Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weak Tea

The election results in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Alabama indicate that the Tea Party had a bad day.

Terry McAuliffe, no one’s idea of a perfect candidate, beat Ken Cuccinelli for governor of Virginia.  Mr. Cuccinelli was the personification of Tea Party ideology with the added touch of evangelical prudery, homophobia, and misogyny.  That the election was close was probably more an indication of Mr. McAuliffe’s utter lack of charm than a late surge of voters in favor of transvaginal probing and banning sodomy.  There’s only so much purity that the voters can take.

In New Jersey, the re-election of Chris Christie sets the stage for the 2016 primary starting today.  Even though rational people know that Mr. Christie is not a moderate centrist Republican by any standard, he’s viewed with deep suspicion by the Tea Party because he once shook hands with Barack Obama and said nice things about him.  That makes him a heretic in the eyes of the Inquisitors, and will doom any chances he has of winning in primaries in places like Texas or the Deep South.

Speaking of the Deep South, a run-off election in Alabama put an establishment Republican in the House over an avowed Tea Partier and birther.  It’s hard to imagine that a bomb-thrower like that could lose in Alabama, but even there they seem to have their limit on the nutsery.

A lot of obituaries have been written about the Tea Party only to have the zombies rise from the grave once again, but it’s pretty hard to see yesterday’s election results as a sign of vigorous health for it.  But rest assured that somewhere in the aftermath of these elections, there is some Republican strategist who is certain that they lost because their candidates weren’t conservative enough.

Other notes from election results: Toledo elected a new progressive mayor; it looks like you won’t be seeing North Colorado license plates any time soon.  Oh, and according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, dancing was on the minds of the electorate:

Proofreading prevetns tyops.

Short Takes

Election results:  Terry McAuliffe wins in Virginia, Chris Christie re-elected in New Jersey; Bill De Blasio elected mayor of New York City.

Illinois passes marriage equality.

Miami votes to improve Jackson Memorial hospital system.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits to smoking crack.

Sen. Rand Paul admits to plagiarism but blames others.

Astrodome faces doom as Houston votes down renovation plan.

Happy birthday, Emdub!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The First Sign of Fall

This isn’t an election year in the sense that we’re voting for Congress or a president next month, but there are two states, Virginia and New Jersey, that are electing governors in November, and they might be seen as a precursor to what fortune might befall the parties when a full election comes around next year.

In Virginia, it’s getting very interesting.

Two weeks from Election Day in Virginia, most observers are getting very comfortable with the idea that Terry McAuliffe will overcome the powerful myth that the party controlling the White House always loses gubernatorial races in the Commonwealth (based on the outcomes of the last nine contests) and beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli, mainly because of Cooch’s extremism but aided by a backlash against the government shutdown engineered by his partisan and ideological friends up the road in D.C.

But today’s Rasmussen poll from Virginia is still startling: it shows T-Mac opening up a 17 point lead on Cooch (50/33, with 8% for Libertarian Robert Sarvis). This is a poll of likely voters, BTW, so it shows a race not terribly vulnerable to surprising turnout patterns.

It’s no secret that Mr. McAuliffe is not a beloved candidate even by folks in his own party.  I’m sure it’s nothing personal; he’s just not a deft campaigner like his old boss, Bill Clinton.  (But then, who is?)  He has the advantage of running against someone who is even more unlikeable in the extreme, and in a race like that, the lesser of the scary ones wins.

In New Jersey, Chris Christie is ahead by a mile.  This will set up an interesting dynamic for 2016 when he is more than likely to make a run for the presidency by portraying himself as the sensible moderate in the field.  The fact that he’s only moderate when compared to people like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio makes it all relative, but this sets the field for a knock-down between the right and the far right.  Throw in Rick Santorum and Rand Paul and you’ll have a race that makes the Jerry Springer show look like Book TV on C-SPAN.

Which means the Democrats could run Alan Grayson and have a real chance of winning.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Reading

Failure Is An Option — Liza Mundy in The Atlantic on how losing is the new winning.

