Thursday, March 31


WaPo Editorial Board, "Cheating allegations can't mask real gains in D.C.'s schools" March 30

I GUESS it's one of those things I'll always remember: "Where where you when you wondered where was Michelle Rhee when the entire house of cards that is her nascent anti-union empire crashed to the ground under the pressure of some good investigative journalism and basic diligence?" (Ans: In Indianapolis, same place where she was playing second-fiddle to the recorded voice of Mitch Daniels at an anti-union rally. Daniels could not personally attend the rally, supporting what he recently called the centerpiece of his 2008 campaign, "because he was traveling in Southern Indiana", which is a good sennight's drive from the state capital.)

(Say this for Daniels' handlers: they recognized fairly quickly that their man handles heckling about as well as Michael Richards does. As does Rhee, apparently--there's a shocker--since when she finally responded to USAToday it was to accuse them of "not believing test scores for poor children could improve without cheating".)

Somehow the Washington Post, which, of course, has been a major pom-pom shaker for Rhee, along with every other bad fucking idea in American public life for the past twenty years, got wind of the story, and responded with the editorial ("Yes, Cheating Appears To Have Occurred, But You Must Admit That Scores Went Up") excerpted and ridiculed below. (Full disclosure: The Post made $2.6 billion last year off Kaplan, Inc., the country's major peddler of test prep materials. Fuller disclosure: the Post doesn't bother to disclose that.):
ANYTIME THERE is a suggestion a school may have cheated its way to showing improved student achievement, there is reason for serious concern.

Y'know what? No. A serious concern exists when there is the potential transfer of large sums of public money or other forms of remuneration which might encourage people to cheat; see Cadillac, Legendary Welfare. What you have here in D.C. is reason for suspicion of felonious activity, which can only be described merely as "serious" by those who aren't facing incarceration themselves. Michelle Rhee is in Indianapolis right this minute helping to fuck with the livelihoods of several hundred thousand people; she's here through the grace of the serial misrepresentations of her accomplishments as a second-grade teacher and the Chancellor of D.C. schools. That is, by anyone's definition, beyond serious. Even if one believes that high-stakes testing tells us something about public education one is obliged to recognize the potential for gaming the system, and the far-reaching consequences that result. Not only was cheating going on under Rhee, there was no effort being made to watch for it.
That’s why D.C. school officials hired a high-priced outside expert to investigate what appeared to be anomalies on a number of student test sheets.

Who just happened to clear them.
It’s also why it is prudent for the system to take another look at the schools where tests were called into question.

That, and the fact that the whole program got caught with it pants down, its wiener rampant, and with a couple dozen nearby ewes wearing hipboots.
But to use the issue of erasure marks at a handful of schools to disparage the very real improvements made in recent years by D.C. schools is irresponsible.

Then call me irresponsible. (Is this the Obama Doctrine in action, by the way? We shouldn't let a few examples of the massive corruption underlining our every action dissuade us from the serious business of making headlines?)
Acting Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson on Tuesday asked the city’s inspector general to determine whether there were any improprieties at eight schools on standardized reading and math exams in 2009. Her request follows disclosures by USA Today of suspicious rates of erasures in which wrong answers were changed to right ones. The report centered on Crosby S. Noyes Education Center in Northeast Washington, credited with dramatic boosts in student achievement. There were extraordinarily high numbers of erasures for three years at the school. One Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on a 2009 reading test when the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than one.

Y'know, first, there's a difference between being a whistleblower and turning state's evidence, and part of that is in whether they're entitled to the hosannas of the crowd. Henderson calls for an investigation after a little leg work by USAToday turns up a stinking pile of cess. That's not leadership, or responsibility, its the human instinct for covering an exposed body part being worried by a pack of hounds.

Second, the fact that there are four schools with cookie crumbs all over their collective face doesn't exonerate anyone else. It condemns the whole fucking system, like it or no. Anyone who was trying to obey the rules--despite the best efforts of Miracle Michelle--should have seen the high potential for abuse and responded accordingly, and in public. Otherwise, they're no better than Dönitz.
Experts caution against any simplistic reading of erasure rates;

Just as we would caution against listening to any experts willing to mouth that sort of flummery in public. Provided we had names.
there are many innocent explanations for changed answers.

And at 13 per student--all changed from wrong to right--you're gonna need all of 'em. Repeatedly.
Indeed, it was the finding of Caveon Consulting Services, the testing security firm hired by D.C. schools, that there were plausible explanations and no evidence of misbehavior at Noyes and the other schools investigated.

Five words: Arthur Andersen, Limited Liability Partnership.
John Fremer, president of Caveon, described the investigations — which included interviews with school personnel and data analysis — as “a thorough job working with credible data.” He told us that if there were reason to believe something was amiss, the company would have advised further action. Further scrutiny will show whether the city got its money’s worth on this investigation.

Yes, it would be premature at this juncture to jump to any conclusions based on the fact that a simple erasure test caught everyone red handed.
That the schools were cleared by an outside firm seen as premier in its field

"So Good We're Insured By The American International Group, Inc.!"
or that they represent just 2 percent of the system’s total testing,

And a mere 100% of what USAToday looked at,
hasn’t stopped critics of the reforms begun by then-Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee from seizing on the situation as evidence that the improvement in D.C. schools is a myth.

Well, whaddya expect from a bunch of racists, anyway?
Other tests — including the National Assessment of Educational Progress, about which there are no questions — showed significant gains in reading and math by D.C. students between 2007 and 2009. That’s evidence of progress that can’t be erased.

There's much to admire about the NAEP, but that doesn't allow it to confer blanket integrity to every test it's lumped with in an editorial. Nor does it make it systematic. Those figures are not actually available on the NAEP site, where the fourth-grade results are listed as "not available" and the eight-grade results show improvement in line with that nationwide--an ongoing improvement among African-American students which never gets mentioned as part of our National Trail of Shameful Public School Failure, by the way--but ex-Mayor Fenty and ex-Miracle Worker Rhee did announce those results last spring. So it's gotta be true, right?

