something like this: "In honor of black history month... we bring you two black superstars.... Denzel Washington in The Manchurian Candidate and Halle Berry in Catwoman."

So, in a stirring tribute to the history of African Americans RCN is... showing two movies they would have shown this month anyway.

This is neither as absurd nor as funny as Goldberg's absurd reference to September 11th below, which I highly recommend to those fans of G&G who usually only read my posts.


Darn. Jonah Goldberg made almost the same observation here today - with the good line that this is like celebrating Jewish history by showing Cadyshack II because Jackie Mason is in it. Great minds... oh no.

Absurd 9/11 Reference Alert 

We may have a new winner in the competition for the Most Absurd Reference to 9/11. I'm watching the local Fox News here in Chicago, and they're talking about this new-ish concept in retail in which you can "test drive" the item you want to buy before you take it home. Examples: doing a load of wash in a Maytag washing machine; getting into a sleeping bag in a room kept at five degrees below zero; ok, you get the point.

Anyway, why is this new idea catching on so quickly? According to Fox Chicago News, it's not just because "it's a more interesting shopping experience," although that plays a role, or because you know, it's nice to try things before you pay for them. Those reasons matter, of course, but the main reason in obviously...the fact that some radical Al-Qeada members flew some commercial jetliners into the WTC and the Pentagon, killing three thousand people.

The reporters exact words, transcribed through TiVo: "Retail analysts also say that after 9/11, there was a change in the way consumers made their decisions. After the attacks, customers simply wanted more proof in what they were buying." Then, they cut to Colleen Stanley, an "industry analyst." She added, wisely and appropriately, "They'll still invest dollars, but they really want to make sure they get a return on their investment." Then, the reporter said that "you combine 9/11 with the corporate scandals and the internet, and you've got today's customers: skeptical and informed."

To take a page from the Guthrie playbook, what the fuckety fuck? Combine 9/11 with the internet and therefore, people like to try out a washing machine? Good lord, I'm speechless.

I would highly recommend against hiring Colleen Stanley if you are a business-owner looking for a retail sales-consultant.

Theater Blogging 

I have a friend who is in this play, which was written up in the Times. Check it out, and if you're in New York, go see it. Looks interesting, to say the least.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 

I saw it last night, and after a morning of reflection, I have to say that this is the best movie I've seen in a long time. It's been so long since I've seen a really great movie for the first time that I was under the impression The Aviator and The Life Aquatic could be categorized as "great". I forgot what it's like to encounter a great movie for the first time - it's all I can think about today.

I love this movie. In a week where we learned that the Ohio legislature is literally attempting to destroy higher education there; in a world where people to continue to kill and starve each other to death - occasionally great art makes a person realize that people are capable of creating things that are beautiful, things that make our miserable, godless existence in this universe worthwhile.

(That's "junior in college, pseudo-intellectual, theatre major Guthrie" talking. Recently, a friend told me how much better I am now than I was then - mostly because I am less arrogant. Sometimes, I think I was a better person then.)

Saturday, February 12, 2005


I'm not going to lose sleep one way or the other over this Jeff Gannon thing, but this is pretty awesome. Oh, and James Wolcott is calling this is "Manchurian Beefcake" affair, which may be the greatest thing ever.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Open Thread 

Back by popular demand. Talk about whatever you would like. The NFL draft, the upcoming baseball season, the chairmanship of the DNC, whatever.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

More on the Trust Fund 

I realize this is supposed to be a sports blog (specifically, the NFL, and specifically within that subcategory, the AFC North), but the Legendary Billmon has compiled some nice quotes about the Trust Fund. It would be nice if he'd write real posts again, but I guess you take what you can get.

Romeo Crennel 

Due to the fact that, when I post on actual policy matters, a circular and ultimately unproductive discussion ensues in the comments, common courtesy demands that I blog on sports. Fair enough. Romeo Crennel is now the coach of the Browns. I, along with everyone else, it seems, thinks this is a good idea. Also, along with everyone else, I agree that it's long overdue. And, of course, the fact that this adds another minority coach to the NFL ranks is invariably a good thing.

Of course, if we don't start improving next year, and if we can't find a quarterback or some o-line, then, well, nothing in the above paragraph matters.

