Saturday, August 30, 2008


Who's the misogynonist now?

OT Saturday: Michael Palin* considers a change of surname

Before an audience of horrified
Wasilla High school students, Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin re-enacts her
own birth.

*Michael Palin is funnier, and nicer, than we are.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Some shorters

mostly genuine style.

A more perfect union:

Mickey Kaus said something, but the goat penis in his mouth made his words indecipherable.

The banality of cable news, part 84,908 in a continuing series:

I wish I had a tv gig. They make a fortune.

Grim pub quiz:

Why should the far right monopolize Obama assassination fantasies?

Alea iacta est:

Barack Obama stands before a crowd of nearly 100,000 and accepts his party's nomination with humility and pride. And you know what? I'm moved. I have a low opinion of politicians, and I do not expect Obama to change the world. But he's nonetheless inspiring.
Obama will not change the world. But he makes his ideas appealing by sheer force of personality.

42 minutes later;

Summing up:
I was disappointed by the speech. Your mileage may vary, of course. But it was basically standard Democratic Convention Boilerplate: nothing we haven't seen before from Obama, or for that matter, every Democratic presidential candidate in living memory.
This implies, [sic] that McCain will get a bigger bounce than Obama from his convention appearance; we'll see.
You see, Obama mentioned teachers, but not vouchers. This disappointed Megan, which means McCain will probably... nah, I don't follow the logic, either.

You're on your own:
That's Obama's sound byte to cap the standard litany of Democratic hard-luck stories. I think Peggy Noonan nailed my dissatisfaction with the mythic, put-upon heroes of both sets of convention speeches [My emphasis]
*giggle fit*

Barack Obama: please end our dependence on cheap platitudes about foreign oil:

You know, JFK only made his call for us to do the impossible and land on the Moon in order to get laid with a secretary. Think about THAT!

Your Daily Dose of Libertarian Idiocy

Click on this.

Once you are there you will encounter the dumbest fucking thing ever written by an animal ever.

Or, just read it here:

[Tyler Cowen, June 21, 2005 at 8:26am] Trackbacks
What are the most commonly shoplifted items? First is Advil, here is the longer list,[sic] follow the links for a discussion of caveats and qualifications. My intuitive response to the data is that people shoplift when they are desperate, or feeling some kind of pain or depression, rather than calculating cost and benefit in a rational Beckerian fashion[sic].

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Radiohead webcast

right now
hurry hurry

She just doesn't know what she's talking about

(and neither does Tyler Cowan. Maybe his hair is better informed.)

How to eat tofu without really trying

Tyler Cowen notes that yes, eating less meat would help fight global warming much better [sic] than eating local:
In my view we do have duties to behave more responsibly at the dinner table but the simple admonition "eat less meat" will do. Maybe you don't like tofu but sardines are delicious, or use Goya small red beans with shredded Mexican cheese (even the Kraft package is decent) and ground chile on a corn tortilla. Don't forget the lime on top.
Soy = environmentally friendly, right? Not necessarily. Soy is the second largest crop in the US today, typically grown under industrial conditions that are very much not environmentally friendly. Additionally, that soy has to be processed into tofu, something no longer done by hand, meaning more industrialization, and it has to be packaged, then flown and driven to the supermarket.
Eating local cuts out the flying and likely reduces the driving required. It also generally encourages independent farms which are less industrialized, especially considering that localvores make a point of encouraging organic growing practices. Then there's the benefits of eating non industrial meat to consider. And, while there's certainly no guarantee, the odds are the humans involved in the production of food consumed by localvores fare much better than those in the industrial meat grinder. Furthermore, local produce usually involves a great deal less packaging.
On the other hand, let's look at Tyler's second 'better' meal option. Sardines are first removed from an ocean whose biomass we are rapidly depleting, then shipped to a processing factory. Then a tin must be manufactured and filled, both industrial processes. Then the tins are flown and driven to stores. Goya beans are grown industrially, then processed, packed in another industrially manufactured can, then flown and driven. Shit, even the lime is picked by a migrant worker then flown and driven. I have a hard time believing a locally raised and slaughtered cow farts enough to outweigh the carbon emissions involved in Tyler's 'better' meal.
Finally, am I the only one with a massive sense of deja vu right now? I'm not going to hunt through the archives, but I feel like this post has already happened. Hmm.

A response

there's many potential ways to respond to the explicit and implicit character attacks in Megan and Ann's little chat. They'd most likely expect the man behind a troll blog to get very, very angry and/or go to lengths to prove that I totally have a life and am cool and dogs like me. But being wrong about what kind of person I am ranks pretty low on the list of mistaken ideas held by them two. I'm not playing too cool for school, I don't care what they think, but I also don't care what they think I think. We're not in a competition with Megan here, we're part of the peanut gallery. We're not jealous of Megan's position, Ann, we're dismayed she has it, like you were when random idiot #1 beat out random idiot #2 on American Idol. Naomi Klein should have that gig, or any of the large number of far better economics bloggers out there. My personal dislike for Megan has no bearing on her lack of qualifications and ability.
Anyhow, there's a couple other things from the diavlog I want to respond directly to. First is Megan's claim that part of the motivation behind this blog is some men can't handle women being smarter than they are. I went to Vassar, and spent three years in love with a young woman who won the Phi Beta Kappa award for her year. I've had the rare privilege of studying with Rachel Kitzinger and Agnes Heller, names most probably won't recognize but women who are giants in their respective fields. There are many women who are much, much smarter than I am, but Megan and Ann are not among them.
More importantly, I want to address the idea that there's a dark fury underlying this blog. That's an easy assertion to make, as we all have a tendency to get a bit pissy here. Our core readership knows that's as much due to Megan's terrible and offensive work as our own natures, but yes, we get mad, sometimes even angry.
But Megan doesn't understand the difference between hatred and loathing, a key distinction that, to be honest, I've never seen someone on the right recognize. Hatred takes you over, it's the flip side of love and thus shares in a passionate nature. Hatred is consuming. That Megan recognizes hatred isn't something you want to dwell in means she's developed the emotional maturity of about a 16 year old. When she's 18 she'll realize hate isn't actually fun; it harms you by twisting you up inside.
We don't hate you Megan, we loathe you. That means I don't carry you around inside me the rest of the day, I don't think about you while I'm doing other things, I never wonder what you're doing right now. If you want to understand the difference between hate and loathing go read Hunter S Thompson's two Fear and Loathing books without focusing on the mentions of guns. It's the difference between HST and Nixon. It's the difference between humanity and an MBA. To loathe something is to regret its existence, to hate is to want to end that thing's existence. This blog is not "Shut up, Megan McArdle" because we don't want her to shut up. We want her fired, because The Atlantic is supposed to be a home for the nation's greatest writers, the folk who can use language in ways that amaze and inspire, not lazy, selfish ideologues who post bland, uncreative recipes and neither proofread their work nor bother to correct the inevitable mistakes.
It is, however, telling that the only motivation Megan can understand is hatred, in ways I'll leave for Susan to explore if she wishes. I'm just going to close with a glance at the bitter irony that Megan is trying to call her critics cruel and heartless while championing policies that leave billions in inescapable poverty, all in service to an abstract ideal that only exists to give cover for the neverending crimes of the capitalist elite.

Recipe for Hypocrisy

First, gather a link to Ta-Nehisi in a small blog post:

"The man from everywhere, which means nowhere," is barely functional English. Seriously I would flunk a high school freshman for writing that.
Sprinkle generously with "sic"s. Garnish with "wtf is 'functional' English" to taste. Serves the entire idiot blogosphere.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First I go "Ick!" then I go "YOU IDIOT!"

Oh my lord, Megan is talking about BDSM. Why, oh why must she conjure up these horrible juxtapositions in my mind? There is nothing more disturbing than the thought of MM engaging in some S&M.


After shuddering uncontrollably for 25 minutes, I finally made it to the sublimely stupid bits underneath.

My secondmost immediate thought was, of course, of evangelical Christians. Specifically, the fact that they report being happier than the rest of us. The article in Christianity Today argues that this is a function of the social support provided by an inclusive community. But I wonder if it isn't, in part, the decision to stand out from the community that leads to greater self-reported happiness.
Megan, have you ever been to America? How in the fucking world can you say that evangelicals are stepping out of the mainstream? Outside of the places you've lived, televangelists have HUGE followings. OUR CURRENT FUCKING PRESIDENT IS AN EVANGELICAL YOU DIP SHIT!