Tuesday, March 29

And May God Bless

THE Internets are now closed:
Who is going to give the Democratic response to Obama's speech?

--ifthethunderdontgetya at wonkette

It's tempting to begin a discussion of the President's speech by noting that it followed tricky diplomatic bargaining with ABC, and balanced the nation's Right to Know with its Right Not To Have Dancin' With The Stars preempted. In fact, it's tempting to end the discussion there, too.
A White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest, sent a statement by email:

“The White House routinely works with the networks, as a group, in circumstances like these to find a time that’s respectful of both the networks and their audience – while ensuring that the President has the platform he needs to deliver an important message to the American people.”

Because if you think this is some facile, bench-jockey comment that's pre-empted by the dictates of "the real world", the one where the President "was forced to make a decision," then I've got a war for you. Another one, that is. If you miss out you'll have to wait 2.5 years on average for your next opportunity. Otherwise, we don't have anything to talk about. Sending US troops into battle is now less important than a fucking television show. *

Reasons are reasons, and excuses are excuses, and what the President offered were the latter, not that that's any surprise. For all the chatter about how despicable Gaddafi is, and how funny he dresses, and the sort of threats of door-to-door violence he was making...

(Which, by the way: surely there's enough money in it for some PR firm to school these guys, isn't there? I'm not looking for a kinder, gentler, more tele-friendly Ahmadinejad, or a better-dressed Kim Jong Il; I'd just like to know why the tenth-rate international shitheels we decide to pick on routinely talk like teenaged spree killers on Facebook. Maybe they really do, maybe it's something in the translation; at any rate, it sure is convenient for everybody. And despite my relative disrespect for the ability of the US--I mean global allied coalition--to conduct and maintain a successful ground invasion outside the Carribbean, I would not personally be tempting it--them--to bomb the shit out of me. That they're fairly good at, if by "good" we mean "able to do something similar for an indefinite period".)

those are excuses; the reasons are 1) oil; 2) oil; and 3) because we can.

This is not 1950, or 1956, or 1961. All the blather about whether or not we can make a moral case for raining tons of metal from the sky on this pissant du jour is just that. We can't. Or rather, we could, but we decided to trade the moral high ground in for global economic hegemony and military-industrial complexifying sixty years ago. If you don't like the fact that there's an immediate, and powerful, counter-argument to any publicly-acknowledged bombing campaign in the name of Good, take it up with Harry Truman.

This is not a tricky moral dilemma we find ourselves in because we're a Leader, Mr. President. It's the sort of tricky moral dilemma we find ourselves in because we insist on being the sort of Leader who bombs the shit out of people so we can prove we're a Leader. Just as we sometimes find ourselves with (Democratic) Presidents who are forced to prove their leadership by standing to the right of Curtis LeMay. I know that's not an answer, exactly, but then I'm not the guy who's suggesting he has 'em. I have no idea who the Libyan rebels are. I suspect you don't know much more than I. I don't believe the fact that they opposed Gaddafi puts 'em on the side of the angels, and I don't believe that the fact that Gaddafi was able to respond with force makes them martyrs. It may just make them impatient and overly simple. I do know something of our track record in such matters.

And I know I probably shouldn't have to explain this to you, Mr. President, but then again it did happen before the Reagan administration: Nobody bombed the Alabama State Police to even up the battle for Civil Rights in this country.

Y'know, Mr. President, if bombing Libya was the right thing to do--and I'm going to leave off the question of whether that means we should be bombing Yemen, Tunisia, Syria, and Bahrain, since we all know the real answer--then it's the right thing to do without the same sorts of arguments about why we were doing the right thing in Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan (and not Budapest, or Prague, or Tiananmen). And there were good arguments for why Britain and France could've done the job themselves if they were so fucking gung ho. They may be right, or wrong, or something other than black and white, but they are, clearly, our cover story of the past six decades, and our cover was long since blown. I didn't expect you'd get though a term without starting a new war or escalating an old one. I did think that maybe, maybe, we'd hear some justification that approached thoughtful. Or at least that avoided business as usual.


* And it's been that way for thirty-five years, at least. The difference is that now we can't even pretend it's any different.

Friday, March 25

The Devil Has All The Good Tunes. But He Has To Outsource The Lyrics.

I'M NOT sure why I'm so adrift. I understand that the country at large is mazed by current events, accustomed, as it is, to the combination of "Japan" and "nuclear radiation" being automatic Big Box Office, and its periodic alarums and excursions bombing sand being preceded by a much better, and louder, trailer than the one it got this time. I'm not part of the intended audience for such things. I know, for example, that Barack Obama is, in fact, about six months late in starting his own war, given our post-WWII average. Somehow I'm not placated by this.

ITEM: It might be that I'm trying to figure out how, in 2007-2008, one could have designed the inevitable Democratic administration which would follow the worst, most venal, and least competent administration in the history of the Republic and yet manage to put the Pugs back in power within two years.

Look, you can think anything you want of the President: quiet, competent, embattled maker of tough decisions and godawful compromises, or Yet Another Corporate Democratic Centrist; you may even feel that, on a scale of Kosovo to Vietnam, enforcing yet another No Fly Zone is more Necessary Evil than Regular Evil. To me, if you profess an admiration for Ronald Reagan--however rephrased later--and you are not a) one of his legion of hagiographers, or b) too fucking young to have a clue, then you are suspect; if you profess an admiration for Ronald Reagan, gain the Presidency, and then behave as if an aura of competence is the way to recreate his legacy then I, like Donald Trump, would like to know where you grew up. Yes, indeed, Reagan had the advantage of knowing that there was little likelihood of a major conflict during his Presidency unless he himself created it, so he could sputter like Yosemite Sam on the international stage while killing off a few thousand Mexicans and US Marines to keep the faithful happy. But the point is he did it. I'm not quite sure how you manage to get this backwards, how you send in the Marines without conducting a victory parade first. Fer chrissakes, recall Ollie North, give him a helicopter, and send him in in a blaze of glory. At least you'd have Victor Davis Hanson on your side.

