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Showing posts from February, 2012

Dissatisfaction with Romney

This Yglesias Award nominee from The Dish caught my eye:

"When you have a candidate few people really like, whose support is a mile wide and an inch deep, whose raison d’etre (a 4am fancy word) is fixing an economy that is fixing itself without him, and who only wins his actual, factual home state by three percentage points against a guy no one took seriously only two months ago, there really is little reason for independent voters in the general election to choose him if the economy keeps improving.

Seriously, putting it bluntly, conservatives may not like Barack Obama, but most other people do. And when faced with a guy you like and a guy you don’t like who says he can fix an economy that no longer needs fixing, you’re going to go with the guy you like," - Erick Erickson, RedState.
It mostly caught my eye because it's an honest assessment from a conservative. They could use more of that self-reflection and truth-telling. But I also think this kind of thinking is a produ…

The cost of a life, American vs everyone else

The AP has confirmed reports about CIA drone strikes in Pakistan killing numerous civilians. I'm sure the CIA does it's very best to try and avoid killing civilians. But even the best and most accurate efforts will probably result in at least a few civilians being killed. So that begs the question, why are we willing to kill civilians in order to get to some suspected terrorists?

The political answer is that politicians in the US are so scared of another attack that they will go along with almost anything that would help ensure people are safe. But for the most part I think they vastly overstate the risk involved taking other routes in preventing terrorists from killing people. That is part of why there is basically no outcry against these CIA drone strikes. But I think another reason is that people in the US just don't care about the lives of people in other countries.

How many thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have died because of invasion? Yeah, most Americans no longer …

When is the Republican convention?

I spent all day trying to avoid writing another post on Rick Santorum. I really despise him. But I'm not completely sure I want him to lose because I have to believe Obama would beat him. And he just keeps saying really stupid and crazy things. So I can't really avoid him completely. I'll try to keep it short though.

He either has no clue what he is talking about or he is so cynical that he just says what he thinks crazy conservatives want to hear. The whole college snob thing is ridiculous. He has a masters degree and a law degree. He is the poster boy for what people want college to do for them and their kids. So he is either blind to his own snobbiness or he is full of shit and just wants to pander to conservatives who despise intellectualism. I'm pretty sure he is just full of shit.

The newest religious statements are a bit more difficult to pin down because they are so prevalent on the right. But taking his various comments at face value, they demonstrate a comp…

Today in "Crazy Things Santorum Said"

Here is the latest:

On the president’s efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely ... The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”

He claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,” but declined to cite a source for the figure. And he floated the idea of requiring that universities that receive public funds have “intellectual diversity” on campus.
So the president wants kids to go to college so that they can be indoctrinated. Yeah, I'm sure it has nothing to do with being able to get a job and or just be able to function in society.

He does have a point though. I'm not sure what the real number is, but some good christians do go to college and come out as nihilistic, immoral non-christians. I'm one of those people. But it's not because of indoctrination or.…

Random tv thoughts of the week

Aside from the fact that Community is coming back this has been a pretty good week. How I Met Your Mother actually advanced the main plot of the show. And it finally (probably) ended the romantic possibility of Ted and Robin. Once again, Robin shows why I love her. Even though I've always liked her and Ted together, she stays true to herself and tells Ted to move on with his life without her.

I can understand why Ted was waiting her out, aside from the fact that the show runners wanted to drag it out and make money. Robin is really awesome. And they broke up mainly because they wanted different things out of their relationship at the time. But Robin has changed and might still have strong feelings for Barney. And now Ted can finally move on. So I'm happy the writers didn't screw up Robin.

I watch Justified on Tuesdays. It's good. But since I just started this season I missed a lot of backstory on these characters. So I just can't say a whole lot about the show. O…

Journalist of the day award

Goes to Jake Tapper for his great question for the White House press secretary:

TAPPER: The White House keeps praising these journalists who are — who’ve been killed –

CARNEY: I don’t know about “keep” — I think -

TAPPER: You’ve done it, Vice President Biden did it in a statement. How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistleblowers to court?

You’re — currently I think that you’ve invoked it the sixth time, and before the Obama administration, it had only been used three times in history. You’re — this is the sixth time — you’re suing a CIA officer for allegedly providing information in 2009 about CIA torture. Certainly that’s something that’s in the public interest of the United States. The administration is taking this person to court. There just seems to be disconnect here. You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the Uni…

My sinister stimulus plan, in hindsight

Matt Yglesias talks about the now infamous conversation within the Obama administration regarding how big the stimulus should have been.