Then we have this startling display of her inability to comprehend human beavior:
People who have decided to do anything so far outside of the mainstream are people who a) have a powerful preference and b) have satisfied that preference. The mainstream, on the other hand, contains all the people who have extreme preferences, but not the willpower to buck convention and satisfy them.
Are you fucking kidding me, lady? You're telling me that people who stick with the mainstream don't CHOOSE to do so? That they all secretly want to worship cows or are fecal-philiacs or something? I've said it before, but I have to repeat myself. She isn't human. She is a fucking robot or a rock or something. She can't even comprehend the desire to fucking fit in! I am the most contrary person on earth and I can still grasp why people would want to be assimilated in the culture at large. Megan, on the other hand, is the biggest shill the status quo has got and yet doesn't even understand what's behind her own motivations. How dense can you get? Is she being intentionally shallow?

and she continues!!!
Against this, of course, are the people who have stayed in the evangelical Christian community since birth. But the churn rate is quite high, which is why we all know so many people who used to be religious, and also quite a few who have found religion in adulthood.
I'm seriously losing my breath here! The stupidity emanating from my computer screen is displacing the fucking oxygen in the room! JUST ABOUT EVERYONE TAKES THEIR RELIGION OR LACK THEREOF FROM THEIR PARENTS!!! For fuck's sake, Megan herself does stupid catholic bullshit like lent because it's how she was raised despite the fact that she's an "agnotheist." The churn rate is low as hell. When was the last time you met someone at a bar who was raised in Amish country, you fucking halfwit?

But, of course, the reason Megan can't see this is because, no matter how hard she tries, she can't see past her own privileged upbringing:
In modern America, it's relatively easy to exit a religious community, either by a series of steps through progressively less demanding congregations, or by moving across country and letting your parents think you're still going to church.
Yes folks, she actually just said it's "easy" to abandon your family, friends, and all community ties and move across America. Could this woman have less of a clue?

A Sleeping Giant Awakens, Rolls Over, & Returns to Sleep

Sez La Megan:

I think we may be sure that Microsoft was less concerned with the tender feelings of porn consumers (and/or their spouses) and more concerned with striking a blow at Google.

But this has broader applications than Google. Media companies are still trying to figure out how to make web advertising lucrative enough to support a full, print-style application--Politico is a rousing success, and yet makes 60% of its revenue from a cheat sheet it prints for a paltry few tens of thousands of readers. We don't need a new web browser making things even harder than they already are.
Ms. McArdle, have you noticed that Microsoft itself is a media company, & would love to make more (Or some, what the hell do I know?) money from, among other places, a few months or so ago when there was big blather about Microsoft purchasing Yahoo!? So they could get a bigger on-line presence? So I'm not sure why Bill G. & the gang would be trying to cut off their noses to spite their faces, unless this is some sort of "Look, competition is,, like, really good" item. (It's just so hard to understand anything she types.)

And is Ms. McA. opposed to a company providing something that people want to use, for whatever reason, if it might cut into her paycheck? What kind of competition & free market stuff is that? Aren't we all supposed to take risk, & suffer the consequences?

P. S.: Does anyone give a shit about Idiot Exploder 8 anyway? Aren't we all using Firefox 3?

Megastats: 19 lines quoted, 8 lines typed. Add another line for the title if you feel generous.

Troll blog part 2

the even longer part.
We left with Ann and Megan discussing what got them into blogging.
Megan admits she herself was motivated by an anti-statist anger inspired by reading the archives of Reason, and ascribes the same initial motivation to all bloggers. What makes Megan better than me is that she grew out of dwelling in anger and is now a mature, positive blogger. Girls just mature faster, especially the ones who talk about being more mature. Ann gently challenges Megan by mentioning her own motivating desire to inflict her narcissism on the rest of the world, and says she views blogging as "like an art project". Ann gave up on being an artist when she discovered mirrors, but mirrors can't also offer compliments like a good blog sycophant can.
From here we segue into the second great section of the 15 minutes of troll time. It begins at 52:50, with Ann asking Megan, "why is it me and you".
Megan answers that she's heard two theories, though she eventually offers four. The first is that she's a "woman who blogs about male topics in a female way", which is not in and of itself either bullshit or an embrace of cultural definitions of gender to a degree that might itself be considered misogynist. Megan doesn't write about football by asking the players if they feel good about their teammates and arguing they should use hugs to end a play instead of tackling, but she thinks that her method of argument by personal anecdote is humanizing and distinctly feminine, instead of inappropriate for a topic that's supposed to be based on empirical data and completely without relevance to her gender. Mean guys want economics to be about the math, as opposed to Megan's feelings.
Ann responds that this "method" is what fires people up, which means they should do it more. A response equals great success. This is in no way what actual trolls think, and in no way resembles their methods. Ann is not a concern troll pretending to herself she's a performance artist troll, she's.... a vortex spinner. Mhm.
The second great theory Megan has heard, in the sense of someone repeated what she said back to her, as to why everyone outside the DC blogging clique thinks she's an idiot, is that "women are only allowed to be smarter in certain ways", and they're "not supposed to be smarter just on sheer analytic firepower". This is another moment we'll revisit in the semi-serious post still to come, so for now just enjoy the belly laugh.
Megan, you lack analytic firepower, because you are poorly informed and a sloppy, self-indulgent thinker. That you'd claim your critics are unwilling to recognize that there are women who are smarter than we are shows that you yourself aren't very bright. Also, your entire work history shows the same thing, from 2x4s to Jail the Jena Six to blacks are lazy to whatever you'll say tomorrow.
Next up is the theory that Megan and Ann are "squishier" than a Michelle Malkin, and thus get all the criticism she doesn't. There's no point in criticizing Malkin, she's not listening, so the left doesn't bother, whereas Megan and Ann pretend it's just a coincidence they end up in basic agreement with the Republican talking points of the day 95% of the time and say they're in the mushy middle, meaning they listen to both sides. Yes, I realize this claim is evidence that Megan and Ann have both had a traumatic break with reality, but they really did claim this.
And Megan goes on to explain that her mushy middle position makes her "dangerous", because unlike Malkin she might convince someone on the fence to follow her. It's at 56:10, folks, she actually believes this. Some folk might find it unseemly to express such a high self opinion repeatedly, but Megan's a woman blogger, dammit. Her own experience of herself is much more true than reality, and only misogynist liberals would challenge her delusions of grandeur.
Megan, surprisingly, allows there's a final, fourth theory as to why she gets such a negative response; she's a horrible person and terrible blogger. Apparently proponents of this theory also think she should be put in a camp, which is to say Megan has invented the passive aggressive Godwin. Great job!
Ann finally chimes in with her own theory that her critics think women are supposed to be liberal and she should get in her place, as opposed to disagreeing with her and finding her to be batshit crazy in her bizarre psycho-sexual fantasies involving the Clintons.
Megan and Ann conclude their hour of power by talking about what Hillary's campaign says about them, which is doubly funny in that they insult Hillary as much as possible while complimenting themselves for her achievements.

Diavlogs are just a shitty format for shitty talent. I don't think I'll try this again.

Oh, also,
Dear DC blogging clique,
Take some fucking public speaking classes.
You all suck, and I'm not talking about the cold, Megan.

Troll blog

we are the trolls, we are the trolls, we are, we are, we are the trolls.
First, a disclosure. When MM and AA discuss how similar their experiences with "trolls" are, there's a reason. For the most part, they're talking about me, and if not me, S,N!, though I'm not sure they recognize the connection. I'm the one who made a fake Facebook profile of Ann and freaked her out so (it was just so she'd be listed as a Friend of S,N!, sheesh), and I am very much a part of the horrible name stealing at S,N! that also upsets Ann, though I didn't come up with the idea. I don't mean to be egotistical and say their troll conversation is all about me, but I certainly feel flattered.
Now, a condensed version of their conversation about me.

Ann begins by naming us specifically as a troll blog. Ann wants FMM to succeed, having linked to us in the past, but she doesn't produce much added traffic. Links from HTML at S,N! are worth thousands of hits, but Ann only produced maybe a couple dozen extra.
Megan pretends not to know our name, and responds by saying she now has two troll blogs. I doubt Megan is really that unaware, more likely she doesn't want to flatter us with acknowledgment. Plus the two ladies, I suspect, think that discussing us trolls like that will set us off, as we're all angry, impotent little people who just like to get mad. More on that later.
Anyhow, they then offer their views on our motivations here, which are just wonderful. Ann thinks we're "jealous", whereas Megan ascribes this blog to a "dark fury", which, of course, really has nothing to do with her. The good news is all the criticism really did bother Megan at first, until one Saturday afternoon a bunch of folk started criticizing a recipe she posted. Then she realized it was all ridiculous and stopped caring. No suggestion that maybe bland recipes aren't the proper material for a fucking economics blog on The Atlantic, no recognition that maybe the overwhelming shoddiness of her work is too much for a great number of people to tolerate. It's that a bunch of grown men are impotent little haters and want to revenge themselves on women. Odd that Megan rejected this hypothesis to explain anti-abortion activists, but has no problem applying it to people who have a low opinion of her work. Wait, did I say odd? I mean typically self-serving.
Megan and Ann go on to present a portrait of me that I wish included a drawing, so I could print and frame it. Megan sees me "sitting in my bedroom" (Ann: "in his underpants") thinking I'm going to "get her". It's true, I do wish I had the raw popularity and sexual charisma of the Simpsons' comic book store guy, but I just can't stay that thin. I could join WoW to get some exercise, but I hear there are real girls there sometimes. That scares me. Safer just to rack up the experience points getting Megan with my sooper powars here. I sure do put that woman in her place. Go me!