I'm a lefty. In American politics, to me, "bone" is a verb, not a noun. Maybe you could throw me one, Mr. President, just to see if I'd know what to do with it. Just fucking explain why we don't care about democracy in Bahrain, or Saudi Arabia, or Egypt. C'mon. We all know the answer. Just come out in public, one time, and say it. Th' fuck's it gonna matter?

ITEM: Do I have to? Is there some difference between this David Weigel piece ("Michele Bachmann for president? Among Republicans, she's more popular than you think.") and a Jonah Goldberg thunker that 5 IQ points doesn't explain? Really, the implied You here being smarty-pantsed liberal-on-social-issues Slate readers with a modicum of language competence, and the explicit Popularity being what twenty-six Iowans (likely future straw-casters, of course) told Frank Luntz when he went there on FOX News' dime. Oho! No answer for that, is there Mr. Rational?

She'll push the Republican field to the Right! which, from my perspective, anyway (full disclosure: Michelle Bachman is a fucking loon, and, furthermore, an ignorant fucking loon, and nothing whatsoever can change that) means they'd all take the stage in tinfoil hats and bandoliers while walking on Muslims. She'll fill the hole left by that is Sarah Palin! Y'ever play that game as a kid where you repeat a word or phrase until it lost all semantic meaning? Try repeating "But as that Luntz focus group showed, Bachmann is taken more seriously than Palin in some circles." and see if the reverse is possible.

Someone, please, explain to Dave Weigel just what it is that someone who's been conscious of American politics for more than his seventeen years would have to have acknowledged if the rubric "Seems popular with the idjits in Iowa" were applied across the board. And, look, I ain't kiddin': if "popular among Republican voters" were the arbiter, Martin Luther King Day would now be known as "another Monday in January".

ITEM: I couldn't figure out how to single this out yesterday; today I don't care:
To fund her cause, [Michelle] Rhee announced in December that she would create a counterbalancing interest group called StudentsFirst, modeled on the NRA, for which she is hoping to raise $1 billion.

I know I've mentioned this before, but in the perpetual Fast Food advertising war we've turned public education into (on the grounds that it's all we understand anymore) Indianapolis Public Schools was the only major metropolitan district which jumped feet first into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Small Schools Initiative. IPS completely reorganized every high school in the system over the course of a single summer to participate in a program which had, at its center, an untested and frankly absurd little homily about "small learning communities" (absurd because all the suburban schools IPS is compared unfavorably to are the size of blimp hangars). The thing lasted about two years before it was quietly done away with, but in the interim not a single dime of the Foundation's money found its way to the classroom. It went for teacher training, administrative junkets, and the costs of administering the program, which was done by a local college. Michelle Rhee wants a billion dollars, not for poor children, not for poor school districts, but for Michelle Rhee. That is the "cause" she's funding. How did we get here?

Thursday, March 24

A Modest Fucking Proposal. Or Two.

ANNE Applebaum writes an entire thunk piece on the President's masterful handling of the PR campaign against Libya (by, basically, doing nothing, Obama assured that the French and the Brits would be on hand to hold our coats! This is, after all, Slate) while completely ignoring the question of whether we should be there at all, unless I dozed off and missed it. Meanwhile, best-selling author and worst-ever Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld is offering free advice, John Boehner is demanding to know if we'll ask for Suddenly Evil Supplemental Funding of the Illegally Undeclared Not War (which, by the way, prompts the former newspaper known as The Washington Post to announce:
Unforeseen military operations that require expenditures such as those being made for the Libyan effort normally require supplemental appropriations since they are outside the core Pentagon budget. That is why funds for Afghanistan and Iraq are separate from the regular Defense Department budget.

And this is not some puppy with no inkling of anything that happened before 1998; it's Walter Fucking Pincus, Pulitizer Prize-winner Walter Fucking Pincus, who really might be expected to know that, prior to the Bush administration hiding the costs of Afghanistan and Iraq for as long as it could by extorting blank checks from a compliant Congress, those supplemental funds were expected to be paid back, the way your plumber is supposed to subsume his "Basic service fee" in the labor costs for that $600 project he winds up doing. He's not supposed to say, "Wait uhminnit. You didn't tell me I'd get shit on my hands." What exactly is the Navy for? Okay, fine, I agree, the real point of 330,000 naval personnel, a dozen aircraft carriers, 300 other warships, 3700 planes, and enough ordnance to put Japan back where it was two weeks ago is showing off. But it's like Tim Durham's car collection. Sure, it makes you swing like you've got a big dick, but if you need some bologna, and it's Armand's afternoon off, it's possible you might have to get in one and drive somewhere), all while Michelle Rhee is a respected educational reformer, Ron Paul is Presidential timber, Mitch Daniels is competent, and Donald Trump is interviewed.

As a topper, this is a headline in today's Indianapolis Star:

I'm not from the Apocalyptic wing of Protestantism, but I could swear "Woozy" and "Tweeter" are two of the Four Horsemen.

So, look, can't we all just get over this awful political divide and admit there's nothing left here worth saving? Let's go nuts. Let's all drop acid and go skinny dipping. Instead of Tomahawk missiles, let's just give Gaddafi his own teevee show. That goddam box is bristling with threats to the existence of humankind, and we ignore all of them with no problem.

Further, since we have established, beyond dispute--again--that Republicans will say absolutely anything, and that there is no national Democratic party, or at least none that has the efficacy of the Indiana state Democratic party, once thought extinct if not wholly illusory, I'm for handing the keys to Ron Paul, provided that every Federal position not specifically mentioned in the Constitution be eliminated before he can take the Oath. What could it hurt?