Oh, and in other sports-related news, check out Steve G. on Michael Jordan. As someone who has hated MJ as a player and a person as long as I can remember (which is not to say I don't think he's the best ever), it warmed my heart.

Lost Thread 

Anyone have any thoughts on last night's episode? I don't particularly. Although, it's probably a good thing, in terms of long-run viability, that Ethan was shot instead of interrogated. As much as we want answers, answers only can hurt the show overall. Plus, why was Merry in love with a large Brit, as opposed to a small Hobbit?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Full Faith and Credit? 

A week or so ago I wrote about the Grand Bargain put in place by the Greenspan Commission in the 1980s that created the Social Security Trust fund. The point of that post was that SS reform could screw the middle class who have been most-burdened by the regressive payroll taxes.

The idea, of course, is that in 2018 or whenever, the Trust Fund will have to start selling the bonds back to the government, which payments will finance SS into the future (the future being 100% benefits until 2042, with adjustments needed after that date--some crises, huh?) However, if you just pretend the Trust Fund doesn't exist, then, well, 2042 becomes 2018. The idea that the Trust Fund is not real has been around for a while, and needs no substantive refutation. But now the President is explicitly telling us it's not real. Via Josh Marshall, the President today:
Some in our country think that Social Security is a trust fund -- in other words, there's a pile of money being accumulated. That's just simply not true. The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust. We're on the ultimate pay-as-you-go system -- what goes in comes out. And so, starting in 2018, what's going in -- what's coming out is greater than what's going in. It says we've got a problem. And we'd better start dealing with it now. The longer we wait, the harder it is to fix the problem.
Good Lord. If any normal president said something this stupid, and this dangerous for the international capital markets, the markets would go INSANE. Think about it--this is the President of the United States saying that US Treasury Bonds are merely worthless pieces of paper, seemingly blind to the fact that the sale of same is keeping us afloat, current account-wise and budget deficit-wise. Luckily, markets seems to understand that this president knows nothing about economics, and discounts his pronouncements accordingly, as best exemplified by this.

However, if Bush really pushes this, and the markets start to believe that the government will default on those "mere IOUs" held by the Social Security Trust Fund, I think we may be in some serious trouble. I can't imagine the Chinese Central Bank liking that too much, and then it's Argentina-land for us.

UPDATES: Josh Marshall has some.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Idiot Liberals (special CTRL-C/CTRL-V edition) 

Some more examples of Liberals Who Exclusively Attack Other Liberals this week. Kevin Drum does a nice rundown here. His list included Gregg "Brother of Frank" Easterbrook, who really is a Charter Member in this club (along with Mickey Kaus, of course), and guy who, in general, likes to write about what stuff he knows nothing of. Harvard grad Matthew Yglesias explains Gregg's latest lunacy:
I'M SURE THERE'S A GOOD IDEA HERE SOMEWHERE. Gregg Easterbrook offers up the intriguing thesis that Democrats have gone astray in the current Social Security debate because "It is dogmatism to refuse to listen to Bush's proposal, or to assume that change in the existing order must be bad." And, indeed, that would be dogmatism. But Easterbrook probably ought to take his own advice and listen to Bush's proposal instead of inventing some other proposal, attributing it to Bush, and then slamming liberals for rejecting it. The column goes on and on about how wonderful it is that the White House wants to reduce "taxation of labor income" by lowering the payroll tax.

But Bush's plan would do no such thing. An awful lot of weird lies, spin, and distortions have issued forth from the RNC communications shop on the subject of Social Security, but this isn't even something anyone has ever pretended the Republicans want to do. Where he got the idea that this is the essence of the Bush plan, I couldn't say, but it's not in there. Open-mindedness is an excellent thing, but there's no need to be so open-minded that you just start assuming people are proposing changes you like instead of looking at the changes they're actually proposing.
See, Matt is a better writer now, at age 23 or 24 or whatever he is, than I'll ever be, hence the cutting-and-pasting there.

Now, today, we have another Liberal Who Hates Liberals, Joe "Anonymous" Klein. Luckily, we also have another writer who is much better than I (but at least this guy is over 20 years older than I am) to help us out (although, he does a lot of cutting-and-pasting himself in this post). Digby:
"Anonymous" Is A Putz

Campaign Desk points out that Joe Klein is pulling things out of the ether:
Finally, there was the boorish and possibly unprecedented hooting of the President by Democrats during the [State of the Union] speech.