And then, a moment of sublime beauty. Apropos of nothing, Megan segues into that NYTimes magazine piece on online trolls, thus confirming that she was thinking of us when she read it. Sure, the piece was actually about griefers, though the writer didn't know that, and what we do here has no relation to those kinds of activities, but we make Megan feel bad, so we're actually worse.
Megan takes a strong, controversial stand on the the griefers' documented activities ("those things are evil") and says that all us trolls just make her feel sad. After all, calling Megan stupid really is comparable to manipulating a young teenage girl into suicide because she was mean to your daughter. I'm such a monster, but I don't know how to stop.
You see, the criticism is totally unjustified and unfair. Megan says so. At 48:50 she says "I think I'm cool. I enjoy spending time with me", so we're just wrong. She goes on to say "Fundamentally, I think the great thing about blogging is it's about you". (I'm being slightly unfair in where I cut that quote, but too fucking bad.) Megan's point is that the criticism coming at her isn't actually about her; it comes from the massive reserves of hate that apparently fuel me. She explains that "being angry is fun ... but as a way of life it's unsatisfying". I'll come back to this moment in the semi-serious post, but I gotta say now that no, Megan, being angry isn't fun, though it tells me a lot about you as a person that you think it is. It also helps explain why you can't distinguish between hate and loathing, but I digress.
Megan follows up by once again claiming "I'm fairly good at being sarcastic and bitchy", which is wrong, but by this point Megan and Ann are really beginning to bond over dismissing their critics dishonestly. Ann is even actually paying attention to Megan at this point.
They go on to discuss what drew them into blogging, which we'll take up in the next post. I need a break. It's hard being this hateful, I need blood sugar.

The worst part is over

I've watched the whole fucking "diavlog", in installments, and I'm going to put up three posts on the fun (Nutella will probably join in on the religion section later). The first post, which you're reading, is general thoughts and highlights from the first 45 mins or so. The second will be an in depth examination of the 15 minutes MM and AA spent discussing "trolls" and why they both engender such frequent and heated criticism. This will run long, n might have to be broken into two parts. The final post will be an as brief as possible somewhat serious response to the self-serving critiques MM and AA offer. I'm not particularly phased by their assertions, but they give the ground to reinforce a few points that are worth making periodically, such as why this blog isn't titled "Shut up, Megan McArdle".

On then to general reflections and the first half. Let's get the mandatory lookism based assaults out of the way first.
Megan looks like a little boy with her hair pulled back that way, and not in a theoretically flattering androgynous way. Ann Althouse (who I am not and will remain in a state of not existing as for the duration of this post, thus not requiring me to repeatedly state the fact) seems to have found the perfect distance from her webcam for her face to look like it's in focus without actually being in focus, saving her a great deal of prep time.
The lookism requirement met, we can move on to note that Megan says "sort of" in every other sentence she utters in the entire fucking hour of dual monologists pretending to have a conversation. Every 10th time or so she substitutes "kind of", but there's always a qualifier, a weasel word left in so she can back out of damn near every single assertion she offers in the whole session in case anyone ever brings it up later. Ann appears to be engaged in at least two other activities during the hour, at times clearly not actually listening to Megan in favor of typing on a computer. Watching this makes me understand much more clearly how Ann has survived and even thrived in academia. She knows which motions to go through, how to seem like she's paying attention to something she doesn't give a shit about, and how to condescend in a way that seems almost caring. Urgh.

There's lots of stupid in the first 45 minutes, of course, but I only have it in me to relive a few greatest hits right now. Ann has a great line around 2:40 in where she claims Obama is kind of boring when he speaks "if you think about it the wrong way", and another good bit at about 14:15 where she talks about how people call her crazy and a drunk, to which Megan responds "don't give in to the haters".
Later the ladies bring up the Edwards affair, agree they shouldn't talk about it out of respect for Elizabeth, then proceed to talk about it for 3-4 minutes.
At 36:04 Megan says "fucking moron". She wasn't actually calling anyone that, I just want to note she swore and thus now automatically loses all future debates.
At 38:25 Megan claims a large number of evolution advocates "just don't grok the scientific method". I would make a joke about this if I wasn't exhausted.
Better snark in the morning, right now I'm drained.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Glibertarian Philosophy in a Nutshell

From today's L. A. Times, I thought I'd share this nugget of free market love w/ all.

McCain's amnesia should be construed as a positive political gaffe; the more homes he owns, the better. His message to every American voter is that like him, they can all achieve the American dream through the time-tested habits of focus, hard work and perseverance (and helped by positive government policies that he proposes, like minimal taxation to stimulate investment and jobs.)

Unfortunately, many with socialist inclinations in the opposing camp have not learned the lessons of failed socialism elsewhere.

Ashok Sharma
La Cañada Flintridge
Military & "Public" Service career?
Family connections.

Dumping your first wife 'cause she shrank while you were away?
Legal costs, filing fees, child-support, alimony.

Marrying a bottle-blond beer baroness 18 yrs. your junior, who owns a corporate jet?

My Eyes, They Just Pop Right Out!

Oh, how fun:

There's nothing quite so infuriating as seeing some idiot with southern plates driving his jeep too fast in the snow because he doesn't realize that four wheel drive provides faster acceleration but does nothing for his stopping radius.
If only everyone knew as much about cars as our muse, then we might all be more informed about our stopping radii.


In the comments our muse says (in response to a Southerner who takes umbrage at her generalization):
I've driven in snow in both Western New York and in DC; there's no question that the DC drivers are much worse in much less snow.
That's right, folks, Megan is armed with anecdotal observation and so, therefore, CANNOT BE QUESTIONED!!!!!

Before I die

some genuine style shorters.

Dispatch from a lost city:
Unfamiliar things frighten me, but I don't like admitting that fact to myself, so I bury it under mountains of dull prose.

Annals of idiocy:
Food warning labels should only reflect my own concerns.

Life choices:
Just to again make clear, the really important thing about the abortion debate is that I have access to safe options if I ever need them.

Not ready for prime-time:
I have come to the shocking and unprecedented conclusion that the majority of television coverage of political conventions is boring, unlike longwinded complaints about said topics.

Good for thee but not me . . . :
I cannot comprehend the basic idea that some things shouldn't be all about the money.

Alright. I'm gonna run some errands, then begin my descent into hell.

Kill me, please, kill me

Jebus is real, and he's getting revenge on me.


Ann Althouse and I did a Bloggingheads yesterday on politics, internet trolls, and my ongoing battle with whatever hideous disease has kept me coughing for the last month. As the folks at Bloggingheads said, I'm still clearly under the weather, but Ann's in top form, so check it out.
I have no excuse. I have to watch this.
I'm going to die.

Does anyone have any PCP?

It's an hour long.
*curls into ball, weeps*

Just in case anyone's waiting, it'll be later tonight. Real world duties have intervened for a few. Plus there's Yankees/Red Sox and the DNC keep up with. Busy night.

The irony of Ross D. calling something else dull..

Ross D writes: "as a political figure, [Biden's] one of the least interesting veep picks in recent memory." What a complement to Gore & Quayle!

He continues:

"[Biden] doesn't offer Obama a chance to expand the map - his native state is small, blue and boring, and he hasn't generated any political excitement outside Delaware in twenty years."

For one, Ross is wrong. Ross is also completely ignorant of the politics of Southeastern Pennysylvania and South Jersey. For once, I hope that Chris Matthews can set him straight. Biden is a big deal in these areas. South Jersey simply isn't represented in the Senate--there is more attachment and affection for Joe Biden in South Jersey than there is for any other Senator. The same goes for Pennsylvania--little connection exists[ed] between Spector and Santorum and the denizens of Philadelphia. Biden's their guy.

Ross continues: "[Biden won't] co-opt an up-for-grabs constituency (the notion that he's going to be the candidate of Joe Lunchbucket seems mildly implausible, working-class roots or no)." Well, Biden is the poorest Senator, and John McCain needs his toes to count his houses. So, yes, there will be an attraction for the poorer folk to Biden than, say, Mitt Romney.

Just wait until the debates, Ross.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Brief, but stupid

The death of a city:

This statistic from Matt Feeney at The American Scene is truly stunning:
Over the last 50 years, Detroit has lost almost a million of its former 1.85 million people. About three-quarters of those one million people were white.
Bzzzt, paging Steve Sailer, Steve Sailer, will you please come to the WHITE courtesy phone? Thank you.
Quick thoughts. Megan is stunned to find out about white flight from Detroit? No one tell her about sundown towns, she'll have an an aneurysm. Also, 75% being white means that the folk leaving roughly mirrored the population breakdown of the US as a whole. Yes, the demographics of the city changed a lot, but this simple number suggests that wasn't because of white flight so much as black migration. I have no idea what the truth is, but then I also have no idea why Megan seems to find this statistic problematic. I guess she's afraid of a black planet.

The silly season continues:
The political stories just get stupider. Don't we have anything substantive to talk about?
Apparently you don't, Megan. You linked to a story you think is too stupid to deserve notice. You effectively said "Don't look at THAT, RIGHT THERE, THAT THING! No, to your right, don't look at... yeah, you've got it now, don't acknowledge it exists."
This is the same journalistic principle that leads Fox News to run specials on the threat of young sexuality and its expression that feature entire episodes of Girls Gone Wild in the background. It's shocking and distressing and horrible, and they have footage.
Expect a great deal more clutching of pearls while linking to sludge. Megan is entering her Peggy Noonan phase.

