May 2010

I can’t believe people let the 70’s be over.  Big mistake, guys.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re living in the year nineteen hundred and seventy-forty.

It seems like only yesterday that the hopes of a nation were set aflame by too-good-to-be-true rumors that secession may be in the near future for that ungainly chunk of America’s underbelly commonly referred to as Texas (the City of Austin notwithstanding, which should be partitioned and bisected not unlike the Berlin of old – in the days before Reagan toppled the wall with forceful words that he totally meant which can pretty much achieve anything in the realm of foreign policy) .

At the time, Governor Rick Perry was all in a snit because the federal government was interfering in sovereign state business by threatening to shovel loads of stimulus cash Texas’s way, with equally nefarious plots to extend unemployment benefits and increase health insurance coverage for that State’s put-upon citizens.  So, to shield Texas’s chastity from such lascivious liberal degradation, he was going to call the whole “union” thing off.

My friends, prepare to be disappointed:

Back when the economic recovery package (i.e. “the stimulus”) was being debated, a handful of Republican governors garnered headlines by rejecting various portions of the funding. One of the loudest critics of the legislation was Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX).

At the time, Perry said rejecting the money “was pretty simple for us. … We can take care of ourselves.” “I am so concerned about the belief that has gained a foothold in our national consciousness that the best and only way to solve our nation’s problems is to drown them with taxpayer dollars,” Perry also said, adding that, with regard to the stimulus, Texas should “look a gift horse in the mouth.”

The Texas state legislature eventually pushed Perry to accept the money, but even in his official acceptance letter, Perry wrote that “I believe there are better ways to reinvigorate our economy and believe [the bill] will burden future generations with unprecedented levels of debt.” However, as the Wall Street Journal noted this morning, the stimulus is the reason that Texas currently has a balanced budget:

[T]he economic downturn is catching up with Texas. Sales-tax revenue started falling in February 2009 compared with the previous year, and only started to recover a bit in April of this year. Although Mr. Perry has railed against the federal economic-stimulus program, billions of dollars from that initiative helped Texas legislators balance the current budget.

Texas faces an $18 billion shortfall in its next two-year budget, which amounts to 20 percent of the total. And Perry’s refusal to consider tax increases is setting the state up for draconian cuts. “There is no way that they will be able to come up with $18 billion in cuts,” said Eva DeLuna Castro, a senior budget analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “They would have to shut down our prison system.”

We’re never gonna get this guy off our collective federal teet now.  But wait.  What if he just tries out some of those “better ways to reinvigorate the economy,” and then is all like, “later, commies, we’re off to celebrate our libertarian paradise (with free market discrimination) with all the extra cash that I just created by abolishing taxes and all government regulations.”

What?  It could happen.

First of all, I want to thank the Rev. Dr. King for that terrific warm-up. I only just met Dr. King, but I was proud to march briefly with him prior to the whole ugliness with the cameras and the water cannons turning up, and will be thinking of his brave (if wrong-headed) statements later this afternoon as my chauffer, Lewis — who regrets that he was unable to march with us today, as he was occupied washing my limo — drives me back home. Dr. King, thank you, and speaking as an acknowledged master of the arts of oration and rhetoric, I must say that you’ve really come a long way in a short while, and should absolutely keep at it.

My friends — and I call you my friends, as opposed to my employees or lessers, because today that’s what you are — we stand here at a moment of decision. We share the same goals: that the freedom to luxuriate in wealth and privilege be extended to all of those with the talent and perspicacity to achieve them, insofar as that freedom does not impinge on the freedom to luxuriate in wealth and privilege that I am superior enough to already enjoy. All of us know that the greatest burden a man can carry is to be free when others are less free, or to know that others who might wish to be free might make he who is currently free feel less free in certain ways. But I think I, as a man who has carried the great burden of freedom his whole life, might be able to help you find a freer path to that freedom which you desire, and which I believe that you should generally be able to seek, as long as it does not affect my laudably free lifestyle in any meaningful way.

What I have to tell you, my friends — and again I call you my friends, even though I’ve never met most of you and would likely find you boring or repellent if I were to do so, because part of my burden is my tremendous magnanimity — is this: freedom is hard. Freedom doesn’t just happen. It’s not something you can legislate. It’s not something the government can attempt to provide. You can’t gain freedom by working diligently to remove an entrenched political and social structure explicitly designed to prevent you from having freedom. No. Freedom is something you have to patiently wait for the free market to provide.

