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Showing posts from January, 2012

Chuck series finale

This post contains spoilers for the finale.

Chuck ended it's run tonight. I had kind of forgotten how attached I was to this show until they showed some the early Chuck and Sarah moments. That first kiss when they thought the bomb was about to go off got the waterworks going. The more I think about it, the more this was a really bittersweet ending. Having Sarah's memory about Chuck gone is a really horrible thing. I understand why they did it. It served as an effective dramatic story and it allowed them to show us those early Chuck and Sarah moments that were so effective.

The part that really had me crying was when Sarah was watching her video logs of every day she was on her mission as Chuck's handler. She shares some sweet moments, those times when Chuck was so innocent and naive and trying to get close to Sarah. Then she gets to the moment when she confesses to herself that she loves Chuck. That worked so well because present day Sarah didn't remember the way she …

Duke goes as Curry goes

I'm happy we beat on of our bitter rivals, Maryland. But we did a lot of the same against them as we have the past several weeks that have led to a few loses. We haven't been a good defensive team for most of the year. But lately teams seem to have figured out that they can get in the lane any time they want. Maryland did it pretty much all game. But they started missing shots in the second half that they were making in the first.

Lately, we seem to have just as many offensive problems as defensive ones. Though against Maryland, we finally started to run the offense through Mason Plumlee and he played great. We are going to need to do this every game because the other thing teams have started to do is not let our guards get open 3 point shots. And when they do, we aren't shooting as well as we were earlier in the season. Seth Curry, in particular, has not been shooting the ball nearly as well as he had been. Many people are quick to point out that Austin Rivers doesn'…

Newt Gingrich: I can't hold back any longer

Newt is a piece of work. I haven't said much about him because so many other people do a great job of pointing out how terrible and ridiculous he is. And until South Carolina he was a fringe candidate. I still don't think he will win the nomination. There just seems like too many Republican leaders and voters who don't trust him, even more than they don't trust Romney.

But while he is battling Romney he is getting a lot of coverage. So I can't really avoid him and the crazy shit he says. This latest one caught my eye and I couldn't resist giving my thoughts:

GINGRICH: It’s pretty simple: marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a historic doctrine driven deep into the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, and it’s a perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism. The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are perfectly natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilizati…

Justice and taxes

Bill Gates joins the discussion:

GATES: Well the United States has a huge budget deficit, so taxes are going to have to go up. And I certainly agree that they should go up more on the rich than everyone else. That’s just justice.

BBC HOST: Is that a message you think that works with other people as wealthy as yourself, or is it just a small circle of friends — yourself, Warren Buffet, a few others.

GATES: Well, I hope we can solve that deficit problem with a sense of shared sacrifice — where everybody would feel like they’re doing their part. And right now, I don’t feel like people like myself are paying as much as we should.
I didn't watch Obama's SOTU. But I heard that he talked about this issue and proposed some kind of millionaire's tax. I'm sure there was a good bit of rhetoric about justice which mirrors a lot of what you hear from the public. I've said before that I don't like the way the argument for higher taxes is framed. And while I think Bill Gates m…

Foreign ideas on immigration reform

Adam Serwer talks about the change for some of the GOP candidates:

During Monday night's debate, however, the Republican consensus shifted just a smidgen to the left, as both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney endorsed the idea of a military-only DREAM Act, an idea once embraced by their fallen rival Rick Perry.

"If you live in a foreign country, and you are prepared to join the American military, you can, in fact, earn the right to citizenship by serving the United States and taking real risk on behalf of the United States," Gingrich said. "That part of the DREAM Act I would support."