The find in question is that Christina Romer initially wanted to say to the president during the transition winter of 2008-09 that a $1.8 trillion stimulus was needed to fill the output gap, but Larry Summers—without disagreeing with her—decided that it would be poor bureaucratic politics to present such a large figure as the high-end range. His calculus was not merely that $1.8 trillion would be politically infeasible in terms of the U.S. Congress, he felt it would be infeasible in terms of the internal politics of the Obama administration, which according to Scheiber featured a split at the very beginning between a Romer/Summers desire to go big on stimulus and Geithner/Orszag concern about freaking out financial markets. Summers wanted to win the inside policy argument, and thought that heading in with a lower ask would make that more likely.
I'…

Our long national nightmare is over

Community will come back on March 15th at 8pm east coast time. My life has meaning again.

Parks and Recreation was doing a decent job of filling the void Community left. But nothing can replace Community; in particular, you can't replace: Troy, Abed, Annie, Annie's boobs, Annie's Boobs, and the rest of the awesome cast. Let's hope the newest episode is the next in a line of episodes that commences in six seasons and a movie.

Israel PM discounts US Chairman of JCS's comments on Iran

Juan Cole nails the analysis. So I encourage you to follow this link and read the whole thing. Here is what Netanyahu said about General Dempsey's comments:

“We made it clear to Donilon that all those statements and briefings only served the Iranians,” a senior Israeli official said. “The Iranians see there’s controversy between the United States and Israel, and that the Americans object to a military act. That reduces the pressure on them.”
That was in response to Dempsey basically saying that it wouldn't be wise to attack Iran right now. And Dempsey's comments about the prospect of attacking Iran mirrors what I've read from most experts, which is that under the best scenarios it would be a very difficult undertaking and the result from even a very successful attack would be unclear and possibly counterproductive. But according to some in the Israeli gov't, you can't provide your voters with such analysis because it hurts Israel's cause. Well, I guess it…

Rick Santorum vs Michelle Bachmann

I hadn't thought of the similarities between the two before I read about Santorum trying to claim that Obama follows a different theology than his, which is a christian one. Thus Santorum is basically saying Obama isn't a christian. This shouldn't matter. In fact, the Constitution stipulates that there should be no religious tests for public office. Anyway. This this got me thinking about Bachmann:

As James Joyner said in his post this morning, we will learn soon enough whether Santorum’s brand of Christianist Theocracy resonates with Republican primary voters. One of two things will happen. Either his religious zealotry and Michele Bachmann level of craziness on public policy will turn voters off so much that they’ll run away from him screaming. Or, his populist message will resonate with voters so strongly that he’ll end up riding a wave all the way to Tampa in August. If that happens, I have no doubt what the result will be in the General Election some three months late…

Kate Upton: too good to be true

That is, if these rumors are correct:

The Victoria's Secret stunner admitted: 'Yeah, he is cute.'
After hearing the model's response, Ellen shouted gleefully: 'She's dating Mark Sanchez!'
She and the athlete have never confirmed their romance, though a source tells Us Weekly that the two aren't in a serious relationship.
The insider said: 'They started hanging out about seven months ago. He's always at her apartment [and] has dropped off gifts and flowers for her. It isn't serious.'
Kate. Darling. Why? Ok, he's a good looking guy. But he's a Jets player. You could do so much better. Aside from your humble blogger, there are plenty of as attractive men out there who don't play for the Jets. I'll let this slide for the time being since you are young. But I expect better decisions in the future.

I find many women attractive. But only a few invoke an open-mouthed, drool-endusing reaction. Kate Upton is one of them. If the …

Virginia's ultrasound law

This article has me sufficiently outraged. I probably can't add much to it beyond the good job Dahlia Lithwick did. But I wanted to touch on one thing that stuck out to me:

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that “in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be "vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant." (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)*
Isn't every decision a lifestyle choice and thus a matter of convenience. For Mr. Gilbert to go to the doctor for a routine checkup or because he has a nasty cough is no different a lifestyle choice than a woman going to the doctor for an abortion. Both m…

Conservative christian hypocrisy

This list is mostly about the Catholic teachings Rick Santorum ignores. But I think it applies pretty broadly to conservative christians. Here are a few of the most important ones:

1. So for instance, Pope John Paul II was against anyone going to war against Iraq I think you’ll find that Rick Santorum managed to ignore that Catholic teaching.

