Thursday, December 28, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Where Republican Governance Leads....
Well they can't run the state or the country, but those Republicans -- they sure know how to rename things after Ronald Reagan. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the Internets themselves get named for the Gipper. Note to the Jersey GOP: this is probably not the way you want to position yourselves against the corrupt Democratic establishment.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Long live our alliance with Libya
Your friend and mine in the Global War on Terror has just convicted a bunch of innocent foreigners on ridiculous charges of infecting children with HIV. They will be executed. But you see, Qaddafi is a good Arab and Saddam was a bad Arab. You understand the difference, right?
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Thursday, December 14, 2006
Michael Kinsley's ridiculous article on Jimmy Carter's new book
As if anyone needed more evidence that the mainstream American left doesn't care at all about Palestinians or even understand the problem, along comes Michael Kinsley with a really idiotic review of Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Kinsley argues that the Palestinians aren't as bad off as the South African blacks because, after all, they have citizenship in Israel. Of course, Carter wasn't talking about the Palestinians in Israel but rather the millions of citizenship-less, unemployed Palestinians trapped behind fences in Gaza and the West Bank. The fact that Kinsely avoids talking about those Palestinians -- whose situation does have certain parallels with South Africa -- indicates one of two things to me. Either Kinsley doesn't have the tiniest clue what he's talking about, or he's deliberately misrepresenting Carter's book. You have to think that a pundit who's been around as long as Kinsley would know the elementary facts of this conflict, so I'm going to go with deliberate misrepresentation.
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Stop dogging on the fans
So I see the intrepid Philly sports writers have climbed aboard the Bash the Fans bandwagon. I guess they're out of mean things to say about our wretched sports teams, so it's time to go after the paying customers. Before Monday night's Eagles game against Carolina, ESPN did an excruciatingly long feature story on the Snowballing of Santa -- a boilerplate story that apparently must be mentioned every time a major national sporting event takes place in this city. You had to know that Gov. Rendell - who was at the game in question -- would be hauled out to talk about it too. This 38-year-old event is trotted out by the media to demonstrate what callous boors the fans in this city are, even though we aren't the ones who started a riot on disco demolition night, destroyed the city after a championship, or started a globally-broadcast melee from the stands. And I sort of don't think the infamous 1995 forfeit - in which Dodgers fans tossed hundreds of souvenier baseballs at players and umpires - gets mentioned every single time they broadcast a game from L.A.
But it got worse during the game. At one point the Panthers absolutely laid Jeff Garcia out with a brutal hit, and backup A.J. Feeley put on a helmet and started onto the field. But Garcia pulled himself off the mat and waved Feeley away, and the Philadelphia fans committed the terrible crime of booing. From the announcers' reactions you would have thought the fans had caught a flight to Darfur and slaughtered some villagers. Hey Lords of Decency: Philly fans like A.J. Feeley and think he should be starting, with or without one lonely 3 touchdown performance from Garcia. That means we are going to boo Jeff Garcia. Deal with it. And maybe visit some other stadiums around this country, where they boo people all the damn time, even in Baseball Heaven out in St. Louis. Wankers.
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Capturing the social libertarians
God hath declared it illegal to gamble at this table
A friend of mine who basically makes his living playing online poker is despondent about the fate of pokerroom.com, which is in the process of booting all of its U.S.-based players because of yet another idiotic law passed by the 109th
As others have eloquently pointed out, making poker and other forms of online gambling illegal is counterproductive and pointless. People will figure out how to get around the laws, and the only people who will profit are either criminals or businesses based in other countries. If there are legions of mediocre poker players out there who want to give their money to poker sharks like my friend, then who am I or the U.S. government to stop them from doing so? The new gambling law is yet another example of how the Southern evangelical mode of thinking and social regulation has captured the public debate and made meaningful reform impossible. While banning online gambling is not the same kind of problem as the useless and globally destructive Drug War, it is representative of a certain kind of lawmaking.
I think there is a silent majority in this country that wants to be left alone to play poker, bet on football, pick up hookers, smoke joints, and find a nice doctor to euthanize them when they're ready to die. In other words, there's a silent majority of fun people in this country who want glassy-eyed scolds like Rick Santorum talking to them about sex, dying, and gambling about as much as they want to see Bill Bennett naked. And there is a major political vacuum waiting to be filled -- which is currently populated only by the far left and the libertarian party, neither of which has a great deal of influence on discourse in this country. The Democrats should recognize their historic opportunity to seize the social libertarian agenda and run with it. If people had any idea of size of the government-funded Leviathan that's being used to fight the drug war -- a "war" that can never be won unless Americans can be convinced to stop putting things that make them feel good up their noses -- they might adjust their voting priorities.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Let Them Eat Cake
Are you really free if you’re too fat to walk to the donut store?