How long...

...until the wingnuts start referring to the B. Hussein Obama & J. Robinette Biden ticket?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

There's the Insight for which I've Been Looking!

Oh, Ta-Nehisi, I'm so glad you came to The Atlantic so that you could provide the stunning challenges to my way of thinking that had been previously lacking:

I have this deep-seated suspicion that the things we think decide elections--ads, gaffes, rallies, counter-punches--aren't as important as we make them. I mean they are important, but often I suspect that they're just distracting us from much deeper, uncontrollable--and in some ways unknowable--questions. How's the war going? How will the economy be doing in November? What do the voter reg numbers look like? How many of those are likely to turn out?

I ask them SOOOO nicely not to do it, and then just -boom!- they blow it to smithereens. Can we please get back to something more comfortable?
What's going on at the local level with this thing? What's happening--right now--in the voting precints of Ohio and North Carolina? Stop telling me how much money Obama is pouring into those states--I want to know what that money does, how is it being put to work. Less top-down coverage, more bottom up.
Phew, yes, let's get some stories about what we really KNOW is important, like whether the money is going to pay staffers to canvas or to fund the creation of more buttons and signs in the Cincinnati suburbs. THAT'S the kind of campaign coverage that would be TRULY useful for us to have so that we might properly decide our next president.

Is there a single IQ point in the entirety of the blogosphere? I guess with a name as stupid as "blogosphere" it just has to be dumb.

Random Bill Hicks thought of the day

From the Sane Man dvd, so I'm paraphrasing.

If the government is losing the war on drugs, that means the people taking drugs are winning it.


Friday, August 22, 2008

We Have a Winner!

The best comment ever has been made:

Warren Buffet sacrifices a lot less when he gives up 10% of his income than does his secretary when she gives up 10% of hers

But we as a society lose out on a lot more by taking Warren Buffet's income than his secretary. He has shown that he can use that wealth to create vast amounts of wealth. His ROI is much better than what the federal government is going to get on it.
His secretary has never created jobs and wealth for others, like Warren has. Wouldn't we be better off as a society if Warren was able to keep his wealth to generate a bigger pie for us all, rather than trying to just take a slice of his and divvy it up among us?

Posted by the Gooch | August 22, 2008 2:44 PM
Yes, the rich are just better people and we should give them all of our money so that they can make us all as rich as they are!

I'm going to pass out.

A whole lotta stupid

Ezra on taxes:

Scene: The exterior of a typical American high school on a beautiful, sunny day, near the cafeteria. A young couple sits under a tree finishing their lunch. The boy rests with his head in the lap of his older, taller, girlfriend, who is playing with his hair. A third student, heavyset and bearded, walks towards them, hesitantly, but his approach is met with dual icy glares, and he sinks back towards the school paper lunch table from which he came.
The couple begins to converse.

Ezra claims that we shouldn't try to compete with Ireland and Greece on taxation because . . . "But that's nothing compared the odd idea that we have to kick the legs out of our revenue collection in order to fend off challenges from...Greece and Ireland. Operating costs are cheaper in smaller, less advanced countries, and much cheaper in smaller, much less advanced countries." Ireland is the richest country in Europe, except for Luxembourg, which is basically one big tax-advantaged bank. Its per-capita GDP is nearly as high as America's. In 1980, the year before Ireland cut its corporate income tax, the country's GDP was half the size of America's. I agree--why would we want to emulate soaring growth?
Hear that? A good solution to our economic woes is to have a major portion of the US erupt in religious violence with political undertones, then stop. The economic growth that comes with a lack of local explosions is tremendous, especially if you're also allowed into the EU just before the world financial markets begin moving large amounts of capital out of the US in favor of Europe. That seems practical.*
Oh, wait, she wants to credit Ireland's rebirth to reduced corporate taxes. Fuck you, Megan.
He also argues for narrowing the tax base and raising the rates, though that's probably not how he thinks of it:
I've argued often on this blog that given how much income is concentrated in the hands of the rich, you can cut taxes for the majority of the country, raise taxes on a small slice of wealthy Americans, and raise revenue, even as the average American's tax bill goes down. As Leonhardt argues, the relentless march of wealth accumulation -- the rich getting much richer, year by year -- made this truer in 2008 then it was in 2007, truer in 2007 then in 2006, and a helluva lot truer in 2006 then it was in 1993.
High taxes on a narrow base are about the opposite of optimal tax theory. This is not because economists are mean, cruel people who are primarily interested in serving their corporate overlords, but rather because the narrower the base, and the higher the rates, the more sharply the marginal returns to rate increases diminish.
If you think that made no sense, well, prepare yourself for the most incoherent onslaught of jargon you've ever seen, unless you're Spencer.
Actually, I'm not going to bother quoting Megan further, at least not in bulk. Her argument begins with acknowledging
The top 1% of households, about 1 million in all, have about 20% of national income. They've also experienced most of the income gains in the last twenty years.
then she flails about trying to make her readers think making this slice of America give back to the nation which has benefited them so would fuck the economy. Cuz, y'know, back when we taxed the shit out of the rich in the decades following WWII until the Reagan era we didn't have any kind of economic growth as a nation, so if we raised taxes on the rich we'd just go straight into a recess.... .... Look, a pony!
Barack Obama's tax plans probably won't put us there, even with the partial lifting of the payroll tax cap. But Barack Obama's plans do nothing to close the really fairly gargantuan deficit we're staring down--he wants to use the money to fund new spending.
This is true, if you completely ignore Obama's intention to not only end the war in Iraq, but no longer allow it to be a monstrously corrupt process of blatant theft of billions from the public treasury by private hands attached to the body of Dick Cheney and/or his bosses. That might free up some pocket change for the comparatively incredibly inexpensive social programs he's proposing, but Megan's got her fingers in her ears, still, because someone someone suggested making the rich pay back the rest of the nation for affording them the privileges they enjoy. She can't hear us.
And, in the end, remember, if we try to tax the rich
they'll shift their income to more tax advantaged forms, or places. If we try to concentrate all our taxation on the rich, we will quickly reach the limits of our ability to tax.
Better to continue to make taxation primarily a means of draining the middle class for the benefit of military contractors and Chinese banks than inconveniencing the rich by making them move some of their assets in ways that weren't already in their plans. It'd just be rude of us.

*- Megan's commentariat find it to funny forever that I connect the past problems in Northern Ireland with the economic difficulties the independent nation just to its south faced. I wish I had paid more attention when the connection had been explained to me in the past, but I guess I'll just have to go on the instinct that not being near a major center of terrorism and violence is a plus when trying to attract business.
Oh, and y'know, just cuz it might damage your national brand to have your ethnic kinsmen blowing up chunks of the capital city of your wealthy and well-connected neighbor nation. Israel certainly isn't helping the matter, but still, look at how corporations are scrambling to get into Gaza and the West Bank, for example.

Let's see how much I can bait them.

Ireland, the island, is, according to wikipedia, roughly 32,600 square miles in size. That's midway between the sizes of Maine and Indiana, for comparison. Northern Ireland is 1/6th of the island. I think maybe the Troubles were relevant to the whole island, just possibly.

Megan is better than you

Of online debate and hidden agendas:

I'm profoundly tired of being unable to say anything about the candidates without having it turn into a shouting match. I post a mildly amusing video about John McCain, and it immediately degenerates into a shouting match over whether he's, like, the worst person ever, or the victim of a liberal media conspiracy. No one seems to be able to be able to hold two different thoughts in their heads at once:

1. The houses thing is a silly issue that shouldn't make any difference in peoples' willingness to vote for McCain
2. The houses thing is funny, especially when set to Feist.
It's almost as if people care about this election thing. Stupid proles, you're supposed to maintain an ironic detachment. You see, the DC Village is hitting its hipster phase, and Megan just wants the rest of us to be cool, too.
Both Obama and McCain supporters seem convinced that my every utterance on the topic is part of my not-so-hidden agenda to undermine their candidate. I have no hidden agenda. My agenda is out-front and open; I'll probably vote for Obama, but not with any expectation that I'll like the result very much. I am not excited about this election. I do not believe that my vote is going to immanentize the eschaton. I do not think that I am engaged in a titanic battle, in which the forces of good must beat back the cosmic evil that threatens to engulf us all. I think I'm deciding which of two politicians to hand a lot of power I don't want either of them to have.
I think you're giving yourself too much credit. I do not think you're particularly intelligent. I think Megan misunderstands that the point is not MEGAN MCARDLE, but that there's an important election underway which people care deeply about the outcome of on both sides. I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing, having come of age in the previous decade when political cynicism ruled the roost. I think Megan's studied disinterest is bullshit, and her tepid support for Obama is dishonest and primarily part of her cover for remaining in the conservative closet.
It should be possible to debate the issues in this election at a level above "My guy's awesome and your guy is a big fat doody-head". But it doesn't seem to be. I find this profoundly depressing.
Says the woman who posted a "funny" video about an issue she apparently feels is trivial, thus raising the level of dialogue.
This kind of concern trolling is standard issue right wing bullshit. Megan just needs some pearls to clutch at to become Peggy Noonan, or a willingness to blame it all on the left to become Malkin or Amy Alkon. After all, we don't respond calmly and civilly to sociopaths who want America to enter a state of Total, Permanent War, so it's our fault Megan is depressed. If we were just nice like she is we'd remember that it doesn't matter how abhorrent someone's ideas are, if you aren't nice to them, you lose the debate.
N so what if the right both passive aggressively and directly makes use of eliminationist rhetoric. If you can't look past genocidal warmongering, assaults on your patriotism, and barely concealed personal threats to deal with someone politely, you're just a dirty fucking hippie. Manners before murder, folks. Remember this.