"I would not sign the DREAM Act as it currently exists," Romney agreed, "but I would sign the DREAM Act if it were focused on military service."
I find it odd that they would support it if is focused on military service only. I thought, according to Republicans, only real, patriotic Americans served in the military. And I thought serving in our military was the most…

Contraception and religious freedom

In what seems like a surprising move given some of Obama's disappointments, his administration did something good in having preventative care fully covered under the ACA:

To recap: the Affordable Care Act requires that “preventative care” be fully covered, with no co-pay, under new insurance plans, and the Department of Health and Human Services accepted recommendations that put all forms of contraception in that category. If you care about lowering the rate of unintended pregnancies, making birth control affordable and accessible should be one of your major goals, right? Wrong. Catholic and other antiabortion organizations immediately raised a stink, demanding a broader opt-out from the new regulations, since they wouldn’t qualify under the limited “religious organization” exemption. In other words, they wanted to deny birth control coverage to the women and men who work for Catholic hospitals or universities, regardless of their personal views on contraception.
Credit to them for…

Battlestar Galactica: leadership

The two episodes that were on last night were "Razor". They chronicled Apollo's first mission on the Battlestar Pegasus. And while doing that they did a lot of flashbacks in order to give some of the characters from Pegasus some backstory. We see a lot of Admiral Cain, who was killed by cylon #6, played by Tricia Helfrer. When Pegasus first arrived we got a pretty good sense that Cain was a hard ass and a bit out there, at least compared to Adama. Now we get a really clear sense just how crazy she was.

For starters, she executes her XO because he refuses to follow her orders, orders which pitted her very outnumbered squad against the cylons despite previously saying she wouldn't do something of the sort. Then she orders civilians to be killed because they won't give up their resources, which would basically leave them for dead if the cylons find them. She also authorizes the torture of #6, which is why it eventually kills Cain. And aside from being homicidal and…

Federalism I can get behind

I spend a lot of time talking about the problems with states rights. But that is mostly a reaction to conservatives blindly calling for more states rights just because they don't like the federal gov't. When I do that I might make the mistake of appearing as though I don't think there is a role for states in terms of important policy that exists in other states or is also a federal issue in some sense. Republican governor of New Jersey demonstrates a way in which I think states have an important role:

[L]et us reclaim the lives of those drug offenders who have not committed a violent crime. By investing time and money in drug treatment – in an in-house, secure facility – rather than putting them in prison. Experience has shown that treating non-violent drug offenders is two-thirds less expensive than housing them in prison. And more importantly – as long as they have not violently victimized society – everyone deserves a second chance, because no life is disposable. I am no…

Batman and social disorder

If there is a confluence of two things I love that I can't pass up talking about it's Batman and politics. Jamelle Bouie has a response to two posts that discuss the relationship between Batman and the social disorder that exists in the Christopher Nolan movies. You can find the original post that sparked the debate in that link, along with the first response to that post.

Basically, Taylor Marvin, in his original post, says that Batman destabilizes Gotham to the point where the gov't does not have a monopoly on the use of force. That in return creates social disorder because human's construct societies on the basis that the state has a monopoly on the use of violence. We maintain order by telling ourselves that uses of violence outside of the state are illegitimate. And when problems arise the state can solve them through violence because we deem their action legitimate.

Erik Kain responded by pointing saying:

The central thesis, as I see it, is that Batman would be …

The narrative about welfare

Newt Gingrich doesn't understand why calling food stamps an African-American issue is insulting:

JUAN WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic, and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?

GINGRICH: No, I don’t see that.
He doesn't understand why because he doesn't know that, as the link points out, most black people aren't on food stamps. Nor are most of the people on food stamps black people. So why would food stamps be a black person issue instead of a white person issue, or more specifically a child and old person issues?