When is a public figure’s failure a sign of abiding character flaws, and when is it a harbinger of growth? When is an attempted comeback a marker of tenacity, and when is it a red flag signifying a delusional lack of self-awareness? And—considering that Louisiana Senator David Vitter is still in office despite the prostitution problem that came to light in 2007—is it even possible, in our scandal-sogged culture, for a politician to permanently fail?

Once upon a time, it was. “In the old days, if you were involved in a scandal, and if it was sufficiently bad, you sort of did the honorable thing. You know: ‘I have committed an unpardonable sin, and I’m going to drop out and never run again,’ ” the political analyst Charlie Cook told me. The failure didn’t have to be full-fledged; it could be a mere foible. In 1972, Edmund Muskie’s presidential candidacy was short-circuited when he was widely believed to have cried during a press conference (a charge he denied); despite his stature in the Senate, he never again enjoyed serious presidential prospects. When, in the course of the 1988 Democratic presidential primary, Gary Hart was discovered to be monkeying around with Donna Rice, he dropped out of the race and went into seclusion. He later attempted a comeback, but it fizzled.

These days, complete failure is less assured. “More people are taking two or three direct torpedo hits to the engine room and trying to keep going,” Cook says. In part, this is because the electorate has grown more understanding of everything from mental instability to marital trouble; thanks are also due to certain politicians who pushed the boundaries of the possible. Cook believes that Bill Clinton’s success in the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic primary, following the Gennifer Flowers scandal, marked a turning point, as did Clinton’s subsequent survival of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The acceleration of the news cycle has also helped to keep failure from sticking the way it once did. As Wendy Mogel, the author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, the seminal adversity-is-good-for-you parenting manual, put it to me, the speed with which one viral scandal displaces another lulls an Anthony Weiner into thinking that he can plausibly argue, “I haven’t done anything wrong since 2012 and a half.”

The public still has its limits, of course; failure at one’s actual job is one. “People really liked Jimmy Carter,” points out the pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center, but his inability to deal effectively with the economy or the Iranian hostage crisis meant “there was no coming back.” Job failure is not the same thing as pre-job failure, however: many politicians lost bids for the presidency before they won. The ur-example may be Richard Nixon, whose legendary goodbye to politics (“You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”) was followed several years later by a presidential victory. We have a robust tradition of electoral loss’s serving as a corrective to hubris. As an incumbent governor, a certain young Arkansas hotshot lost touch with the voters who had put him in the governor’s mansion. He failed to win reelection, won those voters back, and never forgot the lesson.

All of which calls to mind another Clinton. Hillary’s career has absorbed any number of mortal wounds and failures: the implosion of the health-care-reform effort she spearheaded as first lady, her husband’s betrayals, her loss to Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary. Pressing on has only driven up her favorability ratings. “She just gritted it out,” Cook says. “Even a lot of Republicans at the end [of the primary] said, ‘Wow, she showed a lot of character.’ ”

In real life, of course, failure is sometimes just that: failure. Truth is, the current catalogue of pro-failure literature does not celebrate failure in all forms. We like failure when, and only when, it ends in victory. “Lots of people never achieve their goals; they do not achieve their dreams, even though they have worked really hard and prepared themselves,” points out Scott Sandage, a historian and the author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America. “To believe that failure is only a valuable lesson if it leads eventually to triumph really isn’t embracing failure at all. It’s crossing your fingers behind your back that eventually you’re going to succeed.” Victory and loss are often beyond our control, whatever we might like to think about our ability to triumph over circumstance.

Too Nice — Kevin Drum in New York on how the Republicans fixed the farm bill.

Republicans hate domestic spending, but their hatred is not completely indiscriminate. Some programs offend them more, and others less. The general pattern is that social programs offend Republicans to the degree that they benefit the poor, sick, or otherwise unfortunate. The struggle over the farm bill is not the biggest policy dispute in American politics, but it is the one that most clearly reveals the priorities and ideological identity of the contemporary GOP.