"No! No! No!" they shouted, inaccurately, when Bush asserted that the Social Security trust fund would, in a decade or so, start paying out more money than it takes in. If nothing is done, it surely will.
Campaign Desk correctly notes:
Beyond the fact that such "hooting" was far from unprecedented, Klein's short-term memory must be playing tricks on him. Democrats did not start crying out "No! No! No!" when the president asserted that the trust fund would soon start paying out more money than it takes in. Rather, the Democrats accurately started calling out "No! No! No!" when the president inaccurately asserted that "By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt." You can hear for yourself on the White House video of the address (Real Media or Windows Media) -- the moment in question is about 15 minutes into the speech.

You can also hear the boorish boos of Republicans when Clinton said in the 1997 address that we didn't need to change the constitution to balance the budget. (Little did we know then that the 90's GOP balanced budget amendment hobby horse was actually designed to stop themselves from bankrupting the country.)
Here's a nice little reminder from way back in 1999 of what the country was like in the days when our un-boorish representatives practiced civility and decency:
Reps. Robert Schaffer (R-Colo.) and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to colleagues last week arguing that they should skip the speech because Clinton "is demonstrating his lack of respect for the Congress and its legitimate role."

But Schaffer had few illusions that his absence would be noticed: "What happens tonight is Congress and the president coming together to send a message there's some semblance of normalcy in Washington, and the detestable conduct of the president is somehow tolerated," he said. "The president doesn't care and nobody cares. The theatrical production is going to go on unimpeded."
Klein, no doubt, was sitting in front of a camera somewhere that night, hunched over the desk like a slobbering beast, so intensely focused on Clinton's manly member that he simply didn't hear a thing.
See, I'd never be able to write something as good as that last sentence.

Blog B. "Blog" Bloggerman 

January, 2005 was our highest-trafficked month ever. So, I want to thank all of you for that.

Also, the good people at The American Street have put together an authoritative-looking list of progressive/liberal bloggers, arranged by state. At least, I assume it's authoritative and comprehensive, because it even lists us. Anyway, it's pretty cool

Most Condescending Sentence Ever? 

So, some of you who follow matters blogospheric may know of the Juan Cole-Jonah Goldberg smackdown going on. Basically, Cole said how it's ridiculous J-G gets to go on CNN and pontificate about Iraq when he knows nothing about Iraq and has admitted to never reading a book on the area. Anyway, there's been a lot of great back-and-forth, and I imagine those people who think Jonah Goldberg is a smart and interesting guy think that he's winning this spat, and those who think he's a total douche think Juan Cole is winning.

In any event, go to Juan's site and you can read all about it. And I suggest you do, because it is hysterical. But, link here, a reader emailed me with the following excerpt from Professor Cole, and wonders if it is the most condescending thing ever written. It may very well be, and it's awesome:
Let us see what has been established. First, I alleged that Goldberg has never read a book about Iraq, about which he keeps fulminating. I expected him at least to lie in response, the way W. did when similarly challenged on his book-reading. I expected Goldberg to say, "That is not true! I have read Phebe Marr's book on modern Iraq from cover to cover and know all about the 1963 failed Baathist coup!" But Goldberg did not respond in this way. I conclude that I was correct, and he has never read a book on this subject.

I am saying I do not understand why CNN or NPR would hire someone to talk about Iraq policy who has not read a book on the subject under discussion. Actually, of course, it would be desirable that he had read more than one book. Books are nice. They are rectangular and soft and have information in them. They can even be consumed on airplanes. Goldberg should try one.
Awesome. And, thankfully, Jonah and I are not related.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Total, Complete and Utter Hypocrisy (I would stop reading this blog if I were you) 

I suspected my views on Corey Dillon had changed, and I was right. I did a search on a Bengals forum I occasionally post at, and found this post. Good God I suck.

Bengal fan JoePong wrote:
Is Corey Dillon banging your wives or something? That's the only way I can explain your irrational hatred.

But I guess it's nothing new. People wanted to run TJ out of town too because he was hurt all year. The venom directed at that guy simply because he happend to tear his hamstring is just unbelievable.