The reason is because Republicans, and Democrats to a certain extent, have built a narrative about food stamps, welfare, and welfare-type programs in general which says that these programs are mostly about white …

MLK day

I'm outsourcing this one:

At the end of his all too short life, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to realize that the full meaning of the black freedom struggle was not just the achievement of a cup of coffee at an integrated restaurant, or riding in the front seat of a city bus. The “dream deferred,” in poet Langston Hughes’s words, was America’s failure to address poverty, from Harlem to Appalachia, from Indian reservations to the barrio of East Los Angeles. Striking black sanitation workers in Memphis, who were fighting for decent wages, represented the dream deferred. The dream deferred was personified by millions of Americans without adequate housing and health care. Like brother Malcolm X before him, Martin moved from a civil rights agenda, to a human rights agenda. His vision for racial justice had also become a vision of social justice, full human equality, and economic fairness for all. This was the dream deferred beyond considerations of race and color; his dream of economi…

Further thoughts on censorship

This is one of those issues that really interests me. I guess that's because it lies in the middle of two of my favorite things, politics and tv. So I keep thinking about this. And the more I think about it the more I don't like what the FCC does and what the Supreme Court has previously ruled on obscenity cases.

In most free speech cases the court rules on whether the speech in question posed an immediate threat for violence. I forget the legal wording of the test they use. But basically you can't incite riot or yell fire in a crowded theater. And it also depends on your location for how much speech you are entitled to. In these cases, the court is pretty reasonable. But when it comes to obscenity I think they are off the mark.

I'm not going to dig back into the specific cases. So forgive me if this isn't an in depth analysis. But I think if you asked the court for a definition of obscenity they would have a difficult time defining it, or giving us a test as to …

The disconnect between Ron Paul and liberals

Conor Friedersdorf tries to reconcile the disconnect and asks what liberals would do if they reject Paul. Conor always has smart things to say. And that is the case in this instance.

But one thing missing from his article and all of Glenn Greenwald's on this subject is the effect of the economy on the public's attention. The media and politicians help drive political narratives. And since the recession towards the end of 2008, that narrative has largely been focussed on the economy.

Thus, because of the media coverage and because the economy affects them more than Iraq/Afghanistan/executive power/etc., the public has been more focussed on that issue more than everything else. These issues were so important in 2006 and most of 2008 because the economy was doing well. The media and the public were able to focus their attention to other issues. And aside from a bad economy, wars are usually big news.

I'm not sure if there is polling that addresses these issues that Paul is…

Romney's flip flopping problem

Phillip Klein thinks it will be a bigger problem in the general election than it is in the primary:

During a primary, there’s a certain political balancing act to flip-flopping. On the one hand, changing positions makes a candidate seem inauthentic, but on the other hand, people like it when you agree with them. As it applies to Romney and conservatives, the debate has been between those who see his numerous reversals as evidence that he isn’t truly a conservative, and his supporters, who tout the fact that his current rhetoric is conservative. During the primary season, for instance, some pro-life conservatives have remained suspicious that he’s really one of them, whereas others have argued that opponents of abortion should welcome converts.

But should he be become the nominee, Romney will have to earn the votes of a lot of people who don’t necessarily agree with him. So he’ll essentially get all of the political downside of being a flip-flopper with none of the offsetting benefits. …

Justice Roberts' tv guide

From the FCC case:

Roberts jumps in to add, “People who want to expose their children to broadcasts where these words are used, there are 800 channels where they can go for that. All we are asking for ...” he stops himself. ”What the government is asking for, is a few channels where you can say they are not going to hear the S-word, the F-word. They are not going to see nudity.”
What kind of cable provider does he have? I can probably list the number of channels where I can hear the word fuck or actually see some fucking on both hands. Roberts, or the gov't, has more than enough channels where kids won't hear the words shit and fuck or see nudity. Those channels make up the vast majority of channels on tv. The gov't is already getting what it is in court arguing for.

I'm glad to see Justice Ginsburg address the contradiction in FCC policy regarding showing violence. I think it's much more damaging for kids to see violence, someone being shot or beat up, than it is…

Ron Paul post of the day: racism edition pt. 2

I can't help it. Congress is out of session, despite what Republicans want you to believe. So the GOP primary is the big political news. And while at times I enjoy pointing out ridiculous things the candidates say, that gets old and repetitive after a while. But Ron Paul consistently raises important points that even liberal politicians don't address often enough, especially Barak Obama. Here he is talking about racism:

"True racism in this country is in the judicial system," he said in his counterattack to the ABC News panelist at the New Hampshire debate. "And it has to do with enforcing the drug laws.