Tuesday, March 22

Tuesday Olio

• If you're in the market for this sort of thing, Indiana's got a Toll Road to sell you:

Mitch Daniels signs a book deal. The AP reporter asking if this maybe signals that he's running for President like he's already been doing for eighteen months hears this:
“There’s nothing I can say except ’not so'. The idea of writing a book came together well before anybody suggested to me that I was a candidate for anything. I can’t keep people from leaping to that conclusion, but they’d be wrong.”

Governor? Governor? If you'll get back on the two soapboxes it requires for you to make a meaningless public announcement, I have a couple of followups?

First: Do we really have to hear this routine every last fucking time somebody mentions The Coyness Campaign? Second: how much of you indecision is due to the fact that you began your Presidential campaign two weeks after telling Hoosiers you'd never seek another public office, and how much due to the legal maneuvers required to keep all the really big bucks rolling in to that PAC of yours?

Finally: that explanation might have worked if signing an oddly-timed book deal was all you did; coming in the midst of regular campaign weekends stretching back to January, a new right-wing-rag profile every month, and the rumors about the recalcitrance of The Lovely Cheri getting loud enough that she had to come out in public, well, no; it just raises the question of just how stupid you imagine everyone else to be. We've all heard by now you'd be the shortest President since Madison, and the only one ever to lie about his height, but we don't know if anyone's keeping a record for Most Contemptuous Candidate Since Nixon.

[Off the record, Guv: that "If anyone's built for jockeying, it's me" line was pretty good, but if you're really gonna do this you need someone on the campaign with the instincts to add, "Although now I'm probably going to hear from the PC height-police. Har har har."]

• Dear God, just shut th' fuck up:

Speaking of Daniels' scriptwriters there's David Brooks, who kills god knows how many trees to say this:
These days we are all co-religionists in the church of multilateralism. The Iraq war reminded everybody not to embark on an international effort without a broad coalition.

Yet today, as an impeccably crafted multilateral force intervenes in Libya, certain old feelings are coming back to the surface. These feelings have been buried since the 1990s, when multilateral efforts failed in Kosovo, Rwanda and Iraq. They concern the structural weaknesses that bedevil multilateral efforts. They remind us that unilateralism may be no walk in the park, but multilateralism has its own characteristic problems, which are showing up already in Libya.

For motherfucking cryin' out loud, it's already beyond despicable that the buttboys of Presidents Bush, Cheney, and Kristol, once seen Voguing for Joy (in 2001!) atop our glorious victory in Afghanistan, still have opinin' jobs. Now they get to pretend to be all thoughtful about military interventionism!

I'd like to mention this again: it's always the people who profess, if not their personal subscription to Bronze Age superstition at least their abiding respect for its omnipresent superiority to all other modes of thought, who are the first, and most blatant, tempters of a wrathful God.

• Now here's Julie Margolis with a report on the different between shitting on gold and shitting on stainless steel…

Fraudulent Republican Money Spigot Tim Durham bails out of LA lockup to head home and face securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy charges; his slow-motion white Bronco fall from grace prompts someone to give 8's Debby Knox a line musing about the depths of that fall. Or maybe she ad libbed it. At any rate, the current score:

Overpaid sounders-out of teleprompter inanities commiserating with lavish-lifestyle pig who lost the multi-million-dollar car collection he bought with other people's money: 1

Public expression of concern for the lifestyle changes forced on the 5000 people he robbed of their life savings: 0

There was a bit of fun in the event, since Durham's $1 million bail ("It should have been much higher! The old Tim Durham would have wanted it that way!") was coughed up by his ex-wife Joan SerVaas and her father, former Indianapolis City Council Kingpin, Saturday Evening Post publisher, and anti-fluoridationist crank Beurt SerVaas. It was nice to see the old gent getting some press now that the mere mention of his withered bunghole doesn't cause news hairdos to instinctively pucker.

Here's my favorite SerVaas story: his mansion is surrounded by acres of woodland. Only they're not his. It belongs to a charitable trust he established, and once a year--once a year!--for an afternoon disadvantaged children are allowed to roam free there, after which it returns to its pristine state, the way God intended, for another 364 days: free of property taxes.

Durham, by the way, is described on 8--inevitably described on 8, which has an unlimited amount of stock footage of his earlier, more piratical career since it was frequently invited to fawn over it--and did--as "embattled financier" Tim Durham. It's funny how, during that day's rundown of meth lab busts you never hear anyone referred to as an "embroiled chemist".

Monday, March 21

You Get What Other People Pay For

WHO said it?
“Given the costs of a no-fly zone, the risks that our involvement would escalate, the uncertain reception in the Arab street of any American intervention in an Arab country, the potential for civilian deaths, the unpredictability of the endgame in a civil war, the strains on our military, and other factors, I am doubtful that U.S. interests would be served by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.”

Why, it's Nixon's Favorite Mayor and Erstwhile Senatorial Surrogate Daddy to Freshman Barack "Hussein" Obama, Indiana's own Senior Statesman, Richard Green "Aren't Eagle Scouts Supposed To Tell The Truth?" Lugar, who also demanded that the President “first seek a congressional debate on a declaration of war.”

Sure, sure, that "potential for civilian deaths" is a dead giveaway. Still, the preteritio-minded among us would probably avoid mentioning that, since "Dick" Lugar assumed that Senate seat of his, shortly after the earth cooled, the United States has intervened militarily in Iran, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Libya, Bolivia, Iran, Libya, the Virgin Islands, the Philippines, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Colombia, Iraq, Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and now Libya again without Dick Lugar demanding a war declaration vote, or much of anything else in the way of debate.