Then I, the author of all these recent Dillon posts on this blog, wrote (under the user name of top6):
JP, I tend to agree with this last statement. Why people suddenly hate the player who was the only good thing on our team for half a decade, I'll never understand.
WHAT THE SHIT? And this was after much of the behavior I mentioned earlier (although I'm not sure he had yet called Anderson a "bum"). What is my problem?

One thing - being a Bengals fan makes you insane. None of my thoughts relating to the Bengals are rational, with the exception of: "Mike Brown step down." Also: "I hate Joe Montana" and "Sam Wyche was an offensive genius." Oh, and one more: "You don't live in Cleveland."

(And note, if you follow the link, that I don't frequently post on sports message boards - I only have 17 posts in more than a year. So I'm certainly NOT a loser... oh God I hate myself, I hate myself.)

Super Bowl Thoughts 

(1) Worst Sports Argument Ever?

Last night, after the f-faced led Partriots won their third Super Bowl, Sean Salisbury and Michael Irvin engaged in a debate over whether these Patriots or the Cowboys of the '90s were better. For some reason, both men seemed to agree that the key stat in settling this argument was average margin of victory in the Super Bowl. The Patriots' was something like 3; the Cowboys' was something like 14.

Irvin argued, sensibly if you ignore the fact that this stat has very little to do with which team was better, that this indicated the Cowboys were superior. Salisbury argued that this indicated the Patriots were better - because, unlike the Cowboys, the Patriots proved they could win close Super Bowls.

Score one for Michael Irvin.

(2) What the Fuck?

I only had a mild interest in this Super Bowl - I would have liked it if the Eagles won, although the idea of making horrible Eagles fans happy was distasteful. Yet even I was going crazy when the Eagles took their sweet time on that second-to-last drive. It simply defied all logic and common sense. AND WHY DID HE THROW THAT PASS ON SECOND DOWN ON THE LAST DRIVE? (A pass that gained half a yard when they needed 60 and took half of the time off the clock.) Why did they throw to the middle of the field at all? In sum, what the fuck? If I was an Eagles fan I may have forsworn football at that point.

(3) McNabb

He was just way too happy in the post-game interview I saw. He seemed thrilled that the Eagles had just made a game out of it - even though, in his eyes, nobody had given them a chance. I mean, they weren't that big of underdogs - it wasn't exactly the Jets facing the Colts that one year. He just seemed a little too happy just to be in the game - a direct contrast to the winning team. Coupled with the infuriating last two drives, I can't say I was very impressed with Mr. McNabb's performance.

(4) Dillon

See my thought below, in the comments to the "Great" post. Also, just for the record, they always talk about Dillon's "flipping Burgers" comment. I didn't appreciate that, but it was in the context of a contract negotiation which can obviously get contentious - especially with Mike "About 10 Times More of a Fuck Face and Piece of Shit Than Corey Dillon Will Ever Be" Brown. For some reason, because it would not fit in with the new "Dillon is a wonderful, godly man" script, they never talk about his behavior at the end of last year and during the offseason. Dillon wanted to get traded, so he decided to go on The Best Damn Sports Show Period and call Willie Anderson a bum. Most people probably don't know who Anderson is - but he's a pro-bowl tackle, he's played on the Bengals for 13 years and he blocked for Dillon when he set the all-time and rookie single game rushing records. Also, he's generally lauded for his impeccable character and leadership on and off the field. So, in order to get traded, Dillon decided to call him a bum. Class.

Also, the Dillon-script during the week was that Dillon was only a malcontent because he was tired of losing. What this fails to explain is why Dillon "suffered" through years of Bengals losses before he demanded to be traded. He only wanted to leave after Rudi Johnson started competing for his starting spot. He didn't give a shit about winning - he only cares about putting himself in the best light possible. Well, he's succeeded, and he has a ring, so I guess he gets the last laugh. Good work, Dillon and Patriots.

Friday, February 04, 2005


While I'm actually not entirely unsympathetic to his comments, I think in general it would be better for our standing among Muslims if our military's leaders didn't come out and say that it was "fun" to shoot them.
Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded Marine expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq, made the comments Tuesday during a panel discussion in San Diego, California.

