Category Archives: Politics

Sunday morning linkage

A look at how much Tea Party groups spend on fundraising vs. what actually goes to candidates.
•RIP Aero. The company that planned to deliver broadcast TV over the Internet lost against the broadcasters (who claimed this violated copyright) and now failed to get itself reclassified as a cable company.
•Jim Fallows looks at the parade of Iraq “experts” who were completely wrong about the merits and outcome of attacking Iraq before, but are still taken seriously as worth of consideration. Case in point, William Kristol and Fred Kagan, who insisted back in 2002 that “The Iraqi threat is enormous. It gets bigger with every day that passes.” No argument with Fallows here—I’ve mentioned before how pundits almost never suffer (at least in terms of being taken seriously by their publishers) for being massively wrong.
•Best way to keep women virgins until marriage: Make ‘em marry young. Courtesy of defeating the dragons.
•A place in Europe where crossing borders is fun!
•LGM argues (as it has before) that Obama is indeed the most liberal president in recent history, and discusses the difficulties in shifting the “Overton Window.”
•Increasing discussion of campus rape has some male students worried asking a woman out will get them tarred as a rapist/harasser. This is actually an old, old bugaboo—as one student says, better training about consent and harassment and which is which might help a lot.

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But wait, there’s much much more links!

Apparently Tyler Cowen and David Brooks aren’t the only ones worried that people are just too godless and immoral these days. Libertarian Rachel Lu, another believer this is the Hour of the Libetarians worries that too many libertarians are “libertines” who “are indifferent to community and traditional morals” in contrast to the “virtue libertarians” who are “zealous for family, faith, civic virtue and traditional values.” And that shrinking government isn’t going to do any good “unless people have a strong ability to govern their own affairs.” Which requires that the culture step in for government and impose “norms and expectations … What we need, in short, are traditional morals. These tried-and-true norms for good behavior were developed precisely for the purpose of ordering human life in the context of families and small communities.”
As I’ve mentioned in past posts, this is why I don’t foresee an alliance with libertarians in my future. Theoretically they want government out of our business affairs and personal affairs. In practice, many of them either skew to traditional socially conservative positions or embrace them to make common cause with conservatives. Lu is the former (I had to click through a couple of links to get there but get there I did), a devout Catholic with what I gather are orthodox positions on gays, birth control, premarital sex etc. And in the time-honored tradition, she seems to think the alternative to traditional morals is chaos and moral anarchy (it’s not. Supporting gay marriage, birth control and keeping the government out of our bedrooms is a perfectly moral position).
•Several good links here at Slacktivist, including a conservative pro-lifer whose anti-toplessness proposals would reportedly ban public breastfeeding. Which leads to things like this.
More from Slacktivist, including right-winger inability to tell a frat handshake from a gang sign.
•Minorities are not only bullied in Ferguson, they’re a cash cow for fines and court fees.
•Bank of America pays a record $17 billion settlement for shady deals in mortgage securities.
•A restaurant backs off making wait-staff pay the processing fees when customers use credit cards.
•Comcast admits one customers didn’t run up a $343 bill (it was the previous tenant) but still demands she pay it. Another customer gets told he’s only getting a charge refunded because he taped the service rep promising it.

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Ferguson and other links

Slate looks at all the different constitutional violations involved in police conduct in Ferguson. And Defeating the Dragons provides a good overview with links.
•A Washington Post column by a former cop reminds us that we have the right to refuse an illegal, warrantless search or walk away if the cop doesn’t have grounds to detain us. Only the columnist also says that you should never, ever exercise these rights and that if you do, what comes next is your own fault: “if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you … Later, you can ask for a supervisor, lodge a complaint or contact civil rights organizations if you believe your rights were violated. Feel free to sue the police! Just don’t challenge a cop during a stop.” Because cops are worried about their safety and people who disagree are apparently automatically dangerous (hat tip to LGM).
•Just as libertarians saw Ferguson as the turning point for libertarianism. George Will’s take is that it shows the evil’s of Big Government and proves that if you regulate sugary snacks, you’re inevitably going to have militarized police shooting black people because big government so there! No explanation for why this supposed total state control co-exists simultaneously with a steady gutting of environmental regulation and a failure to deal with climate change. And as one pundit points out local government is the one causing problems in Ferguson.
•Egypt probably took a lot of pleasure in lecturing the US on protecting the rights of minorities in Ferguson.
•Megan McArdle has decided we’d be much better off if Hilary Clinton had won in 2008 because she wouldn’t have given us health care reform, and that was what inspired the Tea Party and Republican intransigence. At the link, LGM demolishes the argument. Suffice to say, McArdle’s wrong, as she usually is.
•Slacktivist points out that for many people, defending religious freedom translates into oppressing the other side or securing your own sect’s power. And that cries to protect American Christians in the current violence in Iraq ignores that they’re not any worse off or more entitled to protection than Muslim sects or ethnic groups. “All you need to know is that it is the inevitable result of any situation in which the 95 percent majority is able to disregard the rights of the 5 percent minority. Or in which the 40 percent plurality is able to disregard the rights of all the smaller factions. Wherever rights are contingent, there will be conflict. Wherever religious freedom is contingent on which sect controls the sectarian government, there will be sectarian conflict.”
•Also on Iraq, Digby reminds us that ISIS isn’t an existential threat to us any more than Saddam, or Vietnam or all those South and Central American governments we overthrew: “They want to form a fundamentalist Islamic State in the middle east, which is bad, but it’s not bad in the same way that invading New York is bad. They are growing and with that growth they may form terrorist cells somewhere who want to do attacks outside the middle east. And I’m sure that’s true. That’s how it’s gone in the past. But as Steve Benen says, if President Obama were to go to the American people with all this, here’s what he would say based on all that information:
“By the way, ISIS terrorists want to kill Americans. There’s no imminent threat; we don’t have any actionable intelligence; and I’m not instructing the public to take any specific actions, but I thought I’d mention it. You know, just FYI.”