Now, I understand that this may sound foreign to you, noble people who have never been free. But believe me, I’ve been free all my life, and I know you can’t achieve what I was born into just by working for it. You have to look deep into yourself and find the strength to fail to take any affirmative action whatsoever. Only then, by avoiding any attempt to use the levers of power to achieve your ends, will you gain the freedom that is my cross to bear. Or you may not, but in a way, that’s just as well, because if you did gain that freedom by some means it might be problematic for me in an unspecified way. But the key thing is for you to stop actually working for freedom. That’s number one. Unless it’s my freedom to pay less taxes, actually. That would be quite noble of you.

And the truth is, my friends — can you believe I said that again? I’m a prince — that you may not even want the freedom you think you do. Because — and again I speak as someone painfully familiar with the affliction of freedom — freedom is hard. Freedom is suffering. Freedom is knowing that somebody you vaguely acknowledge as human will never have the advantages you do. Freedom is staring in the face of total selfishness and realizing that someday that will — must! — be you. Freedom is walking among the poor, the downtrodden, the disadvantaged of this world and keeping your eyes firmly shut, your fingers in your ears, lest they turn you from your lonely course. To quote the male songwriter secretly employed by Janis Joplin’s record company, freedom’s just another word for my never losing anything.

Thank you, and knock it off.

… addendum by Sifu: I can’t believe imaginary Rand Paul didn’t know that “Me and Bobby McGee” wasn’t actually written for Janis.

It’s that most wonderful time of the year – the time when global warming “skeptics” gather together to demonstrate a complete absence of any skepticism about global warming denial.  The damned liberal media won’t cover it, of course, because GAY ACORN killed Vince Foster when he saw Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate and so on and so forth, but there are other ways of making your scene.  Exxon-Mobile provides the hors d’œuvres, while the blogosphere provides a steady diet of whores to devour them.  The exception is Insane Clown Pundit Roger Simon, who is too busy gobbling Pantomime Lord Christopher Monckton‘s royal knob to partake.  I believe this is exactly what happened to proto-global warming skeptic Galileo, when the Inquisition stuck failed screenwriters on his jock until he recanted.  Or whatever, I don’t know.  Also covering this event are the sad, sad people who like laughing at fucking idiots in order to feel better about their hollow and meaningless lives, and, also, in an entirely different category, me.

The “Jesus didn’t have a pet dinosaur” skeptics over at the Discovery Institute are watching as well, and keeping us abreast of all the latest revelations:

An emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington State University (Bellingham, WA), Don Easterbrook, says we are in for global cooling for another twenty years or so.

It certainly seems so this spring. Winter on the East Coast was grim and summer temperatures are hard to find now in the West. Snowfall also higher than in decades past.

It doesn’t mean anything except this: there is (and should be) a real debate.

There should indeed be a real debate, and it should be on the subject of “what kind of degenerate moron can’t understand the difference between ‘climate’ and ‘weather’?”  Here, let me get the discussion rolling: morons like you.

Oh, and the NRC released three new reports saying how fucked we are, because one or two reports would not be enough to contain all the we’re-fuckedness.  All of which is clearly designed to divert attention from the important issue of Al Gore’s beard.

Camille Paglia:

First of all, I reject the idea that the “birther” campaign is motivated by racism. There may be racism among it, but there are legitimate questions about the documentation of Obama’s birth certificate. I’m sorry, I’ve been following this closely from the start. To assume that all those signs about the birth controversy were motivated by racism, that is simply wrong.

Also, polar bears can swim.  True fact.

Well I must say. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Republicans in general, but this is just shocking. Josh Marshall is reporting that Rand Paul, teabagger icon and son of a libertarian conservative so hardcore that he hung on to his high school pledge to name one of his children after Ayn Rand, may be ungracious, perhaps egotistical, and something of an elistist? Mr. Marshall had better knock off this scurrilous rumor-mongering lest the younger Mr. Paul take his secret, genius plan to save America from the socialist one-world-government and go home to his high-tech volcanic lair where he and the other supermen will style their wavy, wavy hair and mock us poor schlubs out here in the salt mines of mere adequacy.

… not just elitist, but messianic! How could I have forgotten messianic? Atlas wept.

Rock-ribbed American conservative foreign policy savant Daniel Pipes uses his entirely not-creepy knowledge of beauty pageants to uncover a pattern of liberals pandering to the Islamofascists.  Michelle Malkin points out that she obviously won because she supports birth control.  So, to sum up – wingnuts hate when Muslim women wear revealing outfits, express political opinions, and have open discussions about sexual health.  And they superhate the new Miss USA.  Miss UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  How very interesting.