"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
Thanks to reader MS, also known as Guthrie's mom.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Shake 'N Blake 

Jeff Blake made a pretty cool comment to some Cincinnati reporters:
Asked if he can play until 40, Blake flexed his bicep.

“My arm,” he said, “is still bigger than your legs.”
God bless one Jeff Blake.


Corner Endorses Maiming 

Here's a comment on The Corner by John Hood:
I must say, I do feel a lot safer with Nancy Pelosi on the case. She'll get our armed forces what they need to capture, maim, or kill the enemies of America. Totally believable.
Can someone please tell me one period during American history where it became necessary to "maim" our enemies, and when it became synonymous with the stereotype of weak, cowardly liberalism to say that perhaps our enemies should not be maimed after all.

Democratic Response Comment 

I generally have liked Harry Reid so far, but maybe he should stop speaking in public. When a Democrat makes me agree with Jonah Goldberg, I don't appreciate it. Goldberg:
The moment Harry Reid said we need a "Marshall plan for America" last night I found it almost impossible to focus on what he was saying afterwards. It's an ancient cliché which reveals so much about the neo-nativism of the Democratic party than almost anything else. The notion that a "Marshall plan" would work in the most prosperous nation in the world where Americans are not, in fact, digging out from rubble and looking to rebuild their societies is too dumb to pick apart at length.
I have to say, outside of the neo-nativism comment (which I don't understand), I agree completely. Saying that we need a program similar to the program that saved post-World War II Europe simply makes no sense. Yet, given how stupid the American public has proved itself over the last few elections and seasons of Yes, Dear, it wouldn't surprise me if this polled well.

(Note the second reference to Yes, Dear in a week - I just watched this show once or twice over the last few months and was stunned by how terrible it is. I think it's going to be my new standard for how stupid people can be.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

SOTU Thread 

You can ask anyone, I limit myself to one hour of TV a day (well, you can ask anyone, but don't ask anyone who actually knows me). Therefore, since I'm alreadly watching American Idol, I won't be able to watch the Big Speech. So, either get your commentary elsewhere or hope Guthrie will post on it.

Then again, I'm sure Guth will watch the speech, as he clearly has a masochistic streak as evidenced by his daily Fox News watching. Hopefully he'll have something interesting to say.

The Press 

So, I haven't much criticized the press recently; probably because I haven't been reading the news much lately. But also because, well, it's kind of like shooting fish in a barrel and it's kind of lazy, because just because you find a bad article, well, probably every side of every issue can find an article or news report that pisses them off. But, Atrios here finds something that truly is endemic, and the main problem with it isn't ideological:
The White House official who briefed reporters on the speech said Mr. Bush would take detailed positions on Social Security in coming weeks and months, but only to the extent that doing so would help Congress move forward. The official, who spoke before an auditorium full of journalists, insisted on not being quoted by name. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said the goal in not allowing the use of the official's name was to keep the focus on Mr. Bush.
Just fucking tell us the official's name. This is ridiculous.
What do we learn from this? One, that Atrios and Guthrie share parts of our fine lexicon. Second, and more importantly, I think this reflects some serious laziness. Maybe that's not the right word. Maybe it's more of a "race to the bottom" or collective action type situation. Reporter A doesn't want to have to quote this anonymous White House mouthpiece, but if she doesn't, Reporter B will, and Reporter A will be shut out of the story.

But this theory doesn't hold water, because Reporter A could easily file a story on SS without this WH-approved bullshit line, and have a better story, maybe analyzing this document, a big pdf some GOPers put together concerning the best way to swindle the public into thinking getting rid of SS is a good thing.

In any event, why do reporters keep accepting these types of background-only briefings? The White House says, "Here, take this pile of shit and eat it," and the press says, "Sir, yes sir." Now, obviously off-the-record reporting is important, but only when you're getting real information you couldn't otherwise get. The Official White House Line is pretty much the exact opposite of that.

So, if my WH press corps reader is reading this post, feel free to email an explanation to me. I, uh, promise not to reveal your name...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Gayness? Count Derb Out 

In The Corner's continual quest to ruin movies you may otherwise have liked, a discussion about Miller's Crossing has begun.