150 days

now remain in the Cheney Administration.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Duh, We Were So Impressed w/ Ourselves We Forgot a Title (Added 22 August '08 @ 1031 PDT)

Mme. McArdle checks in on the drinking age, or, as she refers to it: "The age of responsibility."

I'd lower the drinking age to 16, as in Europe, but require licenses to show that you haven't had a DUI.
Yup, lower it to 16 so that any 13-yr.-old will have ready, easy access to as much booze as they can afford. Oddly enough, drunk driving isn't the only concern w/ alcohol use & consumption. We can also note that the Euros had a culture w/ a sensible, relaxed approach to drinking long before any laws to control the drinking age were enacted. America's idiotic (or super-egoist) Puritan origins didn't & still don't allow for that, of course. Imagine a middle school course in "responsible drinking." It'd be almost as bad as "sex ed," where they teach the little ones to be gay or whatever.

In my day (said the wretched old weasel) 1969 & 1970 in Paris, the driving age was 18, for one thing. The booze laws were along the lines of anyone over 12 in a bar w/ their parents could drink wine, & there were varying stages of age, Mom &/or Dad being w/ you, & what exactly you could drink, but if my aging memory serves once you were 16 or 17 nothing was stopping you from drinking what you will w/o chaperons. These were regulations posted in bars, & entitled something along the lines of "Public Drunkenness, Minors & Something or Another."

Just plain buying liquor in the super market was open to all, as, I think, was whatever went on in the home. Here in the United Snakes I believe in many jurisdictions giving junior a half glass of wine is just plain illegal & bustable, though of course seldom enforced. I eventually stopped being surprised at the sight of an eight-yr.-old buying a litre or two of vodka (I hope for a parent) in the supermarket.

I've no idea what up w/ today's Europe (or much of anything else) but Megan is wrong here, believe it or not. I wouldn't be opposed to raising the drinking age to 25, to keep it out of the hands of those under 21. Frankly, as people live longer, & adolescence seems to stretch out forever, maybe the age of majority should be returned to 21, & no one under 30 (Or 35 even. After all, no one who can't serve as president should be forced to kill babies for oil cos.) should be allowed to enlist in the military.

Yes, she did drag this one out:
It's appalling that someone can go get killed in Iraq, but not buy a beer.
The missing word is "legally." Or we could dump the last clause entirely. Then we'd get:
It's appalling that someone can go get killed in Iraq.
Well, isn't it?

Elements of Style©: As opposed, of course, "to stay get killed in Iraq." I'm glad that was cleared up.

Even When She's Right, She's Wrong

First, we get hit with disturbing sexual inneundo in her post title "No, really, I'll pull out." I haven't been this permaflaccid since Bob Dole was pimping for Viagra. Seriously, I think my dick just shrank all the way up inside my body cavity.

Megan spends the post explaining that she thinks the possibility of a timetable for withdrawal being set while Bush is still in office is better for McCain than it is for Obama:

I'm puzzled by war opponents who think that voters will suddenly love Obama for having been "right all along". Assuming arguendo that this is true, the psychological logic is off. Most Americans supported the war. Do you become more endeared of your spouse when it turns out that you really should have taken that left fork thirty miles ago? Most people prefer folie à deux.
Unfortunately, she may be right about this. Of course, that doesn't make her any less incompetent.

Rather than feeding the early war proponents the same self-centered bullshit they've been filling up on ever since it became clear how stratospherically wrong they were, she could've pointed out that this isn't the best way to make a decision. How about actually conceding that Barack may have gotten it right because he has better-than-average judgment? Naw, after all, who wants the leader of the free world to be smarter than Dick, John, and Jane? Maybe she might point out that McCain was one of the earliest proponents of the war and his voice, filled with warmongering and lies, was one of the reasons so many Americans were fooled? McCain wanted us to invade Iraq BEFORE Bush started pushing for it, for fuck's sake. Why not point out that, while a lot of us were wrong along with him, he was the first to be wrong. His wrongness was a deciding factor in the wrongness of all those who trusted him to be right!

But, naw, that's too "complex" and the rubes won't get it. Stick to the cynical observations, Megan. It's not like you have a unique position of being a somewhat well listened to voice that might actually sway a few people to realize the folly of voting for the guy who was just as dumb as they were. Just go ahead and encourage them to vote for the guy that steered them wrong in the first place. Carry on, Megs. You're doing God's work.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

She took a laxative

the shit is flowing.

By request: grab bag #2:

Anti-"gouging" laws

Another incredibly stupid idea. Actual gougers get punished by the market, because no one buys their goods, and the neighbors remember. These laws are more frequently deployed against vendors who are selling goods that have suddenly become scarce, like gasoline generators after a hurricane. This discourages conservation. Moreover, the spiking prices generally attract new supply to the area, which is a good thing. People in a disaster area who can't get their hands on generators are no doubt comforted by the fact that at least they didn't pay too much for the privilege of sitting in the dark without refrigeration.
Wow. Just, wow. She's truly an idiot. Don't make it illegal to price gouge in the face of a natural disaster or punish people for doing so, because you're interfering with THE MARKET, you heretic. Sure, people might go without basic necessities, but soon more people will be there trying to take advantage of them, and if folk don't want to pay those ridiculous prices they can hope to survive until they come down.

By request: grab bag #3:
I have a very low opinion of politicians as people. People who run for office are, well, the kind of people who crave power and fame more than almost anything else. These are not my favorite kinds of people. Now, I do think there are some extra-specially awful politicians (no, I name no names). But I don't think McCain is one of them. I disapprove of the man as a politician, but I'm not going to not vote for him merely because I think he cheats. My interlocutor argued that this shows that McCain thinks the rules apply to everyone but him. I would say that such a belief seems to be a prerequisite for running for office. Check, say, Al Gore's position on a) vouchers and b) sending his own children to private school.
Lemme guess, Gore sent his children to private school and took advantage of potential tax breaks for doing so, but doesn't want to scrap the entire American public school system in favor of giving kids cash handouts and hoping for the best. What a hypocrite.

Megan will never make it on tv. She's even stupider when she's off the cuff. Even Tucker Carlson would laugh at some of this crap.

She really is an asshole

By request: subsidising the arts:

Should government subsidise the arts and sports?

Yeah. Fuck the arts, let's include them in the same category as water polo. How is Megan supposed to know how much she likes a work of art without a price tag attached to it? What has a poet ever done for her? (Aside from coining the damnable term agnotheist.) Government support for the arts takes them out of the free market. Can you imagine, an art world where success is based on talent and achievement, instead of how well you can market yourself?
It'd be like a fashion industry that didn't inherently hate women. Just unimaginable.


A reader askes Megan: "I think Jonah Goldberg once said the invention of the automobile did more to disrupt traditional societies than any political or legal change. Do you agree?"

Megan replies:

Probably true. Certainly, it was the first step towards the sexual revolution. It also disaggregated communities, separating peoples' business interests from their residential interests. In my opinion, the latter was not a salutory development, and should have (but was not) been matched by larger regional government bodies to bring those interests back into alignment.
For one, Jonah Goldberg is fucking retarded. As to how the invention of the automobile (not the proliferation, use, or ubquity of the automobile) was the 'first step' in the sexual revolution, well...I'm not so sure that the invention of Road Head was that impactful.

The separation of peoples' business interests from their residential interests, or to simplify it, the fact that people didn't work entirely out of their fucking house, did not start because the automobile was invented. THAT was a product of bureaucritzation, which was a product of the industrial revolution, so Megan is about a decade off. And bureacratization was more impactful and important to the lives of people that it affected than anything else. Because people didn't work and live in the same space, and because children were young enough to work but not old enough to travel to work, they had to invent a word to describe this time period in a child's life. Hence, adolescence. And this.

Megan's being boring

but Amy Alkon isn't.

I was going to write a long piece mocking the stupid assertions, poor reasoning, and comic claims of victimization in Amy's post, but it finally hit me she's just trolling for links and an increased presence in the conservative blogosphere. She doesn't believe the crap she's spewing, she just hopes Instadouche and the like will continue to link to her in the wake of this.
I don't mean to give her too much credit, she's not a secret genius, but she has gotten more attention out of this, and that's clearly what she wanted. She's trying to cash in on the "lefties are mean" meme that conservatives project onto their political opponents, because the right has an underlying awareness of their ideological bankruptcy and find it so painful to be reminded of it they consider it an assault. They know they're full of shit, and it makes them feel bad to have to face it. If the left were truly polite, we'd let them drive humanity into extinction instead of hurting their feelings. Y'know, like how Megan is more civil because she doesn't swear when dismissing the concerns and lives of billions.
In truth, it's a good thing most conservatives are anti-drug. Can you imagine how paranoid they'd be on coke?
Oh wait, you can, you can read Amy Alkon's blog.
Amy? You have a nosebleed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rachel Maddow is getting her own MSNBC show

right after Olbermann.

