Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: November 2009 Page 1 of 4

On The Lie That Is “Fiscal Conservative”

I used to bang my head against the wall every time I heard someone say “I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.”  And then I realized I was going to need my brain for (hopefully) another 50 years.  But silly shit like this is the origin of that problem.  There are, in reality, *very* few “fiscal conservatives” (in a literal reading of the phrase) in elected office.  Rather, the phrase identifies those that cite spending/deficit/tax concerns as a reason to oppose most any social spending.  If you look at the records of the vast majority of these self-proclaimed “fiscal conservatives”, you’ll see that they go in – whole hog – for defense spending, farm subsidies, and tax cuts as if they’ve never encountered the idea of responsibility for balancing the books.  There’s no inherent fiscal conservatism there.  It’s simply someone who has latched onto a popular phrase to dishonestly explain away his behavior.

Nice Job, Switzerland

Rank stupidity abounds:

Projections based on ballot results suggest Swiss voters have backed a campaign to ban the construction of minarets, local television reported.

[ . . . ]

Rightwing parties led by the nationalist Swiss People’s party, the country’s largest, have labelled minarets symbols of militant Islam.

That’s right, centuries old architectural features are coming for you.   Morons.

Friday Music: Outrunning YouTube Edition

Stuck in my head for some reason:


A horrible no-good entirely forgettable movie.  And yet, the soundtrack is memorized.


(That one’s for you, Katie White & Stacy Sutton)


One day, there will be a mashup with the above and this track . . .

I’m sure Sony/BMG will kill it all soon, so click while you can . . .

Without Irony, I Fear

Andrew Sullivan, in the context of discussing the ridiculousness that is the Weekly Standard, writes:

As for Continetti, he wouldn’t be the first young man in a hurry in Washington. You’d be amazed at what ambition can get people to write, even in earnest.

See also, Andrew Sullivan in 1994.

Finding the Law That Governs Us

From an email to a listserv I’m on:

[E]arlier this week, we extended Google Scholar to allow anyone anywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts. We hope that this addition to Google Scholar will empower the average citizen by helping everyone learn more about the laws that govern us all. As we worked to build this feature, we were struck by how readable and accessible these opinions are. Court opinions don’t just describe a decision but also present the reasons that support the decision. In doing so, they explain the intricacies of law in the context of real-life situations. And they often do it in language that is surprisingly straightforward, even for those of us outside the legal profession. In many cases, judges have gone quite a bit out of their way to make complex legal issues easy to follow. For example, in Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court justices present a fascinating and easy-to-follow debate on the legality of internment of natural born citizens based on their ancestry. And in United States v. Ramirez-Lopez, Judge Kozinski, in his dissent, illustrates the key issue of the case using an imagined good-news/bad-news dialogue between the defendant and his attorney.

The original announcement is here.  It’s a bit of an optimistic sheen, but not ridiculously so, I think.  Take advantage of it.

Idiocracy on the March: Poll Says Majority of Republicans Believe ACORN Stole Election for Obama

From TPM:

The new national poll from Public Policy Polling (D) has an astonishing number about paranoia among the GOP base: Republicans do not think President Obama actually won the 2008 election — instead, ACORN stole it.

[ . . . ]

The poll asked this question: “Do you think that Barack Obama legitimately won the Presidential election last year, or do you think that ACORN stole it for him?” The overall top-line is legitimately won 62%, ACORN stole it 26%.

Among Republicans, however, only 27% say Obama actually won the race, with 52% — an outright majority — saying that ACORN stole it, and 21% are undecided.

Just . . . yeah.

The Grand Old Pity Party

Colbert nails it:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Grand Old Pity Party

Learning From Your Subjects

Just watch:


Updated: the more sensitive among you should know that you will encounter seal-food (you know, penguins) in this video.

Nobody in America is Hungry

DougJ explains how:

It’s easy to romanticize the past, of course. But I distinctly remember that 20 years ago, things like sudden increases in the number of people going hungry were considered important issues. Nowadays to even muse about whether this is something we can do something about as a society marks you as an unserious hippie. Even as we speak, Slate/Levitt/TNR are probably writing something along the lines of “you think that having a high percentage of the population without access to food is bad, but once you get past the conventional wisdom of our hippie overlords, you’ll see that blah blah blah.” David Brooks is probably on the Snooze Hour telling E. J. Dionne that the only solution is food vouchers and, anyway, in Red America, the hungry can always visit the Applebee’s Salad Bar for free. Robert Samuelson and Fred Hiatt are cooking up some bogus figures to tell us that there is no way that we, as a society, can do anything about this. And, anyway, Michael Moore is fat, so how can anyone really be hungry?

It would be funny, except it’s not.

Maps & Memory

That’s probably a title I should have saved for another post, but I’ve already gone and used it for this great National Geographic project asking US Senators to draw maps of their states from memory. I grew up with maps on my wall – this is where we live now, this is where we used to live, this is where [relatives] live, etc. – and can draw a terribly accurate map of the US from memory, and could probably draw a pretty decent map of the world from memory, too (tho’ I’ll likely screw up pieces of Central Asia and parts of Africa’s Atlantic coast).

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