Not me, though. I'd like to point out that while, yes, Dick Lugar has supported every military intervention, crypto military intervention, quasi- proxy- and private-military intervention that's come down the pike since he got his sinecure, he did manage to mutter something under his breath about Bush the Dumber's Iraq II adventure being "perhaps a skosh hasty" a couple days before he voted for it anyway, and later he fearlessly reminded someone who bothered to listen to him that he'd been overheard saying just that. That was in 2005, when the whole thing was long since revealed as a bottomless pool of cess, after which Lugar voted to fund The Surge and went back to sleep.

Sure, some may call this hypocrisy, but I find it depressingly consistent. And allow me to point out that this is the United States Senate, where rubber-stamping Defense bills and blank-check military excursions is almost as popular as golf, semi-automatic weapons, and the perineums of copy boys. Dick Lugar is one of the longest-serving Senators in United States history. If he doesn't teach the younger members how to go along, our Traditions may be lost.

Plus it's entirely possible that Lugar imagines he was in the Senate in 1941, the last time we voted on a declaration of war. Shit, sometimes I have that feeling myself.

Local "news" organizations, however, have attributed Lugar's sudden, perimortem interest in Constitutional law to the re-nomination challenge posed by Teabagging State Treasurer Richard Murdock, whose reelection campaign ads--and by the way, when your State Treasurer runs campaign ads it is either time you seriously got the money out of politics, or considered abolishing Television--touted the fact that he had managed to earn interest on Indiana's accounts. And not just that, he said this as though it had never been done before, and he had accomplished it through some arcane process he'd invented. As far as I can tell I'm the only man in Indiana who saw in this a sign of the Apocalypse.

And here's the thing: when Dick Lugar was elected to the Senate they were still making Studebakers in South Bend. If Dick Lugar polled 105% of the vote I wouldn't find it suspicious. As much as I'd love to see Lugar's final act involve sinking under the weight of the wingnut faction he's pandered to his entire Washington career--and in mid-pander, no less--it ain't gonna happen. Lugar knows it ain't gonna happen. The local pundocrats know it ain't gonna happen. Murdock knows it ain't gonna happen. It's just a good way to create a little employment, always a good idea during a Republican administration, and a chance for Lugar to show his true colors for once, which was really all that was necessary. I'm sure his old pal Barack Hussein Obama understands why he's in the subject line of every one of Lugar's press releases these days. Like the old saying goes, scratch a politician, get a good reason to go get that finger disinfected.

Thursday, March 17

At Least There's That

I'M sure I don't have to tell you that there's precious little of the usual fun to be had when the public display of transparent official bullshit is being overrun by news which devastates a nation and claims thousands of lives. We have gone from idiots announcing--simply because they wanted to--that the Japanese nuclear industry survived the earthquake without a scratch, to the sorry and familiar spectacle of statements becoming inoperative before they make it to YouTube. There are easier ways to prove what liars we're surrounded by. For that matter, it's not like there's any great need at this point.

I have to admit, however, to a certain residual satisfaction that the latest, perhaps greatest, threat is proving to be lack of water in the spent fuel pool, which the Japanese apparently did not know should just have been shoved under a desk.

Well, to return to a properly serious attitude: at least we managed to get the Ronald Reagan out of harm's way in time.

Give The Money Back, Governor

shown actual size

THE FEDS perp-walked Indiana Ponzi Schemer and Republican Money Spigot Tim Durham and two of his henchmen (sorry, alleged henchmen) yesterday, sixteen months after they raided Obsidian Financial, the Indianapolis-based center of his extensive car- yacht- and hooker-purchasing empire.

They were charged on twelve counts of conspiracy, securities and wire fraud each, in connection with the looting of Fair Financial, an Akron-based financial company Obsidian bought in 2002. 5000 investors lost more than $200 million. Well, "lost" is the conventional term. Y'see, they know where the money went. To Durham's collection of penis substitutes, among others.

And $200,000 of it went to the campaign of Indiana Governor Mitch "Pockets" Daniels. Asked last year by the bankruptcy trustee to return it, Daniels said, and I am not making this up, "That money's already been spent."

The Indiana Republican party, which received even more than that, said essentially the same thing. Daniels' mouthpiece was a bit more circumspect; he said that if the allegations proved true, and the money did turn out to've been stolen, then it might be proper to look around and see if any of it was left. Sometimes you wish attorneys did not speak English.

Other recipients of Durham's largess with other people's money include Indiana Speaker of the House and Self-Appointed Holy Man Brian Bosma, and Durham's former roomie, ex-Marion County Prosecutor Carl "Sleeze" Brizzi. None was available for comment.

And this isn't a question of violations of campaign finance law (though it should be). Nor is it a question of funds coming from a source which later proves "questionable". It's money which belonged to small investors in Ohio, who gained no benefit from influencing Indiana elections, not that they had any choice. It was their property, and they no longer have it. Say whatever you want about Durham's presumption of innocence before the Bar, there is no alternative explanation for what undeniably did happen, except "malevolent Trickster god".

And so there is no earthly reason why those criminal proceeds should not be returned to their rightful owners. It's a drop in the bucket, to be sure. But if these people don't deserve every last bit of recovery, then the whole fetid financial system deserves to be brought down on the heads of the politicians who've helped turn it into one big criminal enterprise.

Is that not what's right, Governor? Or what is right? Is there such a thing as ethics, or not? You've been required lately by the dictates of that Presidential campaign you're not running to try to emphasize your own Christianity (and Randian apostasy) when necessary. What's the Bible say about theft? What'd Jesus have to say about sticking to the minutiae of the law, and ignoring what is right? Tim Durham was living cartoon-large on other people's money. He gave some of that money to you. I'm sure I don't have to explain to a Big Entrepreneurial Brain such as yours that money is fungible (which is why, besides the fact that your lips were moving, that we knew you were lying when you pulled that "it's already been spent" routine). $200 grand. What was that, two days' ad purchases during your interminable 2008 telemarketing campaign? Give the money back. And apologize for not ordering your minions to do so sooner. Put this financial Ponzi scheme behind you, so you can get on with the intellectual Ponzi scheme of your Presidency.