Fuck yes.

Keep it Simple, Stupid

Megan has simple and stupid down COLD. Today's recipe; tomato sauce.

The Atlantic, from Twain to tomato sauce in one Republican abduction.


On an on related note; does anyone have the skinny on Ross-D removing the ability to comment from his blog? It just disappeared a little while ago and I couldn't find any post explaining why.

How much is Megan paid to be a pharmaceutical lobbyist?

it'd be nice if she were honest about it.

What's the matter with Massachussetts?

I know this is going to sound crazy controversial, but the reason that healthcare companies innovate is to make a profit. And those profits are the first thing that politicians target when they aim to keep costs down. Sadly, so far there's little recorded success with things like drug and medical equipment development outside of the private sector.
Except, of course, for the entirety of medical science before Big Pharma arose in, what, I'm guessing sometime in the 50s, and for all the achievements that governmental and academic research here and across the fucking globe have accomplished. Big Pharma sure has come up with a lot of boner pills, tho, you've got to give them that.
Dean Baker is proposing that the government should set up a parallel system, to prove how awesome it can be at drug development. Perhaps surprisingly, I agree--we should have empirical validation of the notion that the market is better at drug development. But the metric has to be the same as for private companies: an actual drug that people take. Drug development is not, as the activists screaming that the NIH "really" invents all the drugs, a simple matter of finding a target that might have some effect on a disease. Once you've found a target, you need a molecule that will hit it. And not just any molecule. It has to be small enough to dose orally, unless you're developing a short-term treatment for something really gnarly like cancer. It has to make it into the blood at detectable levels without gettng [sic] chewed up by the liver. Once in the blood, it has to do what you expect, which it often doesn't, and not do anything you don't expect, like kill the patients. It has to be cost-effective to manufacture, which means not only finding reasonably cheap ingredients and a short process, but also something that scales up to produce in industrial quantities--it's no good having a great molecule that can only be produced in .5 milligram lots by a team of devoted chemists. And oh, it has to improve the lives of enough people to make it worth all the research you've invested. Once you've nailed all that, and a few things I've forgotten, you have a drug. Until then, you have a maybe interesting chemical.
And the only way to accomplish this is to make business executives obscenely rich. There's just no other way.

A bit more

Megan left a comment I just can't ignore.

Daviddo, I don't want to be insulting, but the 10th grade history gloss of the abolition movement is grossly oversimplified, and also, doesn't refute anything I've said. You're wildly confused about cause and effect. My point is that the northern church played a causal role in the abolition movement. There is no reasonable reading of history that attributes a similar causal role to the southern church. Indeed, the cause runs the other way--there was considerable selection pressure on southern churches, with churches that spoke out against slavery (there were some) seeing their membership transfer to more amenable congregations.
Think of it this way: if religious people had not been driven by their faith to come out against slavery, the abolitionist movement would have, at best, come into being much later and much weaker than it did. Had the the southern churches said nothing about slavery, would slavery have collapsed? It's unlikely to have had any effect. I am well aware that the southern church provided revolting justifications for slavery, but it's very hard to read the relevant history and conclude that these did much to strengthen an institution that had very strong self-interest behind it, as well as the universal human tendency towards xenophobia. If you hadn't been debating ridiculous religious texts, you would have been debating equally ridiculous eugenic claims, or cultural arguments. People have a powerful way of finding reasons to believe what they want to.
Posted by Megan McArdle | August 19, 2008 5:36 PM
Don't blame Southern churches for what they actually did, they were just playing on human weaknesses for their own benefit. The Northern churches drawing on human strengths, however, deserve sole credit for those features of humanity.
Otherwise she'd have to admit religion is just like all of man's works; a mix of good and bad that depends on external factors to determine both its role and impact in events.


And that was the point which Megan has been trying to obscure behind mountains of shoddy, circular reasoning; religion does not offer obvious political imperatives. There is no clear compulsion to be anti-abortion if you're Christian, and Christ did not share in Old Testament homophobia. Church and state should be separate for the benefit of both. Megan may be stupid enough or paid to conflate bigoted reactionary culture war conservatism with Christianity, but there are many genuine Christians who haven't made that mistake, and I can only begin to imagine their torment in periods like these, when politics and churches mix to dangerous degrees. Preachers let political concerns drive their sermons, and politicians let what, I'm sorry, are a collection of superstitions drive real world policy to the detriment of everyone but themselves. Religion is not designed to provide answers to political questions.
Megan is trying to enable dominionists, and I doubt she realizes it, unless it is, as I suspect, because she got a memo telling her to do so.

And she's still at it

I don't have another long ass post in me, but I can't ignore this.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a person!:

I don't think this works, for a number of reasons. Mr Coates is intermingling a scientific definition of humanity with the social definition--what I called "personhood". They happen to be contiguous in America right now, but that's by no means a universal cultural constant. Our Victorian ancestors were perfectly capable of recognizing that Africans met the basic scientific requirements to be counted in the human being--whites and blacks could interbreed and produce viable offspring. That's one of the reasons that I'd dispute that either slavery or Jim Crow were overthrown by science--it would be nice if this were so (I think), but the debate wasn't fundamentally scientific. It was a debate over what entities are included in the social definition of "person".
Megan? Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901. Further, slavery was fully abolished in England before Victoria took the throne. You quite literally have no idea what you're talking about here. You might as well describe string theory.
Western society has been expanding its definition of personhood for centuries--an ancient Roman wouldn't understand the notion that everyone who happened to find himself inside Roman territory should be entitled to the rights of a Roman citizen. Indeed, most non-Christian societies would have been puzzled at the notion that infants were people with a right not to be killed even if their family found them inconvenient. Nor would Tamerlane easily comprehend the notion that the citizens of the cities he sacked had a basic human right not to be raped and/or dismembered. For that matter, I doubt the African slavers who captured and sold most of the people who were sent to America as slaves thought that they were doing anything wrong; my understanding is that they were taking captives from other tribes and nations, who probably fell outside their mental definition of what constituted a person.
Ancient citizenship? What the fuck do you know about ancient citizenship, Megan, and what does it have to do with anything, at all? It wasn't about personhood. At all. Neither is raping and pillaging a city a denial of the personhood of its residents. If anything, it's a fucking direct assault on their personhood. Ancient Greeks and Romans knew their slaves were people because, unlike American slaveowners, they faced the at least hypothetical possibility of being enslaved themselves, one day. Read some Roman comedy, Megan, and tell me they didn't know slaves were people.
N Megan? Calling African slavers too stupid to understand their tribal enemies were people too is racist in a way that I can only commend you for; you've made slavers momentarily sympathetic. Wow.
As an aside, we do need to credit religion for much of this. The Church has certainly committed its share of religious atrocities, but it was also, as I understand it, the main force eliminating practices like infanticide, "honor guards" and even human sacrifice in Western Europe.
It's not relevant that churches in the south supported slavery. Support for slavery would have existed without the church. Opposition to it wouldn't have, without the churches that preached their conscience and gave the movement a ready-made base for organization. Or such is my understanding of the history.
Fuck you, Megan, you're lying. You don't believe that, it's too stupid even for you. You just can't admit YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG. Empirically so. You really need to work on figuring out how to cover that evangelical ass kissing requirement David Bradley just dropped on you more effectively. Even your commenters are having trouble swallowing this. Glossing over the Inquisition and religious wars in Europe and the campaign of genocide in the Americas is just... lazy.
Back to personhood. In at least one place we've contracted that definition. We used to think fetuses were persons, but over the last forty or fifty years, we've decided that they aren't. That's not because the science has changed; the relevant facts were all known in 1960. Rather, various cultural changes have made fetal personhood much harder to sustain socially than it was fifty years ago, so we rescinded it.
"We used to think fetuses were persons, but over the last forty or fifty years, we've decided that they aren't."
My best guess is this is an attempted reference to Roe v Wade, only Megan is too stupid to even know when that fairly important decision was issued. Nevermind it wasn't about the rights of a fetus but the rights of a WOMAN, what the fuck is she talking about? How can she describe herself as pro-choice and agree with such obvious anti-abortion propaganda? And Megan, you might note that the changes you're misrepresenting more accurately coincide with the development of the pill, if you weren't a piece of shit.
I think that in both cases we've got it right, and moreover I don't think that even most pro-lifers actually believe in the full personhood of the fetus, because if they did they'd be for capital punishment for women who have abortions, and against exceptions for rape and incest.
Silly Megan, they are. They just understand they can't admit it in public until they've further changed the terms of the debate. Just like you can't come out of the conservative closet until you've finished passive aggressively revenging yourself on all those liberals who show how full of shit you are.
while I'm pretty settled on my opinions of black personhood, I'm less sanguine about my notions of fetal (non) personhood, and frankly puzzled by the pro-choicers who not only believe that their definition is right, but that it has been arrived at by some super-scientific process that could only be disputed by a woman-hating religious nut who has blinded himself to the obvious rational answer. There are two obvious bright lines: conception (or implantation), and birth.
Yah hear that, black folk? Megan is ok with calling you people. You can relax now.
And Megan? Please, take a class on human biology. Conception and implantation are vastly different things, though, like you, most anti-abortion folk can't recognize the distinction, and neither mean that, save for an abortion, the woman is having a baby. There's all sorts of stuff that can happen along the way, from miscarriages to worse. Legal personhood has never been, in the US, anything but a person who has exited their mother's uterus in a living state. Changing that WOULD lead to charging women who have abortions with crimes, and if you're unsure whether you're ok with that, you are not pro-choice. That's an obvious bright line, Megan.
But most pro-choicers do not. The label "pro-choice" tolerates a very wide degree of disagreement about when personhood begins, from the end of the first trimester all the way to birth. If it's so obvious that pro-lifers must be willfully blind, how come we can't agree?
Because you aren't pro-choice, you're a selfish asshole.