The farm bill traditionally combines agriculture subsidies (which hands out subsidies to people on the arbitrary basis that the business they own produces food as opposed to some other goods or services) with food stamps (which hands out subsidies to people on the highly nonarbitrary basis that they’re poor enough to likely have trouble scraping together regular meals). Conservative Republicans revolted against the normally automatic passage, insisting that the cuts to food stamps — $20 billion — did not slice deeply enough. Last night the House rectified its failure by cutting food stamps by $40 billion.

The putative rationale for the food-stamp cuts is that eligibility standards have loosened, or that it encourages sloth. Jonathan Cohn makes quick work of these claims, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes long, detailed work of them. Click on those links if you want a blow-by-blow refutation. The upshot is that food stamps are a meager subsidy, of less than $1.40 per meal, for people either stuck in very low paid jobs or unable to find work at all. Their cost has increased because the recession has increased the supply of poor, desperate people. Republicans have offered specious comparisons to welfare reform, but that law both offered funds for job training and was passed in a full-employment economy. Neither of these conditions holds true of the GOP’s food-stamp cuts, whose only significant result would be the first-order effect of making very poor people hungrier.

Get the Hook — Andy Borowitz says Justice Scalia wants a new pope.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Saying he was “sorry it had to come to this,” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said today that he was forming an “independent search committee” to select a new Pope.

The visibly upset jurist appeared at a press conference with the sole other member of the newly formed search committee, Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Scalia said he had “no other alternative” but to pick a new Pope himself after reading what he called a “disturbing” interview with Pope Francis today: “The Pope said he doesn’t want to speak out against abortion and gay marriage. Well, sorry, my friend, but that’s the entire job description. You should have thought of that before you let them blow that white smoke in Rome.”

Justice Scalia acknowledged that only the College of Cardinals has the legal authority to choose a Pope, but added, “Quite frankly, those jokers got us into this mess. Right, Clarence?”

Justice Thomas had no comment.

Doonesbury — Baby, baby.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Short Takes

President Obama supports plan for Syria to give up control of chemical weapons.

It’s Election Day in New York City.

Museum finds a new Van Gogh painting.

R.I.P. Cal Worthington, L.A. car dealer with crazy ads.

Tropical Update: We now have TS Humberto way out east in the Atlantic, and TS Gabrielle is still churning out there.

The Tigers lost to the White Sox 5-1.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Reading

The Best Result From Congress — James Fallows in The Atlantic articulates why Congress should vote No on going to Syria.

One week ago at exactly this time — it seems like a year — the political world was on waning-moments countdown for the expected U.S. strike on Syria. Then about an hour later, President Obama took the surprising and highly welcome step of saying he would request approval from Congress.

Let me spell out what was implicit in the items I was putting up just before and after the President’s decision. You can find them all collected here, including the one by William Polk that continues to get a lot of attention. In the past few days, like my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates (and for the same reason, the nightmare of actual article-writing), I’ve mainly been off line. Here is how things look to me a week further on:

  1. Obama’s decision to involve Congress is the one clearly positive result of the horrific Syrian civil war. Whatever the reasons for his decision, it will help redress the decades-long distortion in executive and legislative power over military action.
  2. If I had a vote in Congress, I would vote No. I wasn’t sure of that a week ago, as I’ll explain below. But it is how I feel now because of this next reason #3.
  3. The President and many of his supporters have made an ironclad case that something should be done about the disasters and atrocities in Syria. But they have barely even tried to make a case that the right something is U.S. airstrikes without broad international support. Thus:
  4. Obama himself should hope that the Congress turns him down. A No vote would offer a legitimate if temporarily “humiliating” way out of what is looking more and more like an inexplicable strategic mistake.

Now the details.