Monday, March 14

Monday Olio

• In the mid to late 80s I had a friend, now deceased, who was some sort of engineer (he had long since retired; if I ever knew what sort I don't know now, but it wasn't "railroad") who had, as a young man, worked on the Fermi chain reaction project at the University of Chicago.

It being the 80s, a frequent topic of our conversations was the (literally) dissolving Marble Hill Nuclear Plant which I, as a young man, had worked to stop. Shortly before we met the project had been halted; throughout our acquaintance it hung in the artificially-created limbo all such expensive mistakes--the Edsel, the Palace of the Soviets, the Bush administration--inhabit at first, while the people responsible search for some respectable cover. The fact angered him, and he blamed trendy and unlettered Fear of Nuclear Power.

(Let's note, here, that while pure opposition to nuclear power was part of the general opposition to the plan in the 70s, it was supported by concerns over the environmental impact, by the utility's inflated public pronouncements of the need, and by a serious, and obvious, tap-dance around the cost that rivaled most of Bill Westmoreland's assurances about how that Vietnam thing was working out. In the end it was cost-overruns (from, roughly, $1 billion to $7) and the discovery of substandard concrete work (!), not witless tree-hugging, which halted the thing.)

You'd'a thought the concrete business would have given him pause; else you'd'a thought my habit of asking every time he brought it up whether all the nuclear waste from the reactor could be stored under a desk (it's another Reagan howler, for you kids out there) might've eventually caused him to give up, but it remained, for him, what the Kennedy assassination or the Designated Hitter is for a different species of aficionado.

I grew a little tired of being accused of nuclear Henny Pennyism even after I explained howevermanytimes that I agreed that nuclear power was safe, and that the problem was, rather, how exponentially unsafe it became, relative to almost all other human endeavors, if there was an accident. He'd reply in roentgens, with a side order of The Lousy Commies Cut Corners, Which We Would Never Ever Do. (By the way, science illiterate that I am, I've always enjoyed the "You get more radiation at the dentist's" rejoinder, as though proper dental care obligated you to be dosed at unspecified intervals with the same or lower levels at the whim of anyone with a billion dollars of someone else's money in his pocket.) And one day I suggested a compromise: build all the nuclear reactors you want, but everyone involved in the project has to live within a half-mile radius of the place. And can't run in the case of a leak.

This ain't one of those cabbie stories, with an O. Henry ending. The argument didn't faze him. But it's still mine. And I wish he were still around to explain what's really going on in Japan.

•Who: AARP

What: 15,473rd unsolicited mailing to me since I turned 45, none of which I've answered

Contents: six page come-on plus not one but two plastic pre-membership cards, pre-embossed with my name

Legend on envelope: "Please Recycle"

• I had a long discussion with Brendan over the weekend (which is to say that he wrote me a couple lines and I sent back a novel) about David Weigel, erstwhile linker to this decrepit piece of blogostate, in which he argued, with a perceptiveness and an economy I can only gawk at, that Weigel resembled the late Dean Broder, in that he was "forever excusing the whack-job stuff that comes from Republicans and forever deploring 'the left' for everything" while maintaining an air of Let's Split the Difference and Do It My (Centrist) Way. (Which, I believe he'll agree, does raise the question of how Weigel got to Slate so late.) That was in reply to my own contention that he, and others, occupy the George Eff Will Media Sinecure, after the insertion of Ronald Reagan's debate coach into This Week to balance the liberal triumvirate of David Brinkley, Sam Donaldson, and Mrs. Steve Roberts. Nothing comparable has ever happened with the Left, through the Reagan, two Bush, and two centrist Democrat administrations, unless you count Alan Colmes. In thirty years now we periodically get "balancing" "conservatives" thrust up the national anus (David Brooks, Tucker Carlson, Bens Stein and Domenech), with no further justification, as though Sam Donaldson was so fucking liberal that he still reverberates, like the Big Bang. And I think the latest generation is rewarded just for making the same motions. I mean, Weigel was born in 1981. I'd like to know when he's even seen a Leftist, outside of one of our more progressive Social Studies textbooks; I'd like to know when he thinks one has ever made, or influenced, a piece of legislation enacted since he started tying his own shoe. I don't have any difficulty with the things Weigel writes. I have a difficulty with the concept of David Weigel, with his, and Mitch Daniels', apparent insistence that one can remain a Republican after experiencing the Reagan and/or Bush II years, and maintain that the rabid elements of the party are just there to make noise and vote. Either we're mired in all that crazy shit, or we ain't.

• Look, I'm tempted to reply to this groundswell of Book support with "Three words: America's Most Wanted". Instead, okay, so I'm a bit intrigued. There's this:

1) I am the most indolent and ill-tempered of men. Those are my good points.

2) As I've said before, I am an Inuit carver without the talent. Most mornings I stare at a blank TextEdit page, then chip away everything that doesn't resemble one of the voices in my head. Then I break camp and forget it.

3) Similarly, I started blogging as a lark. Now it's mostly an excuse not to masturbate so much.

4) Kordo, you, and/or a million internet monkeys can comb the nits from this site and whack me over the head with the jar you put 'em in. I promise to notice. Seriously. Just don't go overboard, and remembering who you're doing it for, do so only to avoid doing something you should be doing and don't wanna.

5) I do read comments. Really. I'm just frequently a couple days late. It's all the carving.

Friday, March 11

Forget It, Jake. It's Slate.

KEVIN, in comments yesterday:
I don't know, I really don't see much problem with Weigel's piece here. I mean, did you expect him to be super-duper insightful or point out every flaw? If you want that, go to someone who actually *does* that. Weigel simply covers the conservative movement, and fairly well and with a bit of snark. I actually enjoy most of his work and it's nice to look into how the other side works. It could be a hell of a lot worse. He's not exactly Fox News material. I don't ever remember him being dishonest or even remotely evasive. I'm just not sure what the point of this was. That Weigel isn't perfect? I dunno, I usually enjoy your work, but I found this kind of pointless.