The voice of God

I ain't making it up. Megan titled one of her own posts The voice of God. I think maybe her delusions of grandeur are growing.

The religion thread, predictibly, has brought out people who seem convinced that the opinion that life begins at conception is definitionally illegitimate because many of the people who hold it are religious. This seems flatly ridiculous to me.
I'm not even gonna bother to check out how Megan is misrepresenting her opponents here, it's just too obvious she's doing so. Anyhow, let's see how she slays this straw-dragon.
The question of personhood is not definitionally religious, even if the only people interested in expanding society's definition of personhood are religious. Blacks are people, and those of us without any particular religious convictions are able to apprehend this, even if 150 years ago the only people much interested in prosecuting their claim to personhood were ministers and their flocks.
Ah, standard anti-abortion boilerplate. Fetuses and slaves are, like, totally equivalent, and only religious folk have the moral standing to teach the rest of us what to believe.
It is certainly possible to believe that life begins at conception without reference to God. And once a question is legitimately in the political sphere--in a way that, I would argue, the divinity of Christ or the Mohammedan succession is not--it's not really particularly reasonable to declare that people may not have reference to their own faith in deciding what they believe. Few people on the left seem worried by the fact that the anti-death-penalty movement gets much of its energy from left-wing churches, nor that those same churches have organized substantial opposition to the Iraq War.
Sure, you can say life begins at conception without belief in God, you just also have to lack basic awareness of human biology and reproduction.
And lessee. The left has no problem with left leaning churches supporting anti-death penalty efforts and anti-war efforts, but we have a problem with churches working against abortion rights. Hmmmm, first off, those left leaning churches are fucking doing what CHRIST TOLD THEM TO DO. The Bible doesn't mention abortion (yeah, I know they try to twist a couple lines, but fuck that noise), nor did Jebus mention gays. But he did kinda come out against war and suffer capital punishment himself, Megan, you fucking moron. Also, anti-abortion activists are intrusive busybodies who aren't relying on religion to support their morality, but typically the angry ravings of some hate filled evangelical preacher. Oh, and anti-war and pro-choice activists tend not to murder doctors and other care givers. Small diff.
But Megan continues
Indeed, though I myself am pro-choice and mostly irreligious, it seems more likely to me that the main effect of faith is to spur people to embrace causes that are personally and socially inconvenient. Slaveowners didn't need religion to motivate them to defend slavery; they had a powerful financial interest in doing so. Similarly, the pro-choice movement, at least in my experience, gets most of its activist energy from reproductive-aged women who have a strong interest in being able to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
You're not pro-choice, Megan. Your language and arguments betray you. You're a rich asshole who only cares that you, yourself, have these options. You don't give a fuck about the women who actually get abortions, or the women in the south and midwest who've been effectively denied their choice by a lack of there being anywhere nearby to have an abortion performed. If Megan makes an oopsie, she wants an out. That's all she's concerned with. That's why she projects her own motivations onto others and accuses them of being self-interested; she can't conceive of any other motivation. Like, say, the welfare of poor women.
Also, nice try at dismissing the role of religion in maintaining slavery and other historical injustices. That's total bullshit, Megan. Open a history book.
By contrast, what self-interest was served by the abolitionist movement then, or the pro-life movement now? There's a legend among many pro-choicers that everyone in the pro-life movement is a patriarchal, selfish man who wants to force women to have babies in order to control them. In fact, women and men are roughly equally likely to be pro-life. The best that pro-lifers get out of their movement is--having to carry their own unwanted pregnancies to term.
Y'know what'd be nice with a claim of fact like that? A fucking reason to believe you, Megan. Because you're full of shit. You really think that the vast majority of pro-lifers, male and female, aren't motivated by the desire to effect their will on others? You really call yourself pro-choice and deny the readily apparent fact that the anti-abortion movement is driven by misogyny and a conservative backlash against women declaring their reproductive freedom? Megan completely ignores that the hardcore base of the anti-abortion movement is even anti-birth control, because that shows her argument is utterly without merit, and that the movement is about reasserting male authority over women. Women can also be misogynists, Megan. Even you should understand that.
Absent self-interest, you need some other motive, and Christianity provides a good one; the New Testament doesn't have much sympathy for the notion that you're too busy or too embarassed to follow your convictions. Obviously, there's also the social clustering of belief--Quakers tend to be environmentalists not necessarily because Jesus said so, but because the kind of people who are attracted to Quakerism are also attracted to left-wing causes. Likewise, Southern Baptists tend to vote Republicans for a number of reasons, of which religion may be the least.
You're not an agnostic, Megan. You just claimed there is no morality without religion. That stupid bullshit has been used by priests and preachers to bias their flocks against non-Christians since the beginning of Christianity, and only the morons in the faithful fall for it. I, for one, haven't missed the bitter irony of the Bush years that liberal atheists tend to be the ones advocating the positions Christ would have held nowadays, but then I've read the Bible and recognize how little evangelical Christianity has to do with it. Megan seems to feel anyone who shouts "I love Jebus!" loudest and most often wins.
I presume that no one, not even religion's most dogmatic opponents, believes that encouraging people to do what they think is right is a pernicious aspect of religion. Since observationally, almost none of them seem to think so when the religious person in question agrees with them, this seems like just another disingenuous way to attempt to shut down debate.
Megan? I have a problem with that. Like, when, say, a religion encourages violence against non-members. Y'know, like the Inquisition. Or when religion is used to encourage genocide, like in the European conquest of the Americas. Or when it's used to justify slavery or the degradation of women. The religious impulse is not unambiguously good, or moral, Megan, and you are fundamentally stupid to argue it is. Most honest priests wouldn't even claim that.
Now, that doesn't mean that religious arguments have a place in the public square. Opponents of gay marriage need a better reason than "God said no" to appeal to those of us who are skeptical that this God exists, or those who think that God said something else entirely. But it's not possible to remove religious motivations from politics, and it's far from clear to me that the country would be a better place if we had.
Fortunately, the Founding Fathers didn't agree, and Megan's unAmerican sentiments don't have legal backing. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a nation ruled by laws, but instead by the whims of an idiot king.
Also, you gotta love the poor reasoning behind spending several hundred words claiming the religious have a superior moral basis then saying that the internal logic she just argued in favor of fails in another issue. Megan is saying the religious right is right, but she's not going to be held to their logic. She's given herself a dispensation.
I wonder when the personal crisis that leads Megan back into extremely conservative Catholicism will be. She wants to be Catholic, she just doesn't want to hold herself to its doctrines. Something is gonna have to give, and it's gonna be quite a sight to see when it does.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ezra.... Better than Himself.

Hoo boy:

(...)I've got a feature in this month's Prospect(...)
Anyway, the piece is transcendent, give it a read.
He knows it's transcendent 'cause his mom told him so. What she failed to tell him was that it transcends any kind of decent writing or even proper grammar/syntax.

Dear lord, these people think highly of themselves.


Amy Alkon continues to produce sheer comic genius.
I know my linking to her blog in non-complimentary terms is an act of fascism, but I just can't help it.
Is she the most insecure person in the world?

Yay for religious zealotry

Megan, being much more informed about religion than us atheists who've read the Bible and studied Christian history, has something to say about the intermixing of religion and politics. In a pure coincidence, what she has to say is supportive of the conservative culture war evangelicals who want to install Sharia law Biblical law in place of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and all that moldy old bunk. It's not like she's a libertarian or anything.