2.The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans. I.e., Rick Santorum’s opposition to universal health care is a betrayal of the Catholic faith he is always trumpeting.

3. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations. (Santorum largely supports executions.)
I think those are important because they deal with protecting life. That is one of the most basic things a gov't does. And it is one of the basic tenants of any religion. Thus I think these are things Santorum and other christians should value the most. Sometimes they understand this, like when they are argui…

Obama's federalism

I love taking conservatives to task for state's rights arguments. It's time to do the same to Obama. Here is one issue where he talked the state's rights talk and is now walking the federal walk:

Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration's high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush. The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to…

Correction on the Issa hearing

Andrew Sullivan links to this explaining the hearing. There were a few women there. But apparently they disagreed with the Obama administration's policy. So I think the characterization of the hearing fits with what I talked about. But at least they had some women there to discuss this issue, the one about contraception and women that isn't really about contraception and women. One less example as to why I won't vote Republican. But there are plenty and the number is still quickly approaching infinity.

It's easy being a conservative pundit

You don't have to think much. You don't have to provide very good logic for your opinions. You just throw your opinion out there and either ignore facts that undermine your argument or claim that those facts were made up as part of a conspiracy against you and your ideology:

PALIN: The media is reeling these numbers, that I do not believe are accurate, when it comes to jobs. I still think it is a jobless recovery that is affecting America right now. … So that 8.3 percent unemployment number is an indicator to President Obama and to his allies in the media to make it look like things are getting better.
So all of the sudden, unemployment numbers aren't accurate. We don't know why. But surely they are. We'll just take her word for it. That's probably something we should look into. Who knows? Maybe we really didn't lose a ton of jobs at the end of Bush's term. It could have just been another plot in the liberal media conspiracy to get Obama elected.

On the…

A perfect song?

I'm not sure if it's because I woke up early or if the coffee just kicked in. But I'm feeling very blog-happy today. Anyway, I wanted to drown out some background noise in the house so I put some music on. I was in a Metallica mood, specifically "And Justice For All". I started with The Shortest Straw and let it run through the album. Then I went back to catch "One", which is probably the most famous song off this album. Here is the studio version:


I think this song has it all. I love when songs start out slow and melodic and gradually or suddenly get fast and heavy. This song does that when the chorus kicks in. But the chorus is heavy and not really that fast. So the tempo change isn't too drastic at first. And then it slows back down going back into the verse. With nearly every band I like there are songs that do this that I just love. 
The thing about "One" is that after the second chorus it goes back into a slow breakdown of sorts at abo…

The best contraception article I've read today

Possibly throughout the whole debate. Here is just part of Gary Wills' argument regarding the contraception debate. I think he makes this point better than I did:

Contraception is not even a religious matter. Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden. Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,” over which natural reason is the arbiter—and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea that contraception is evil. More of that later; what matters here is that contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted even by most Catholics. To say that others must accept what Catholics themselves do not is bad enough. To say that President Obama is “trying to destroy the Catholic Church” if he does not accept it is much, much worse. ...

The opposition to contraception has, as I said, no scriptural basis. Pope Pius XI once said that it did, citing in his encyclical Casti Connubii (1930) the condemnation of Onan for “spilling his seed” rather than i…

Why I won't vote Republican in the foreseeable future: example # some number approaching infinity

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):

“As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”
So a hearing about a policy that provides contraception through employer-payed health insurance is not about contraception. The Administration's actions regarding religious freedom and conscience are specifically pertaining to contraception and reproductive rights. But a hearing about the Administration's actions isn't about contraception and reproductive rights. And because of that air tight logic, we don't need a woman's perspective in our hearing. And we couldn't find a woman to speak on religious freedom and conscience as it pertains to the Administration's actions, which is about the policy of providing contraception.

Got that? Basically, Rep Issa doesn't have a fucking clue. Either that or he doesn&…

Why the Tea Party is supporting Rick Santorum

Conor Friedersdorf continues his nobel pursuit to convince Tea Partiers to not support Santorum. His point is that the Tea Party was supposed to be about:

fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets,' as the Tea Party Patriots' credo put it, the movement had supposedly put social issues on the back burner to focus on the crisis of government growth."
As I said in my post asking if Santorum is a closet liberal (he isn't), Santorum is not a classic conservative. He doesn't believe in limited gov't the way libertarians or some liberals do. I haven't heard him discuss free markets, at least as much as contraception and cultural issues. And I doubt he would be much more fiscally responsible (whatever that means) than Bush or most other GOP candidates.