First, lemme just mention what every experienced woodsman knows: it takes a little experience, a little time, and a small amount of effort to put a keen edge on an axe. Dulling one, on the other hand, is hard fucking work.

Anyway, I'm from Indiana. My senior Senator--he was also my grandfather's senior Senator; we like our traditions--is a guy who made his bones as "Nixon's Favorite Mayor" (of Indianapolis), where he spearheaded Republican bills, state and local, which extended the city limits out to the county line, expressly for the purpose of diluting the growing African-American vote. (This is still working. I live in the Congressional district which serves the old city; my Representative is not only an African-American, he's a Muslim. The mayor and City-County council, on the other hand, are Republicans.)

Since he's been in the Senate he's voted with the increasingly radical Right (increasing, with Nixon as a starting point!) 80 some percent of the time. Never voted against a Defense appropriation (in other words, he's a Senator). This, of course, makes him a moderate, and a distinguished voice for nuclear disarmament.

Then there's my Governor, of whom you may have heard me speak at. As Bush the Dumber's first OMB Director he inherited a Federal budget which had shown a surplus for several years, and turned it into what we have today. He then came to Indiana, put on a plaid shirt and a seed cap, and was elected Governor. He announced that the state's budget shortfall was a Huge Big-Spendin' Democrat Evil, when, in fact, to the extent it existed (on paper) it was mostly due to the high unemployment ushered in and carefully husbanded by his previous employer. That shortfall has been variously estimated, depending on how heroic he needed to sound in overcoming it, but the general "consensus" is half a billion dollars. Keep that figure in mind. Using techniques he had apparently, and unfortunately, learned after helping destroy the national economy, he single-handedly slashed our way to solvency, such that today, despite the devastating effects of the Robber Baron Recession, Indiana is one of the few states in the nation, and the only one in the upper Midwest, whose budget is in the Black. Assuming, that is, that you ignore the $2 billion it owes the Federal government in loans, interest, and penalties. Combine that with the $1 billion in Stimulus money he reluctantly accepted, and the perpetually disgruntled might note that in six years he's run a deficit of a half-billion per year. He, of course, is known as "a competent fiscal manager".

We can go on, but don't get me started on Mitch Daniels, Tax Cutter, or Mitch Daniels, Champion of Property Tax Relief. My point is simply this: I'd pretty much had my fill of happy-face Republican liars before David Weigel was born, and every day I get to take another bite.

Better Blogs Than This One routinely take on, and demolish, the moronic Right. I can't compete with Roy, or Scott C. and s.z., or the Sadlys, to name three, and why would I? I barely have the stomach to read the excerpts. And besides, I really do feel that the weaselly enablers of everyone from Dick Nixon to the Competent Republican Managers and Beyond are a special class of Evil unto themselves. It doesn't matter to me that, given the power, David Brooks or David Frum would permit gay marriage. What matters to me is that they manage to come up with reasons to apologize for the party that makes banning gay marriage a battle cry. What matters to me is that, given the power, they'd install Zombie Ronald Reagan as Emperor for Life. What matters is that they continue to voice support for Defense Spending that's beyond Insanity, and the insertion of the US military into every region that looks at us crosswise, no matter the cost in other people's lives, and call it Self-Defense; they continue to champion the accelerated accumulation of this nation's vast wealth in the hands of very few, and call it Economic Freedom.

And it would work. And Centrist Democrats, and Ezra Klein, would still get to point to them--though not as much as they point to themselves--and say, See, not all Republicans are like that!

This isn't the beginning of the Reagan "Revolution". It's 2010, or 2011, or something. It's not even the goddam aftermath of the Reagan "Revolution", when you could at least understand someone lying to protect the legacy. Anybody defending this crap today has to poke his head out from under a foot of ash to do so. I don't give a shit if they're snarky, or cutesy, or seem like they'd make nice neighbors. They're blind, and they're fucking willfully blind, and unless it's a congenital defect, they're that way for money.

Y'know, it's easy to be a snarky libertarian. It's not just tennis with the net down, it's no lines on the court, and if your opponent still manages to hit one past you you get to pretend he didn't, or he's just an old hippie, so it doesn't count. The real trick is to be a smart one. I'll let you know if I see any.

In the meantime, how fucking difficult is it to be a Republican while criticizing Sarah Palin? I guess it depends: if you're Mitch Daniels it must be really tough, because he's yet to do so; he did risk his combover long enough to suggest he might delay the culture wars a few months, after which he immediately reiterated his support for the culture wars. If you're David Brooks, or David Frum, or David Weigel, so what? All you've done is enhance your reputation with Centrists, who for some reason are easily impressed with a Republican who says something that doesn't sound like the party line, and you know the Yahoos are still going to vote for your tax cuts. I know that Weigel piece wasn't an in-depth analysis. What it was was the umpteenth fucking time I opened that Slate blog thing of his and found a sorry-assed excuse for why the really execrable element of his own party isn't really as bad as all that. And the simple response is, Yes, yes it fucking is. Forgive me, but I simply do not believe that you can look at that shit with one eye open and find any reason to say, "Y'know, maybe Newt helped himself with that really astute performance if you look at it right". Because the only angle from which it looks that way is the angle you take if you don't want any real questions to be asked about your party affiliation. It's entirely nonsensical. The ability to pretend to supplicate yourself and gain the approval of everybody else who's in on the scam is about 1800 years old now, not something Newt jes' thunk up. No adult can possibly believe that what Newt Gingrich did there was to bravely confront a problem! just as no one could actually believe that Andrew Ferguson and David Brody are busy getting us the real story by pretending to pitch softballs. The average, normal person with no agenda doesn't buy Jimmy Swaggert's tears. He knows that the whole thing's for show, and that it's only for show because the story was found out in the first place. This is as apodictically certain as anything in life. We know these things. The average person knows this. Newt would be convicted 9 times out of 10 on that testimony, and the exception would mean the jury had a delusional die-hard who couldn't be budged. How much more so does a professional journalist understand this? And yet, how often does one play it the other way?