But if I did have a firm belief in God, I'd have a hard time reconciling the following two principles:

1. There is an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent deity, and man's highest destiny is to fulfill His purpose
2. I routinely ignore what this deity says because my neighbors disagree

I can't see how you can have any sort of meaningful faith and divorce it from your voting decisions. Religious faith is supposed to tell you, among other things, what is right and wrong. How are you supposed to vote without reference to your notions of goodness?
That's right, believers, Megan the AGNOSTIC is quite ready to judge your commitment to your faith, based on whether you meet her preconceived notions of what kind of small minded, hateful activities you should engage in for Jebus. (Btw, "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" is apparently no longer in the Bible. Megan is an editor, after all.)
America, and to a lesser extent other western nations, have a long history of keeping doctrinal disagreements out of the public square, an excellent notion. But my reading of political history, admittedly incomplete, does not indicate that our predecessors actually thought that people were supposed to vote entirely without recourse to their relgious faith--that the Almighty God was supposed to be kept in a dark corner of your heart where he couldn't possibly affect any public portion of your life.
Yeah, that whole separation of church and state thing is just a notion, a vague guideline that no one ever took seriously. That's why Bush's attempt to undo the boundary is completely non-controversial.
Indeed, some of the noblest endeavors in American history, like the fight against slavery and the civil rights movement, were very explicitly religious movements, and wouldn't have succeeded half so well without the power of the church behind them. Though I don't share their faith, I'm totally okay with that. Believers will believe. The rest of us will have to judge their beliefs by our own lights, of course.
Also, the Salem Witch trials. And the acceptance of slavery in the Old Testament was never once used as justification for slavery. Neither has religion played any role in the subjugation of women, nor the genocide of the indigenous tribes of the Americas.* It's almost as if part of why the Founders tried to limit the role of religion in politics is because the Bible can be used to justify any action or position imaginable, and that small minded zealots and power hungry opportunists often use religion as a trojan horse for whatever hateful, self-serving agenda they choose.
After all, Jebus was all about hating on the gays, which means the evangelicals today are just following the dictates of their God when they try to keep homosexuals from having equal rights. It's not like Jebus made a point of saying the Old Testament was too brutal and no longer applicable cuz he was God n he said so. And it's not as if the Bible is actually a work of man, coming out of a specific context with specific cultural goals in mind for the period in which it was collected, meaning large amounts of it are effectively anachronistic and not eternal truths of any kind. And a Founding Father like Jefferson, being a deist, would not have agreed with what I just said, at all. Megan is ok with uninformed superstition and bigotry dressed up with religious imagery being made into public policy, probably because she thinks she'd be insulated from the outcome as a member of the DC Village and a child of wealth.
It's like with abortion rights. As long as no one she knows ever has to meet a bent coat hanger, Megan's not gonna worry about it.

Oh, and Megan?
For an agnotheist like me, all this means is a pretty healthy skepticism of prayer in schools.
That sentence means you are uncertain whether prayer in school exists. Not that you're unsure whether it's a good idea, but that you have doubts about its existence. Please go back to school and study English, you need to learn to write.

*- Or anything to do with why it took until 1960 to elect a Catholic President, or why we've never had a Jewish one.

Megan's laws of politics

Megan's Fourth Law of Politics: The party that starts looking for implausible and unprovable conspiracy theories about the opposition candidate is in trouble.
She goes on to compare calling Obama a Muslim to suggesting McCain didn't honor the terms of the evangelical hosted non debate over the weekend, a completely balanced comparison. After all, there are millions of Americans who'd never vote for a guy who seems not to have remained in a "cone of silence" during a time period he had agreed to do so. Apples to apples.
But anyhow, the natural question is what Megan's other three laws of politics are. Fortunately, I can tell you.

  • Megan's Third Law of Politics: You need a high definition tv and secret DC elite cable channels to actually follow politics.
  • Megan's Second Law of Politics: My Mom is a statistically significant polling group.
  • Megan's First Law of Politics: Voters are so stupid they won't even let me tell them what to think. (Codicil: I also don't need to care about what they think.)

There are, of course, further laws and secondary rules. For example,
no job really qualifies you to run the world's only remaining superpower; there's a vast amount that simply must be learned by doing.
We'll call this the Bush Law. (Comes from the same link as the third law.)
Then there's the Law of Endorsement, which says that repeatedly publicly declaring your support for one candidate doesn't mean you can't shill for the opposing candidate or refuse to vote for the one you endorsed.
There are countless more, and if we're lucky Megan will one day collect them in a single volume, proving to the world that politics, like everything else, are really all about her.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

She can't even properly rape a corpse

I have to give Amy Alkon credit for one thing; she makes Megan seem careful and considered in her work, hard as that is to believe. Also, Megan doesn't delete comments and ban anyone expressing any kind of disagreement. Credit where it's due, I suppose. We're just misogynists to Megan, not fascists.
So, Amy wanted to remind us all that the Twin Towers were brought down by a terrorist attack. Now, sure, unlike Amy I'm still in NYC and can see the Towers of Light every year from my place, but I must've forgotten, since I don't agree with her irrational hatred of Islam.

How much clearer does it have to become, how damaging it is for us to be beholden in any way to these barbarians, the Saudis? The World Trade Center, but for our need for Mid-East oil, would surely still be standing, and 3,000-plus innocent people who happened to work in just the wrong building, and those who died trying to save them -- on that day or of respiratory and other illnesses afterward -- would surely be going about their lives and business today.
Umm, Amy? That 3,000 number includes not just the rescue workers who died that day, but also the people in the planes and the Pentagon. I know it's a minor nit to pick, but if you're going to use corpses as props, you should show them proper respect. An inability to get even basic facts right just further demonstrates how poor your arguments are. Stupidity and hatred are not good premises.
Also, there were 2 (two) Twin Towers. And WTC 7. And the Pentagon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Good times

Hello Amy Alkon readers!
Please, stay and teach us the error of our ways. In truth, this blog is little more than a cry for help.

Friday, August 15, 2008

La McA. on Facebook

Welcome back to high school, thirtysomethings.
Did she ever leave?

If You Have A Mind, Please Make It Up

It would make my day, if not the whole wk., if Ms. McArdle could just once state a firm opinion about something, or at least have an idea.

Instead, it's weasel words all the way.

At least we can take comfort in the notion that income inequality is probably falling . . .

"Notion," "probably." She's the Queen of The Qualifiers. And I, for one, have no idea where she gets this notion. Not from anything that she typed or quoted that I read, that's certain.

The Halt Pimping for the Blind

A reading suggestion from Megan.

Did this Jeff Goldberg catch her doing something awful on the premises of The Atlantic? Is he related to the infamous Jonah Goldberg?

Did it actually take Jeffrey & Jennie Rothenberg Gritz to write four crappy e-mail spoofs? At least he credited her, though the ulterior motive may been to spread the blame.


Megan sez

The problem is, the writing is dreadful. The Left Behind series reads like it was written by a fourteen year old B student with a HUGE crush on Jesus Christ.
There's no reason this should be so; religious faith is one of the great human dramas. Nor is it that they are pitched to a general audience; there are a lot of great mass-market storytellers. So why haven't better writers emerged in this genre?
Megan, why do you have a job? Maybe it's because success does not equal talent?
People want easy, glib answers, not nuanced explorations of the depths of the human experience. You should understand this, you're shallow and glib yourself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Those Damn Empires

Megan's piped up a few times now about the conflict in Georgia. Cleverly, she's referenced the same song in the titles of two of her posts. Seriously, she's not even phoning it in anymore. She's smoke signaling it in.

There's a smattering of stupid in all around, but the main underlying idiocy and bias is her deeply furrowed brow over those pesky pinkos (uh.. shit, what color are they now? Whatever, they'll always be commies!!!!!!!!) trying to rebuild their empire.

So let's compare and contrast a couple of conflicts and Megan's views on them.

If a country wants to invade another country thousands of miles away, that has no shared ethnic or cultural background, has made no direct threats in decades, and coincidentally contains large amounts of a very precious resource, invading it is ok. That's not empire building. That's just fighting the good fight

On the flip side, if a country that borders you -and contains two regions cultural and ethnically similar to you that have declared autonomy and indicated a strong willingness to become a part of your country- sends their army into one of said disputed regions, well, you're just a damn power hungry lunatic for thinking that you can send troops there yourself! How dare those Russians try to force those South Ossetians and Abkhazians to join the country that they want to be a part of! Where will they stop? HAVE THEY NO SENSE OF DECENCY?!?!?!?

I guess, then, that Megan would be OK with Russia invading Mexico or something.

Now, before someone points out that I don't know what I'm talking about, let me admit that I may not know what I'm talking about vis-a-vis the Russia-Georgia conflict (Though, from what little I've read, no one knows what the hell is going on in the Caucasus). Furthermore, I'm not entirely sure that Russia hasn't done a number of things wrong during this conflict. However, Megan's accusations that Russia is attempting to rebuild its empire is based on a combination of jack and shit. I got curious about the situation and actually read a couple of articles, almost all of which indicated that South Ossetia and Abkhazia would both love nothing more than to be absorbed by Russia and at the very least want nothing to do with Georgia. So, once again, Megan doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about.

Shocking, ain't it?

For a bonus kicker, she expresses dismay that America should ZOMG DO SOMETHING BEFORE THE RUSSIANS ARE KNOCKING DOWN OUR DOORS AGAIN!!!! About what exactly should be done, she remains unsurprisingly silent. Blind ideology is her thing, not actual solutions to problems.

I think I have an idea, though. It involves our armed forces. Guess what it is? That's right; let's start another war! YIPPEE! It's been a while since we killed us some Ruskies! Nothing says "doing something" like an F-16! Hoooo doggie!