So why are Tea Partiers showing their support for him? While Conor would like to believe the Tea Party was about those things I quoted above, it wasn't all about those things. I think it was m…

The GOP backlash against contraception

I thought I gave the opposition a fair shake with their view that religious affiliated organizations shouldn't have to pay for contraception for their employees. Unlike many arguments, I thought they had a fair point, even though I ultimately disagreed with their opinion.

But instead of accepting a concession from Obama, they decided to go all out and declare that Obama was waging war on religion. That's bad enough since it's ridiculous and false. But it wasn't surprising. That's been their thing since Obama entered the Democratic primary in 08. What is a bit surprising is that some Republicans in Congress want to take the legislative route in expressing their dislike of the contraception policy:

In their latest move in the battle over contraception coverage, top Republicans in Congress are going for broke: They're now pushing a bill that would allow employers and insurance companies to pick and choose which health benefits to provide based simply on executive…

Is Rick Santorum a closet liberal?

Here he is discussing some differences between conservatives:

This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
Very interesting. If I wasn't told this was Santorum I would have guessed a liberal wrote that, aside from the part about the bedroom and cultural issues.

I think he is partially correct to say most conservatives don't believe in the idea of personal au…

Star Wars Ep. 1

I was planning on avoiding this movie. Not only does it not merit another rewatch, much less spending $10 to see it in a theater. The added 3D element would make it even more annoying than it is on it's own. So I didn't think to write anything about it because it would be largely redundant and it just wasn't on my radar. But thanks to the Bitter Script Reader's post on the unnecessariness of midi chlorians, I had to talk about something I find even more annoying.

The thing that bugged me even more than the midi chlorian thing was Anakin's mom saying there was no father. As the BSR says in that post, we are supposed to assume that there is a biological component to being a Jedi. In fact, that is why Qui Gon asks who the father is. He wants to know why Anakin's midi chlorian count is so high.

So while I completely agree with the post, it's not as if the explanation doesn't make some logical sense. It's just redundant. But a fatherless conception of a…

Obama doesn't like whistleblowers

I've mentioned this in passing while discussing other topics. So I wanted to post this article detailing exactly what the Obama administration is doing as a reference point. Here are some of the details.

The well-reported case of Thomas Drake is an example. As an employee, Drake revealed to the press that the National Security Agency (NSA) spent $1.2 billion on a contract for a data collection program called Trailblazer when the work could have been done in-house for $3 million. The NSA’s response? Drake’s home was raided at gunpoint and the agency forced him out of his job.

“The government convinced themselves I was a bad guy, an enemy of the state, and went after me with everything they had seeking to destroy my life, my livelihood and my person — the politics of personal destruction, while also engaging in abject, cutthroat character assassination and complete fabrication and frame up,” Drake told Antiwar.com. “Marriages are strained, and spouses’ professional lives suffer as m…

Duke vs Carolina

Unbelievable.

I was yelling for Rivers to drive. I hate when guys shoot long jump shots when you only need two points to tie. But Rivers was on tonight and he hit a great shot. That was his best overall shooting performance of the year. Just a great night.

But we needed that incredible ending because Zeller and Hanson completely dominated us inside. I wouldn't have said this before the Miami game and tonight's game. But the Plumlees and Kelly are soft inside. Most of the time they are just bigger or more athletic than the other team. But when they have to face a bigger or more athletic opponent they really struggle.