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My new And column and a couple of other links

The new And column is up, on the claims that talking about sexism, racism, homophobia etc. is “divisive,” except when you’re in favor of them.
•Roy Edroso looks at the right-wing reaction to the Ferguson shooting and subsequent violence. You’ll be fascinated to know that when cops shoot blacks on the street, it’s Obama’s fault.
•Hobby Lobby may be strong for its own religious rights, but it’s fine with preaching to school kids.
•A suicidal 18-year-old rape victim in Ireland asks for an abortion when the fetus is two weeks along. Although Ireland allows abortion in that situation, it took the authorities 17 weeks to decide she had to get a C-section instead. Because nothing’s better for suicidal rape victims than carrying their rapist’s baby for four months.
•From a few years back, a violent encounter between a young black man and cops (the violence being all on the cops’ side).
•To escape all the liberals on Facebook, try Reaganbook!
•Tyler Cowen, a libertarian who thinks mandatory vaginal ultrasounds are a great idea and that there’s no logical reason employers shouldn’t have the right to demand employees have sex with them also thinks the problem with the poor is they’re not moral enough, so they should try, say, converting to the Latter-Day Saints. Paging David Brooks, the dude’s on your turf!

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Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Odds and Links

Digby reminds us that no, ISIS in Iraq is not an existential threat to America and that the 21st century should have taught us that we can’t simply shape the world to our will.
More on the militarized approach to policing America’s streets. Though even in calmer situations, cops shoot people whom they insist were uncontrollably violent and dangerous. Which I’ve heard too often to believe, especially given how touchy cops are about anyone catching them on video. Which as Consumerist says is legal. Oh, and here’s alicublog on the right-wing response (cops gunning down black people is Obama’s fault!)
•A discussion of the “sharing economy” represented by Uber and similar companies, and the assumption it’s both going to pep up the economy if we just don’t regulate it and that it represents some deep emotional connection between customer and service provider.

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When you link into the abyss …

Jessica Valenti says tampons should be free or at least treated like other medical necessities (i.e. sales tax exempt). Unsurprisingly, discussions of women’s parts makes some people freak out.
•Writing about the recent police shooting of a black youth, Deadspin says that when you arm police as if they were soldiers, it’s not surprising they treat black Americans like the enemy. Cracked says increasing armament is one reason police scare us.
While I don’t have the direct link, Digby‘s often made a similar point: If police have tons of heavy firearms and SWAT equipment, it’s natural they’re going to use them, even when busting pot smokers or people downloading child porn. Because why not go in heavily armed, just in case? Slacktivist has more.
•Speaking of race, National Review;s Kevin Williamson offers his thoughts on how scary nine-year-old black kids are.
•This is a couple of years old, but it seems Ultra-Orthodox Jews hate the Internet.
•A judge half-concedes that the NCAA’s policy of not paying student athletes isn’t about amateurism.
•It’s no longer just writers who have to worry about bad online reviews. Some Yelp reviewers, meanwhile, think they should be paid for their work. Oh, and Yelp is in trouble over the quality of the reviews too.
•I recently linked to a story about how libertarianism is catching fire with young Americans. As I said there, it’s not true. And it seems the pools cited were somewhat biased.
•Speaking of libertarians, Salon looks at how willing some of them are to work with social conservatives so long as business gets deregulated.
•Lovely. It’s legal to deduct credit-card fees from employee tips.
•As climate change hits the Arctic, it’s releasing frozen methane deposits, which will accelerate global warming. And speaking of warming and rising sea levels, an oil refinery is demanding government pay to protect it from the water.
•The pangolin, a cute, armored mammal, is endangered due to rising human interest in eating them.
•A deputy speaker in Israel’s Knesset calls for concentration camps for Palestinians in Gaza. But don’t worry, they’re only temporary until they can ship out the Palestinians somewhere else.
•Now instead of just moving operations out of the US, corporations have a new trick: keep operations but officially relocate ownership to somewhere with lower taxes.
•Chiquita Bananas has paid millions to the US government as a penalty for funding terrorism in Columbia, or as the company sees it, buying protection. US judges have now ruled victims of the paramilitary group involved can’t sue in U.S. courts.
•A McDonalds franchisee says when his profit margins go down, the company says he should just cut wages.
•LGM looks at how US policy contributes to children crossing the border.

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Religion and a douchebag

Slacktivist catches a charming story: A pastor discovers the person he’s agreed to hold a funeral for is gay, and married. He announces at the last minute that the funeral is off because “I have to stand up for my principles.”
Yes, very principled. I’m sure that if the deceased had been an adulterer, drunk, wage thief or abuser, the reaction would have been exactly the same. Not. As Slacktivist has pointed out many times in past blog posts, Christian anti-gay prejudice has been wildly exalted in the 21st century. It’s not simply “gay sex is wrong” but opposing gay marriage is (according to some religious conservatives) one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity. And opposition includes things like refusing to let them be mourned at your church, at least in this case. Because that would obviously prove the preacher secretly supported gay sex.
•Slacktivist also scrutinizes a Time article complaining that making consent an important moral standard for “is this sexual act okay?” is a bad thing. Because what about stuff like fidelity? What about the damage raw sexual lust can do when let out of the bottle?
As Fred Clark (the slacktivist blogger) notes, this is trick answer: Author Damon Linker is condemning the importance of consent by writing as if that replaces all other standards: consent is bad because everyone who says “consent is important” must be rejecting fidelity, honesty, etc. Which is bullshit. And Linker also seems to think that before the sexual revolution, everyone stayed chaste until marriage. And that’s also bullshit.

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