"Look at the percentages. The percentages of people who use drugs are about the same with blacks and whites. And yet the blacks are arrested way disproportionately. They're prosecuted and imprisoned way disproportionately. They get the death penalty way disproportionately.

"How many times have you seen a white rich person get the electric chair or g…

Free speech on tv

I don't often find political topics on Pajiba, one of my favorite sites. But they have a post up today making the argument that the FCC shouldn't regulate what is said or shown on tv.

The Internet is free market. I have the First Amendment right to say anything I want in the language that I prefer, but advertisers have every right not to advertise on our pages, and readers have the same right to read Yahoo News, instead, where you’re less likely to run across a string of profanities or threats upon your life.

But you know who doesn’t have that right? Broadcast networks. Instead of allowing advertisers and viewers to decide what programs and what channels to watch or advertise on based on content and language, the FCC has prohibits the use of certain words or certain levels of sex and violence during certain times of the day, and this despite the fact that cable programming — which goes unregulated by the FCC — is allowed to air what it wants, when it wants.

But it doesn’t. Bec…

New Van Halen single

I think I've mentioned this before, but I love Van Halen. They are probably my favorite band of all time. So I'm glad they are releasing a new album, and more glad they are touring for that album. As is apparently the standard now and days they have release a single off that album, which can be found here. My first impression is, eh. The tempo is a bit too slow. And there is no real hook or riff.

I'm weird with music. Sometimes I hear something right away and I get it, like Lady Gaga for example, or when I heard Van Halen for the first time. Other times I hear something and it takes a while for me to get into it, like Iron Maiden or Sum 41's "Does This Look Infected". It's possible I'll end up liking this new single. But I doubt it. I generally need that hook from the guitar. Hopefully the rest of the album gives me some of that.

Rick Santorum is without class

Not because of his ridiculous views on gay rights and contraception. He doesn't like acknowledging the idea of different classes in American society. He doesn't even think they exist. I highly doubt Santorum is making a semantic or philosophical point when he criticizes other politicians for talking about class. I'm pretty sure it's just his way of crying class warfare.

And he is far from alone in that regard. Nearly every Republican you hear talk will eventually get to the great injustice that is done by Democrats when they engage in class warfare. Never mind that they use violent language to describe it or never really describe what it is in detail. It's just more ridiculous rhetoric. But what makes Santorum's efforts different are that most Republicans at least acknowledge that there are different classes. It's hard for some to go an entire speech without heaping praise on the always important and greatest group of people ever, the middle class.

So why…

Battlestar back on track

I haven't written about Battlestar Galactica in a while because the third season has been different from the first two. Much of it has been character drive, specifically Apollo and Starbuck. But with this episode, called Dirty Hands which is co-written by Buffy alumn Jane Espenson, we get back to what BSG was the first two seasons.

They pack a ton of political issues into this episode. There is unions, collective bargaining, class, equality, aristocracy, due process, indefinite detention, free speech, and probably one or two more I'm forgetting. Basically the workers are unhappy with their work conditions so they stop producing fuel. As with every issue on BSG, the circumstances they face make it a bit different than the political issues we face in the US. Fuel production for us probably isn't life or death. But for the fleet it could turn into a life or death situation if the cylons attack.

So you can understand why Adama and Roslin take a firm stance with the workers a…

Ron Paul and Obama on Iran

Andrew Sullivan has a good post up explaining why Paul is right and Obama is wrong on this issue. We have both discussed this before. But I want to talk about again because I think it's an important issue and a good barometer for a president and I like talking nuclear weapons. First, here is what I said back in November:

Though even then I don't think its certain Iran would become more aggressive and seek to start destructive conflicts. I think it could be just as easily the case that obtaining nuclear weapons moderates Iran's militaristic efforts. If they aren't willing to use their nuclear weapons to directly strike Israel, then that suggests they don't want to risk being attacked themselves. The same logic of not wanting to risk nuclear destruction would arise if Iran started a conventional war with Israel. And the political science literature shows that when two nuclear powers engage in conflict with each other they are very cautious to escalate things. Two exam…

Ron Paul and majoritarian democracy

If you're like me you're tired of the Ron Paul talk. Hell, I'm tired of the entire GOP nomination process. I just don't care since I don't have a horse in the race. But the Paul talk won't go away on the blogs so I wanted to address it again. The fractured nature of the support and dislike for Paul highlights one of the fundamental consequences of the nature of our system of gov't, one that has benefits and problems.

