Archive for April, 2010

Basically everyone would agree that an oil spill is an unfortunate event in any scenario. However, I knew very little about the differences in one spill vs. another and what makes one worse, besides the obvious total gallons spilled. It turns out there are many other factors, as this story indicates. And the situation brewing in the Gulf, sadly, has many of the characteristics that might make this a spectacularly damaging spill.

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…it might go a little something like this, the best thing I saw today:

Hat tip: Sully

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Hey, we’ve been busy and bad at bloggering. A real post will come soon.

In the meantime, enjoy this:

Errol Morris calls it the best commercial of all time. He’s probably right.

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I’ve been mulling over in my mind an exposition on why the Democrats appear so feckless to me. I’ve been thinking about this more over the past few days while I’ve witnessed an emerging narrative regarding financial regulatory reform. This new conventional wisdom is that the fraud charges against Goldman Sachs seal the deal. It says that this reform was already trending towards the likelihood of passing, and that the recent news makes it an unstoppable juggernaut, prompting both the content of the bill to get harsher towards the banks, and the pressure on Republicans to vote for it almost impossible to resist.

And I still just don’t buy it.

Now, to be sure, a financial regulation bill might still pass. It might even be a good bill. Let’s not forget that I was wrong about health care. I said it would never pass, and yet it obviously did. However, I do note – quite importantly, I think – that it passed with zero votes from Republicans in either side on Congress. It was only a clever finagling of rules that made the health care law even possible. And so with the financial reform bill, even if it does pass, and even if it does pick up a single vote from a Republican in Congress, I still think Obama and the Democrats are long, long overdue in understanding the basis and nature of their opposition. Krugman neatly sums up the key idea:

“I have a theory about the problem here. My understanding is that Obama officials have looked at the polls, which show that the public overwhelmingly favors cracking down on Wall Street; so they assumed that the GOP wouldn’t dare stand in the way. But they seem not to have learned, even now, that the right has an awesome ability to create its own reality: that Mitch McConnell et al would stand in the way of reform while claiming to be taking a stand against Wall Street.

Nor can you count on the truth to sink in with the public. The conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, among other things, make it surprisingly easy to get away with even the most obvious hypocrisy.”


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Kagan, Wood, and Garland would all make OK Supreme Court justices. They wouldn’t be my pick, but after reading opinions and writings, I feel fairly confident that they would not drastically change the ideological composition of the court.

That said, I do have a problem with the way they have made their way onto the short list. Notably, none of them have made significant opinions on abortion (save Wood, who did little more than uphold current law) and none of them have a lot of opinions from which to draw controversy. Yet, even Sonia Sotomayor, whose career seems entirely based on prudence and non-confrontational, was dragged over the coals for one (fairly benign) line that she dropped in speeches across the board. God forbid she had any real public opinions!

I would like to point out Goodwin Liu, the lightning rod nominee for the 9th Circuit. Here he is getting rhetorically slapped around by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.):

Does he have some radical opinions? You bet! Here’s Liu on reparations:

Here’s Liu on the rightward swing of the Supreme Court:

My point here is that under the current system of only permitting the most publicly silent judges, Liu is not allowed to be a federal judge because he has had opinions. Other nominees could probably be recessed, but Liu’s is controversial precisely because he has made public some of his more radical opinions.

If we lose the ability to appoint judges who have put their opinions out there, we lose our ability to accurately gauge what that judge will do on the bench. Does anyone have any question on what principles Liu would behave as a federal judge? On the other hand, I have no earthly idea what principles Elena Kagan would use, simply because she holds them close to her chest. She knows full well that revealing too much of her personal and judicial philosophy in specific cases might lead her to be unappointable.

This is truly unfortunate. If we limit ourselves to only the judges with the fewest controversial statements, we lose not only our Stevenses and Blackmuns, but also our Scalias and Rehnquists. Scholarship is not a crime, and demanding silence from our potential judges keeps real scholarship out of the courts.

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American voters like guts. And Republicans have got them. In the three years, one of them
is gonna beat you.

You know I imagine the view from your largely unscrutinized place in history must be very
different from mine. But I remind you sir, that I have the following things to negotiate:
an opposition Congress, special interests with power beyond belief, and a bitchy media.

So did Harry Truman.

Well, I am not Harry Truman.

Mr. Bartlet, you needn’t point out that fact.

“The Short List,” The West Wing

Alan Grayson (D-Kicking Ass) has gone on the offensive for the Democrats, and he has discussed with Tom Perriello (D-Taking Names) a new brand for Democrats — Congressmen with Guts. (I would add a few more to the list… Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) come to mind.) The point is not that they are partisan; Perriello is not a lefty by any stretch, despite his coming from Virgil Goode’s old district. The point is that they stand by their legislative achievements and plan to run on them. Democrats will probably get wiped out in November, but a lot can change in 7 months. Perriello, Grayson and Shea-Porter could all lose. But to quote Perriello:

My ultimate goal is not to get reelected […] It’s to know that I did the best damn job I could representing the people of the 5th District and making a difference. That’s just a different litmus test than some of the powers that be are used to working with.

This has been my argument for some time — fortune favors the bold. Timidity has not helped the Democrats, watering down bill after bill and letting Republicans run the agenda. Partisanship is not a bad thing. We have our agenda and we have been given the power by the electorate to enact that agenda. In due time, let the voters decide, and the election in November will have a lot more to do with our nation’s economic health than the “partisanship/bipartisanship” babble in the Beltway. Until then, the best bet for Democrats is to enact what they promised — a legitimate progressive agenda.

Don’t back down on the Supreme Court; don’t back down on Wall Street; don’t back down on immigration reform; don’t back down on anything.

They’ll like us when we win.

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As I previously noted, “Star Wars Uncut” has random people put together 15-second clips of “sweded” Star Wars clips — do-it-yourself clips that are then mashed up into a recreation of the full-length movie.

Different from the now-tired trend of bands playing their great albums from start to finish, this recreation allows us to see fan culture at its most innovative, provocative and hilarious. Fandom has become a way of turning what seems like a submissive act — worshiping at the altar of some celebrity demigods — to a transgressive one — loving the thing so much that you actually change it.

Anyways, enjoy the clip. Full screenings start soon!

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