On why Obama’s decision was so valuable: I gave part of my explanation nine days ago. Garrett Epps explained the legal and historical reasoning around the same time. Zachary Karabell talked about the (wholesome) political implications yesterday. Many others have stressed the same thing. Overall: since at least the Vietnam era, people on all sides of American politics have lamented the seemingly unstoppable rise of an Imperial Presidency. Obama may not have had this in mind a month ago or even a week ago, but his decision will help brake (and break) that trend.

On why I was ready to hear his case, once he decided to make it to Congress: I had obviously been skeptical of unilateral military involvement Syria. A week ago we were headed toward action that was unilateral in two ways. One was the absence of UN, NATO, EU, UK, or other broad alliances that have been amassed for nearly all modern military strikes. The other was the domestic unilateralism of Obama’s deciding this all on his own.

For me, the very fact of going to Congress made the plan presumptively more legitimate. If we went ahead, it would be a national decision, not one man’s choice. A broader and more systematic U.S. process might in turn attract wider allied backing — which in its turn could mark any action as a defense of truly international, not just American, norms. And the need to testify and debate in Congress, even this madhouse Congress, would ensure that basic questions about evidence, plans, and contingencies got asked and (presumably) answered. Therefore I thought a week ago that after hearing a case made, in these legitimizing circumstances, I could imagine being convinced that Congress should offer the support that the president, to his credit, had requested rather than assumed. Overall, we might have a least-worst outcome: bipartisan agreement, American leadership, reinforcement of the anti-chemical norm.

On why I would now vote No:  From what I can tell, approximately 100% of the pro-strike arguments have been devoted to proving what no one contests. Namely, that hideous events are underway in Syria, that someone (and most likely Assad) has criminally and horrifically gassed civilians, and that something should be done to reduce the ongoing carnage and punish the war crimes. And approximately 0% of the argument has addressed the main anti-strike concern: whether U.S. military action, minus broad support, any formal international approval, or any clear definition of goal, strategy, or success, is an effective response.

For instance, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, with whom I usually agree, argues powerfullysomething should be done to and for Syria. His case for missile strikes is that they “just might, at the margins, make a modest difference.” If anyone has seen a defense that says, “These steps, in this way, match means to objective, and have the following path to success,” please let me know.

There is such a thing as too much caution in committing force, often known as McClellanism after the reluctant-warrior Union commander at the start of the Civil War. (Leading of course to the famous line attributed to Lincoln, “If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”) And nations, like individuals, predictably over-learn the lessons of their most recent mistakes.

But even if the Iraq-war disaster had not happened, even if the tiny handful of Americans who are in the military had not been worn out through a decade-plus of nonstop deployments, any decision about use of force should be accompanied by answers to these most basic questions:

– What, exactly, is its goal?

– How will we know if our plan has succeeded or failed?

– What happens after we make our first move? In this case, suppose the Assad regime, or Iran, or Russia, responds in a way we don’t anticipate. What second- and third-round moves are we allowing for?

– Is our choice really as stark as turning our back, or sending in bombs?

Many past items have gone into one or more of these questions. For instance, on basic questions, please check out this. Maybe Obama and his team have answers. If so, he had better start sharing them. For now he has not come close to making the case that, while “something” should be done, this is the right something. As the young Obama himself said so memorably 11 years ago, “What I am opposed to is dumb wars.”

“They Ripped Him Apart” — From Pauls Toutonghi in Salon, searching for answers in a gay teen’s suicide.  A long read but very well worth it.

On the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, Jadin Bell—the only openly gay student at La Grande High School, in La Grande, Ore.—left his home, on foot, in 20-degree weather. He walked down Walnut Street to the campus of Central Elementary—past the empty bike racks, past four leafless cherry trees and a single, white-barked birch. He sent a text message to his friend, Tara, telling her where to find his suicide note. Then he climbed onto the school’s playground equipment. He hanged himself with a length of rope. He was fifteen years old.