The US is a majoritarian democracy. We elect people by seeing who gets a majority of the vote. In order to get a majority of the vote in a country as large as ours, you need a ton of people voting for you. This is why political parties were formed. You need a national organization that can bring in the number of people you need to get elected. And there have only been two parties at a time for most of our country's history because it's really difficult for a third party to get enough people to vote for it in order to win. A third party…

Religious symbols on public land

I'm bored so I did something I usually don't do, which is go and look for something to post on. Usually I just read my standard blogs and post if something catches my eye. So I came across this story on crosses being put up at Camp Pendelton.

That's not the situation with the two newer crosses at the Marine base, which shouldn't have been allowed without a plan for a more universal memorial site. One course of action that would allow the new crosses to remain would be to invite Marines of other religious beliefs to add their own symbols to the hill. That would ensure the separation of church and state while also being sensitive to the sense of loss suffered by those in the armed services. It would create a place where all people in uniform can remember the sacrifices made by so many.
Crosses on a public site is the state endorsing christianity. The article does an decent job of making that point. But I think there is a mistake made in that last paragraph where it tries…

Duke loss follows familiar script

Every time Duke loses it feels like it's the same game. And it's been this way for years, possibly for the last decade. More often than not the team that defeats Duke has more athletic guards. The reason more athletic guards give Duke problems is because Duke plays man to man defense 99% of the time. It's a Coach K staple. He just loves to play aggressive, man to man defense in order to try and make the other team feel uncomfortable. But when the offensive player can dribble past the defender he negates this effect and creates an open shot for himself or another player. That's step one. The next step is to actually make those open shots. And like with Ohio State, Temple made a lot of those shots.

The other thing those more athletic guards do is make it really hard for Duke guards to get open shots. Coach K has no problem letting his shooters take 3 pointers. And like most other seasons, they have been very efficient shooting from 3 this season. This was the reason Riv…

The two sides to Obama's use of presidential power

The big news recently is that Obama signed a bill that would allow him to indefinitely detain people suspected of terrorism. His signing statement ensures us that he won't use it to detain US citizens. But sorry if I don't just take your word for it. Not to mention it's not right to do to non-US citizens. You can't sign this bill and detain people abroad indefinitely and also claim to support human rights for the rest of the world. Basic due process is a fundamental right and without it you can't make a very big claim for supporting freedom.

So we can add this to a list of things Obama claims he has the power to do as president. That list includes, among others I'm sure I'm not remembering: the power to kill people (even US citizens) who he puts on some list because they suspect them of being a terrorist but who don't want to go through the trouble of capturing, the power to send drones to sovereign countries (even allies) and drop bombs on people they …

Ron Paul's honesty

Nearly every article I've read about him since his newsletters have become news have talked about how honest he is and how he speaks truth to power. That's true. And it's an admirable trait for someone to have, especially a modern politician. But I think the fact that this trait has been so admired about Paul recently speaks to just how bad everyone else is on that front.

Ron Paul is way out there on numerous issues; monetary policy, regulation, economic policy in general, and federalism (which encompasses nearly every policy since he would just leave it up to states). I'd even argue that his foreign policy is a bit out there. It's great that he would stop fighting unnecessary wars. But he seems to want to do a lot more than that. And even though I want us to scale back, I don't want us to stop giving monetary and diplomatic aid to the rest of the world. That could be in the same ballpark in terms of danger to us as overreaching is.

Paul says he wants to end …