Well, that’s the upshot of the debate currently raging through the legislative halls of New Jersey and New York City. Both the Garden State and the Big Apple are attempting to reinforce their healthy nicknames by eradicating trans fats from restaurant kitchens and grocery stores.
For those of us unaware of the horrors of the trans fat, it’s the unseen ingredient that puts the tasty in a Tastykake. But, according the NationalCancer Institute, trans fats “increase blood cholesterol levels and the risk or heart disease.” Basically, trans fats turn a liquid saturated oil into a solid fat. The synthetic creation allows ingredients to fry at a higher temperature, which apparently improves the frying outcome. Trans fats also give baked good a longer shelf life.
Concerned lawmakers have taken trans fat evils literally to heart, and
called for their total elimination. While butter-churning milkmaids everywhere eagerly await a windfall, restauranteurs are crying out for civil liberties. You can take away their trans fats, but you can’t take away their FREEEEDOM!!
The whole lard-laden melee reanimates one of the greatest political debates
of all time: is a person more free when they choose to be fat or when
they’re forced to be healthy?
Isiah Berlin most eloquently introduced this debate in his famous 1958 essay
“Two Concepts on Liberty.” Berlin’s claim asserts that the goals of men often conflict with one another. A momentary decision to eat a fatty donut, for example, is at loggerheads with my goal of shedding my
Halloween-candy-supplied love handles.
With the trans fat fiasco, Berlin's two liberties are challenged. Are you freer if you have the choice to cook with and eat your trans fats (this is Berlin’s concept of negative liberty)? Or does freedom arrive when you’re a healthy, self-actualized citizen -- (Berlin’s concept of positive liberty)? If you believe that freedom comes with the ability to make ones own individual choice -- say, you're right to commit suicide via baked goods, you're a fan of negative freedom. If you'd rather have government goad you into doing what's best for the whole of society -- say, require seat belts and airbags in cars while you're force fed baby carrots, then you're a positive liberty kinda citizen.
The essential question is whether government should force you into being free. Are we as Americans proud to be disgusting, gut-busted individuals, or would we rather become a squeaky-clean, health obsessed collective?
Americans often have trouble wrestling with these two concepts of freedom. As disciples of philosopher John Locke, we grab hold of our negative liberties like a security blanket and huddle in a fetal position. We relish in our freedoms to purchase a Glock with cop-killer bullets or ride around without a motorcycle helmet -- even if we understand that these options might not lead to the best possible future for ourselves or our community. We enjoy doing almost anything our selfish hearts desire – unless it inconveniences our equally selfish neighbor.
But there are those Americans in search of a more slender electorate – one without automatic weapons or brain-damaged quarterbacks. They see fellow citizens as often unable to control the destructive animals inside of them. And government serves as a check on their masochistic designs.
Both visions sveltely embody the nation’s historic ideals.
While some local eateries, including South Jersey staple Ponzio’s Diner, portend the end of their saccharine existence, other venues, including Monks and Standard Tap, have voluntarily opted for non-trans fat alternatives.
Though the ubiquity of trans fats is unknown to those without culinary acumen, it doesn’t take Craig LaBan to understand that Krispy Kreme isn’t the healthy option. Erasing trans fats entirely seems to toss the Baby Ruth bar out with the bathwater.
Confectionaries carry with them unfriendly consequences. Part of their delectability lies in their forbidden ingredients. Like sneaking your high school boyfriend into you bedroom, trans fats feel even more exciting because you know you’re breaking the
rules. In the morning, there’s lots of guilt – and your tummy might start to
grow. But you knew the possible consequences when you committed the crime.
Yes, the public needs more information on the dangers of trans fats, like teenagers need the fear of God and pregnancy. And restaurants, like Planned Parenthood, should happily offer nutritional information to their patrons.
But lawmakers must trust that we know donuts and French fries are the devil’s foods. Please, let us indulge without legal recompense.
More below the fold
- The Duck of Minerva
- The Arabist
- Glenn Greenwald
- Bitch, PhD
- Josh Marshall
- The Poor Man
- The Rittenhouse Review
- Roger Ailes
- Daily Kos
- Kevin Drum
- Donkey Rising
- Brad DeLong
- Juan Cole
- Liberal Oasis
- James Wolcott
- James Howard Kunstler
- The Head Heeb
- Liberal Oasis
- Sadly, No!
- Abu Aardvark
- Matt Yglesias
- Oliver Willis
- Spencer Ackerman
- Lebanese Political Journal