Doctors later told the family that the rope had deprived Jadin of oxygen for roughly nine minutes—nine minutes before a passing stranger had seen him, and taken him down, and begun to administer CPR. Those nine minutes, while not immediately fatal, had been enough to shut down all activity in his brain. Though paramedics had restored his heartbeat during the flight to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Jadin never regained consciousness. On January 29, his parents, Joe Bell and Lola Lathrop, made the decision to take him off of life support.

“He was having seizures at that point,” Bell later told me. “It made it so he didn’t suffer anymore.”

Still, Jadin lived for five days without food or water. In La Grande, the small logging town in eastern Oregon’s Union County, 200 residents held a candlelight vigil at the library. At a school assembly, students shared stories about Jadin and sang—with a soft, tremulous cadence—“Lean on Me.” Details of Jadin’s story filtered out through the media. He’d been taunted and harassed by his peers—both in person and on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram—because of his sexuality. “He was different from the mainstream,” said family friend Bud Hill, “and they tend to pick on the different ones.”

When he finally died on Feb. 3, Jadin’s suicide became part of the nation’s ongoing dialogue about bullying. Salon wrote an article about him, as did the Huffington Post. Nationally syndicated sex advice columnist Dan Savage reiterated his call for parents to home-school their gay teenagers, if home schooling was what the teens, themselves, requested, “because you don’t want to find out the abuse was more than your kid could bear when it’s too fucking late to do anything about it.”

As a recent father of twins, this story wouldn’t leave me alone. It lingered, with granular specificity, in the fabric of my imagination. So much of the joy of the early years of parenting, for me, was the physicality of my kids’ bodies—the way it felt to lift and to hold them, to smell the buttery scent of their skin, to pull them close against me. Now, I imagined the converse of this: Jadin’s parents, watching their son die in his bed in the pediatric ICU, beloved but unreachable, a compression bandage holding the IV in his wrist, his immobile body tucked into the starched cotton sheets of the hospital bed.

Jadin’s death opened a deep reservoir of some kind within me. Because when I was 15 years old, I, too, tried to kill myself. I, too, was a bullied teenager who was unable to fit in, anywhere. And though I survived—though it did, in fact, get better—it wasn’t linear, or quick, or predictable. It took many years for my life to improve. Today, as an adult, I still struggle to overcome the feelings that nearly killed me 20 years ago—and I live in fear of their replication, someday, in my daughter, or my son.

Florida Flails — Fred Grimm at the Miami Herald on Florida fighting yet another losing case in court.

Pam and Rick were hanging out in Tallahassee last week, putting our government priorities in order. They wondered, “What can we do to improve the lives of Floridians?”

Of course, you already know the answer. Couldn’t be more obvious. We’ll trick out 18-year-olds with handguns.

Yes, indeed. We who can not abide the notion of an 18-year-old bellying up to the bar for a Budweiser sure as hell want to spend taxpayer money to insure the same knucklehead can buy himself a Beretta.

So Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has committed state resources to that great cause and joined yet another quixotic lawsuit, this one against the United States government. Bondi added Florida to a list of NRA subsidiary states seeking to overturn a 45-year-old federal law that forbids licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to anyone under 21.

It’s another likely loser of a case. Like Rick and Pam’s futile attempt to overturn the Affordable Health Care Act. Over the last few years, the Scott years, we’ve frittered away hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in court defending an ideological agenda. State lawyers and pricey outside law firms have been dispatched to state and federal court to defend, without much success, the privatization of prisons, drug testing of welfare recipients, drug testing of state workers (though not state legislators or the governor) the shifting of pension costs onto state workers, and election laws designed to tamp down turnout among minority voters.

The Story of # — Keith Houston at The New Yorker explains where some of our more obscure punctuation (#, &, >, ¶) comes from.

Octothorpe (#)

01-octothrope.jpgLeft, from the pen of Isaac Newton; right, detail from Johann Conrad Barchusen’s “Pyrosophia” (1698). Courtesy the Othmer Library of Chemical History, Chemical Heritage Foundation.