Don’t let it bother you, Miss Fakih.  They hate you for your freedom.

Matthew Yglesias:

Charli Carpenter comments:

[W]hat ought to be done to change this trend [towards restricted civil liberties] – in other words, is it too late for dissent to make a difference? I welcome readers’ ideas. I think many voters thought they’d already taken the appropriate step by electing a progressive, pro-civil liberties leader.With the writing on the wall, what now?

I don’t think the answer to her question is particularly difficult—people who want to halt the erosion of civil liberties need to do a better job of persuading people that the erosion of civil liberties would be a bad thing.

The answer is not particularly difficult, true, but that isn’t much of an answer.  The problem is not that people necessarily think that the loss of civil liberties is an absolute good – it is that they believe that preserving civil liberties is less important than protecting themselves from scary terror.  (It doesn’t hurt that the civil liberties being traded away are generally those of other people – witness the outrage among “civil libertarians” when an American’s life is (openly) judged to be less than infinitely more precious than a foreigner’s.)  It is generally assumed to be a coincidence that the period of curtailed civil liberties and the period of bombing and/or invading the shit out of x many countries overlap so perfectly, but it is not.   As long as people are told that a threat is great enough to justify going to war, they are going to make the sorts of judgments people always make during war, and those generally involve doing things which do not demonstrate a healthy respect for other people’s inalienable human rights, for example: killing them.  You can argue that people should refuse to do these things, and perhaps you are right, and in order to test the real-world value of such arguments I propose an experiment.  We go to the race track, and we make a private bet: I put $100 the horse that wins every race, and you bet on the horse that loses every race but really should win goddammit!!!!, and at the end of the night we’ll see who comes out ahead.  I’m willing to continue this experiment for as long as it takes.

If you want to stop people – including Presidents – from making the decisions that people and Presidents have always made during wartime, you have to make it not wartime.  And the way you do that is by ending the war.  But, you whine, isn’t this just shifting from one impossible goal to another? Of course it isn’t, it is exactly the opposite, as you would realize if you let the occasional thought interrupt your incessant whining.  While history tells every war reduces civil liberties, it also tells us that every single war ever fought eventually ends – look back as far as you like, it only gets truer.  What this requires is acknowledging that there is little actual threat posed to the United States of America by people in Afghanistan or Pakistan who lack the skill required to cause combustion in gasoline.  This would seem to be a fairly simple step, but both Left and Right have invested a great deal of effort in arguing that “deadly terrorism proves that I was right all along,” there may be some egos shattered as a result.  Consider it collateral damage, a necessary sacrifice in the War on the War on Terror.  Because if we don’t end the war on terror, the loser terrorists have already won.


Elena Kagan is not a lesbian, one of her best friends told POLITICO Tuesday night, responding to persistent rumors and innuendo about the Supreme Court nominee’s personal life.

“I’ve known her for most of her adult life and I know she’s straight,” said Sarah Walzer, Kagan’s roommate in law school and a close friend since then. “She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men — who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago – and she just didn’t find the right person.”

But, but … she plays softball!  It’s like the more you find out about this woman, the less you know!  Hmm.  Maybe she’s one of those “man-dating lesbians” I heard about that time I listened to Rush Limbaugh with my earmuffs on.  We need some kind of tie-breaker here.  How many cats does she have?

Another friend, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, a member of Kagan’s social circle at Princeton University, wanted to make the same point as Walzer. “I did not go out with her, but other guys did,” he said in an email Tuesday night. “I don’t think it is my place to say more.”

Discretion – your watchword as always, Gentle Sir.  OK, so she was very … active … socially.  But does this alone give us enough of a window into her judicial philosophy?  For example: will she adhere strictly to the original intent of the Founders, or will she just believe whichever lawyer looks most like Richard Dean Anderson?  And how will she fit in with the other members of the court?  It’s a good thing David Souter is retired, because he’s a sensitive boy, and I doubt his mother would leave him unsupervised with a young lady like that.  God, she’d eat him alive.

The Editors, yesterday:

Liberals complain that Obama hasn’t changed tactics in the War On Terror, but that is not true.  He has, for example, banned torture [...]

Reality, today:

The US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, the Red Cross has confirmed to the BBC.

Mirwais was watering his plants one night when American soldiers came to get him.

He is still missing half a row of teeth from the beating he says he got that night and he says he cannot hear properly in one ear.

US troops accused him of making bombs and giving the Taliban money.

Mirwais says he was taken to the ‘black jail’.

More, and more.  Honestly, I am beginning to suspect that war is bad.

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