It appears John Derbyshire - AKA "The Derb" - has never seen nor heard of it. In the midst of some discussion and attempts to convince the Derb to see it, John Podhoretz writes:
I once horrified Jonah by saying that the secret to understanding Miller's Crossing is that Gabriel Byrne's character is gay and he's in love with Albert Finney -- but that's only because I AM RIGHT!!!!!
To which the Derb responds:
John P.: Now I don't want to watch it.
That's it - no context, not another punchline, not a LOL. Apparently, the mere flippant suggestion that a character in a movie may be gay is enough to cause one conservative pundit to avoid seeing it.

One question, however. If subtext and clues lead one to the obvious conclusion that a character is gay, won't this mean that John Derbyshire will have to stop reading articles about John Derbyshire?

Awesome! (Plus, Welcome Hide and Seek Spoiler Seekers!) 

If you Google "Laura Bush chainsmoker", we are the sixth web site that comes up!

We also seem to be getting hits from people looking for spoilers to Hide and Seek; even though I did do a brief post on this a few days ago, I'm really not sure why this is happening. Just so you know, I've never seen the movie, but if it turns out that any of the main characters are dead, that sucks. And go to this site whenever you want to know the ending to a movie.


Social Security 

Ok, an actual post on politics and policy, if you can believe it. This is actually a slightly reworked version of an email I sent today, so it may not be the clearest thing I've ever written. But, here goes. Now, Bush, after saying he wouldn't cut benefits, now says he will, but they'll be more than made up for by the magic of your personal/private/individual/insert-good-polling-word-of-day-here accounts.

Now, this clearly is untrue. See Paul Krugman or Kevin Drum But this post isn't about that, it's about the sort of Grand Bargain we've been toiling under since 1983 or so. What happened then is that Greenspan headed a commission to deal with, get this, the looming fiscal crisis in SS--and back then there really was a crisis. His solution, which wasn't a bad one, was to increase payroll taxes and apply them to the first $80-some-thousand of income (I think it's $87,000 now). Obviously, this is a regressive tax. The idea was that this would build up a surplus in payroll taxes. That is, we'd collect more in payroll taxes then we'd have to pay out in SS benefits. Indeed, this was and still is the case. The idea was that this surplus would be invested in goverment bonds, and when the surplus ran out, it would cash in these bonds and therefore we'd still be able to pay full SS benefits.

Now, at some point in the future the gov't will have to start buying back these bonds, if we keep the current system. How does it do this? It uses money from the General Fund. Where does this money come from? The vast majority from income taxes. So, Greenspan's Grand Bargain, such as it was, was to increase a regressive tax (the payroll) for a while, and then, when there was no longer this surplus, have the progressive income tax make up the shortfall through the buying back of gov't bonds.

And, of course, the income tax falls mostly on the rich--I'm talking federal revenue, not tax rates, by the way. Point being, the Bush phase-out plan will have this nice added benefit--middle and working-class Americans uphold their end of the bargain from 1983 until whenever Bush implements his plan, but the rich don't hold up their end, because they never buy back the surplus.

Now, which party is the party of class warfare again?

So, I shan't be having any kids, it seems 

From Reuters:
Teenagers and young men should keep their laptops off their laps because they could damage fertility, an expert said on Thursday.


"The increase in scrotal temperature is significant enough to cause changes in sperm parameters," said Dr Yefim Sheynkin, an associate professor of urology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Is "scrotal" even a word? Sadly, yes!* But it still sounds made up to me. And, this problem will only get worse as laptops get more powerful. And while I think this may be bad news for me, I can only imagine what it means for Guthrie, who pretty much never didn't have a laptop on his lap during law school. I'm guessing his testicles are no more than shriveled up peas right now. Tough break, Guth.

*Apologies to Sadly, No!

Corey Dillon: Son of God? 

Corey Dillon continues his quest to alienate every person in Cincinnati in this article. It's difficult to follow Dillon's train of thought here, but his last quote is awesome.
Dillon said he put Cincinnati behind him after the Patriots and Bengals played Dec. 12. He's not looking back and is at peace, even when pressed on whether his negative reputation was unfair.

"People are going to view me how they want to, and the way I look at it, people didn't think Jesus was Jesus. So who am I?"
God Dillon's awesome.

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