The story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century, with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation “lb,” for the Roman term libra pondo, or “pound weight.” Like many standard abbreviations of that period, “lb” was written with the addition of a horizontal bar, known as a tittle, or tilde (an example is shown above, right, in Johann Conrad Barchusen’s “Pyrosophia,” from 1698). And though printers commonly cast this barred abbreviation as a single character, it was the rushed pens of scribes that eventually produced the symbol’s modern form: hurriedly dashed off again and again, the barred “lb” mutated into the abstract #. The symbol shown here on the left, a barred “lb” rendered in Isaac Newton’s elegant scrawl, is a missing link, a now-extinct ancestor of the # that bridges the gap between the symbol’s Latin origins and its familiar modern form. Though it is now referred to by a number of different names—“hash mark,” “number sign,” and even “octothorpe,” a jokey appellation coined by engineers working on the Touch-Tone telephone keypad—the phrase “pound sign” can be traced to the symbol’s ancient origins. For just as “lb” came from libra, so the word “pound” is descended from pondo, making the # a descendent of the Roman term libra pondo in both name and appearance.

Bonus Video — If you have been paying attention to the New York City mayoral race, the one thing that stands out — so to speak — is the spectacular demise of former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s campaign.  Stateless Media put together a short documentary on how the race went from being about the issues and the state of the city to being about anything except that.

Doonesbury — Fire, dude.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Manly Manliness from A Man’s Man

As noted briefly yesterday, Corey Booker doesn’t care if people think he’s gay or not.  Steve Lonegan, his opponent for the Senate, however, is trying to make sure that voters know that he’s got the straight thing covered.

Booker’s Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, was asked about Booker’s response by Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg this afternoon, and said he didn’t know if Booker is gay but thought it was “weird” that he was unwilling to answer the question, speculating that maybe “it helps get him the gay vote by acting ambiguous.”

But Lonegan was sure of one thing: Steve Lonegan is a real man because “as a guy, I personally like being a guy” and he is certainly not one of those sorts who goes in for things like manicures and pedicures like Cory Booker does!

“It was described as his peculiar fetish,” Lonegan said. “I have a more peculiar fetish: I like a good Scotch and a cigar, that’s my fetish. But we’ll just compare the two.”

Thanks for clearing that up, and on behalf of the entire gay community, may I say “Whew!”

PS: Mr. Lonegan let a reporter from TPM ride along with him for a day.  He’s a font of unfiltered right-wing wisdom, including anti-immigrant fear-mongering and “I got mine fuck you” boot-strapism.  At least he’s going down frothing.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Booker Prize

Not that I have a horse in the race, but it was fun to watch Steve Lonegan, the Republican nominee for the Senate in New Jersey on “Up with Steve Kornacki,” basically bury his chances of beating Democrat Corey Booker all by himself.

Republican New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan called federal relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm that devastated the Jersey Shore last October and left thousands of people homeless, “over the top.”

“I disagreed with Governor Christie and President Obama on Hurricane Sandy funding,” he told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki Saturday. “I thought it was just too much money.” Lonegan said he was concerned that there weren’t enough safeguards to ensure money went to homeowners instead of government programs, saying “There’s all kinds of pork barrel spending in that bill.”

Lonegan, the former mayor of Botoga, New Jersey, also said he would support shutting down the government in order to eliminate funding for the Affordable Care Act.

“Yes. In fact, I think it’s time to draw a line in the sand on the spending problem that’s taking place in this country, this explosion of debt reliance on government,” he said.

Yeah, that should go over really well along the Jersey shore.

Mr. Lonegan offered no proof of the pork barrel spending unless he was talking about places other than New Jersey such as Virginia and Maryland that also got hit by the storm and needed assistance.  He also trotted out all the old Reagan-era cliches about bootstraps and how his sainted mother didn’t need any help from the evil government when she was left widowed.  The only thing he left out was the story of the welfare Cadillac and the T-bones.