Barnes was as good as I thought he would be. We had no answer for him. And the guards were as bad defensively as I thought they would be. I guess we are lucky that we gave up a ton of 2 point FGs and not a bunch of 3s. Dickie V kept making the point that we shoot the 3 too much. But that is who this team is. We did shoot more than normal. But we hit about the sa…

Rick Santorum and female priests

I knew I could count on Santorum to be a slump buster. And he delivers with yet another religious topic. Religion has been in political news a lot lately. Abortion, contraception, now priests. Though this is more so news that resides in Santorum's screwy head than something like the Planned Parenthood or contraception stories. Nevertheless:

What they’ve done here is a direct assault on the First Amendment, not only a direct assault on the freedom of religion, by forcing people specifically to do things that are against their religious teachings. . . . This is a president who, just recently, in this Hosanna-Tabor case was basically making the argument that Catholics had to, you know, maybe even had to go so far as to hire women priests to comply with employment discrimination issues. This is a very hostile president to people of faith. He’s a hostile president, not just to people of faith, but to all freedoms.
No one is being forced to do something against their religious teachings…

Sports roundup

Duke lost at home again. our defense is a huge issue. And I think our offense is a bit too inconsistent to just outscore people like Carolina can. Austin Rivers and Seth Curry played well against Miami. But for the first time all season our big men were dominated and we just couldn't make free throws or take smart shots at the end of the game. Really frustrating loss. Speaking of Carolina, if we aren't on our game they might run us off the floor. Harrison Barnes might destroy us by himself since we don't have a small forward. And the guards we have can't defend. So they have little to no shot against Barnes. My hope is that he isn't on and Carolina decides not to play good defense.

I'm a Dolphins fan. So I was rooting against the Patriots. But I wasn't really rooting for the Giants. I don't mind them. But I don't like them either. The only bad thing about the Pats losing is that now we have to hear about Eli being some elite, great QB. I even heard…

The DOJ is still fucked up

It had it's problems under Bush, perhaps most notably with it's beyond ridiculous torture memos. Now it has it's own set of problems under Obama and his AG Eric Holder. Here is the latest in regard to the Fast and Furious scandal:

The ATF sent thousands of high-powered weapons across the border into the hands of the cartel, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds, including a US Border Patrol agent, and Holder is ready to act right now against the people informing Congress of what actually took place in Holder’s organization?
That's par for the course for Obama's DOJ. If I'm remembering the data correctly from a Glenn Greenwald post, Obama's administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than the past several administrations combined. So doing something wrong could be bad. But if you tell the world that someone did something wrong, that's really bad. This whistleblower crackdown is bullshit and the Obama administration should be ashamed. If it ever m…

The contraception debate continues

Andrew Sullivan gives us the latest from both sides. My thoughts here, which I emailed to Andrew and which he posted. That was a huge honor, even though Andrew always posts reader responses anonymously. Here is Scott Lemieux adding to my side of the argument:

[I]f opposition to contraception represented a widely practiced tenet of the Roman Catholic faith, I believe that the government's interest in securing gender equity with a reasonable, generally applicable law should prevail, but I can understand seeing this as a difficult question. But forgoing contraception is not central to the faith of most practicing Roman Catholics. There’s not a genuine clash between religious freedom and pressing government interests here; rather, a small minority of religious leaders are seeking a special exemption that burdens women in the name of principles the overwhelming majority of their followers reject.
That's a similar argument to the one I made, which was basically that a belief against …

Why MItt Romney should worry about the very poor

For any reasonable person, his comment about not worrying about the very poor because there is a safety net is ridiculous enough at first glance. But this data, pointed out by Amy Davidson, makes it even more ridiculous:

Wednesday morning, explaining that his campaign was all about the middle class, he said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.” He also said that he wasn’t worried about the very rich, by which one assumes he means those not in his immediate family. Statistically speaking, though, that amounts to a disproportionate disinterest in children, at least, in children of the sort that his competitor Newt Gingrich would like to see put to work as janitors. According to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, children “are 24 percent of the total population, but 36 percent of the poor population.” (Romney guessed that the not very poor, not very rich made up “ninety, ninety-five” per cent of the p…

Another reason I don't like Bruce Springsteen

The first and most important reason I don't like him is his music. I don't get it. It's bland and his vocals are similar to Bob Dylan, in that I can't understand them. Plus he does something I find really annoying in other genres like country. He always has a guitar but all he does is strum a few basic cords and doesn't even have it turned up enough to hear it. On top of that, he is given the nickname "The Boss" and is worshiped by his fans like he is a freaking Beatle, only a cooler American version. At least some of his fans can see the problems with his image and how it messes with reality:

Ordinary fans who got up at 10AM on Saturday morning when tickets went on sale were shut out, receiving notifications that tickets were unavailable just three minutes after the sale started. A pair of floor tickets for that show were listed for $624 even before tickets went on sale, and by Monday morning, there were more than 80 eBay listings for Springsteen at the V…