And he never answered the age-old question of why someone who hates government so much would want to work for it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

From The Smaller Government/More Freedom Files

Read this and then answer the questions below:

In an unusual move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee for governor, launched a new campaign website Wednesday highlighting his efforts to reinstate Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law. The rule, which makes felons out of even consenting married couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own homes, was struck down by federal courts after Cuccinelli blocked efforts to bring it in line with the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

Question 1: Explain how the authorities will have probable cause to know that someone is violating (ha ha) the law.

Question 2: In what world does this fit into the conservative philosophy of smaller government means more freedom, which includes the right of consenting adults to do whatever the hell they want to in the privacy of their own home as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or frighten the horses?

Question 3: Since when does a blow job constitute a crime against nature?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

Short Takes

The N.S.A. went after more than just Verizon.

Israel keeps a wary eye on Syria’s border fighting.

I.R.S. official apologizes for lavish conferences.

Student loan plans go down to defeat in the Senate.

Gov. Christie names N.J. attorney general as interim senator.

R.I.P. Esther Williams, 91, star of MGM water musical spectaculars.

Tropical Update: TS Andrea soaked Florida.  Meanwhile, another disturbance takes shape.

The Tigers beat the Rays

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Short Takes

U.S. sending Patriot missiles and jet fighters to Jordan.

Evacuations urged after Missouri levee breaks.

Special election set in October for New Jersey senator.

Gordon Gee to retire as president from Ohio State after poking fun at Notre Dame.

The tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma, last week was the largest on record.

Tropical Update: The first disturbance could go anywhere.

The Tigers beat the Rays 10-1.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tough Act To Follow

With the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Gov. Chris Christie (R) has a bit of a dilemma.

According to the law, he’s supposed to appoint a successor and then set a date for an election to replace the late senator.  But since Mr. Lautenberg was a Democrat and Mr. Christie is a Republican, politics — as usual and as expected — enters into the picture.  The New York Times:

…the decision is fraught with pitfalls, none bigger than having to choose between improving his party’s fortunes in Washington and furthering his own political ambitions at home.

Mr. Christie, a Republican, is up for re-election in November and hoping to secure a huge victory margin, which he could then use to accelerate his drive to present himself as a presidential candidate with broad appeal even in a blue state.

But adding a special election for the Senate seat to the ballot could put Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark at the top of the Democratic ticket, potentially energizing more Democrats, who already outnumber Republicans in New Jersey by 700,000 registered voters, to come to the polls.

Mr. Christie could appoint a placeholder — someone who promises not to run for the full term when the election comes around — but then he has to choose whether to pick a Republican placeholder, which will energize the Democrats, or he can choose a Democrat, which will turn the hardcore base Republicans against him and screw his chances for a national ticket.

Get the popcorn.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Saying It Out Loud

E.W. Jackson is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia, and he is rapidly overshadowing Ken Cuccinelli, the candidate for governor, with his over-the-top remarks about anyone to the left of Genghis Khan.  He’s gone after gays, abortion providers — comparing Planned Parenthood to the Klan, for example — and a few other bon mots.

Asked about his wide variety of condemnations and whether or not he might want to dial it back, he has no intention of apologizing.

“I say the things that I say because I’m a Christian, not because I hate anybody, but because I have religious values that matter to me,” Jackson told reporters at a campaign stop in Fredericksburg. “Attacking me because I hold to those principles is attacking every church-going person, every family that’s living a traditional family life, everybody who believes that we all deserve the right to live. So I don’t have anything to rephrase or apologize for. I would just say people should not paint me as one-dimensional.”

Yeah, so now you can get away with being a sniveling bigot because you’re a Christian, and anyone who disagrees with you is the hater, not you.  So you can get away with it because of your faith.

That’s the same logic of every other religious fanatic that has wiped out millions of non-believers.

The man is a laughingstock, to be sure, but he’s not just one extreme example.  He sounds a lot like a large portion of the GOP base: he’s just saying it out loud.