Thursday, March 10

Why Is There A David Weigel? Part IX

David Weigel, "Newt Gingrich Loves America and Leads With His Chin". March 10

OKAY, so, evidently the whole Librul Media/Fairness for "Conservative" Viewpoints routine of the last forty years comes down to the requirement, not that the mass market media treat the Right with fairness, respect, or equality, but slack and slack-jawed credulity:
Count me among the very, very few people -- like, the we-can-fit-in-the-same-Volvo number of people -- who doesn't find this Newt Gingrich answer to David Brody totally risible.

Surely you exaggerate, Mr. Weigel. I mean, I think even the smallest Volvo seats four.

To understand this, you need to understand Kenyan anti-colonial thinking what John Dickerson pointed out on Monday. Gingrich is embracing his biggest problem with both hands. He said this in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network; he knew both his immediate audience and his potential audience. (David Brody and the Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson, because they don't actually try to nail their subjects, always get the most/damaging revealing quotes from 2012ers.)

Rrrrright. First, love the Kenyan anti-colonial thinking gag, as though that reduces the Republicans' massive crackpot problem to a cocktail-party bon mot. It's a great technique, all right; look how it eliminated all the evidence of racism racists in the party. Now, then: the gentlemen of The Christian Broadcasting Network and The National Review refrain from asking tough questions during their hagiographies because that gets their subjects to reveal really telling details? As when Newt Gingrich explains serial adultery and terminal spouse abuse by blaming it on his work load. Or when Mitch Daniels, who polls just slightly higher than Louis Farrakhan with Republican religious voters, says he'll deemphasize the culture war if he's elected President, right up to the time when he has to name an Attorney General. Where would our current national debate be without these remarkable revelations? For one thing, our pundits would have to waste time reading more than headlines at Politico.
But he's not credible-sounding when he gets all gooey about religion.

Jesus, that's like saying, "You know, the AMC Pacer is not a really attractive car viewed from the front." It's a helluva lot quicker to just name the times when Newt is "credible-sounding". Though it may take you like forever to find one.
So he talked about his divorces (blandly, without the ugly details) in the context that ambitious Christians can understand. He used to prioritize his work over his relationship with family and God, and now he doesn't.*

[Footnote in original] See, in what used to pass for common sense, that was called "avoiding the question", not "unintentionally revealing yourself". I'm not sure how anyone other than a Republican shill can see it otherwise, and I'm not sure how they can claim to do so without trying to cut their throats while shaving tomorrow morning.
I guess you could argue that the "Newt Sez He Cheated Because He Loves America" soundbite will haunt him anyway

Yeah, I guess you could. Seems so unfair, though.
but really, has coverage of Gingrich up to this point come with the assumption that he can actually be elected president?

So let the shit fly, Newt! Someone's bound to mistake it for bouquets.
* I'm not saying this was pure brilliance!

You're a hard-nosed realist, then?
At least part of Gingrich's problem right now is that he's spent the last decade on the softball circuit at Fox News, and he and other potential 2012ers who've been catering to conservative media are struggling a bit as they realize that Media Matters can hear that stuff, too.

For mother-fucking cryin' out loud, the Right's been talking to itself, and only itself, for the past forty years at least. I don't recall Newt Gingrich speaking to me, or answering tough questions posed by The Left, or actually doing much besides talking to himself, before or since FOX News. There was that Contract With America deal, but I think if you're attuned to more than your own opinion you don't offer up contracts with 80% of the items dead on arrival. There was his leadership in the Jim Wright thing, followed by the equally surprising Newt Gingrich Did The Exact Same Thing But Refused To Resign thing, which didn't seem to acknowledge my viewpoint either time. There was the Bring Back Federal Orphanages plan; I don't recall that getting a lot of bipartisan support. There was the fact that he could be considered a "Futurist" in Republican circles because he knew what a laptop was. I suppose that at some point in my advancing years I may fall off a ladder, hit my head, and turn to him to learn what would have happened if that collection of deported criminals and microcephalics he calls his Heritage actually won the Civil War, but for now "more slavery" is sufficient for my purposes.

And there's his twenty-year silence on the yawning discrepancy between Republican "Christian" "Morality" and the fact that his own personal behavior could make a tom cat blanch. And now he breaks it, just as his wholly fucking delusional Presidential Campaign Contribution Drive gets underway, by serving a big steaming pile of shits n' grits to an easily satisfied audience. Be honest now, Mr. Weigel. Did you ever imagine a Volvo could be so roomy?

Tuesday, March 8

This Is What He Took A Month Off To Ponder? And, Yes, I Have Had This Headline Ready For Four Weeks.

Ross Douthat, "Why Monogamy Matters". March 6ish

OVER the weekend local Channel 8 news featured not one but two "controversial" billboard stories. Yes, "controversial" billboard stories. The first involves a picture of a man and woman in bed (the "controversy"), facing opposite directions, and directs the terminally credulous passer-by to a website about vapid sex lives. It turns out, no surprise to anyone familiar with American culture, or advertising (but I repeat myself!), to be a species of ruse ultimately directing one to some mega-"non-denominational" church where the pastor will be offering a series of lectures, not wholesale vibrator attachments. Channel 8 interviewed the pastor.

The second was one which says something to the effect that You Don't Need God to be a Moral Person.

Channel 8 interviewed a guy from a local seminary.

And listen: I'm sorry. Writing about Ross Douthat writing about sex is like singing about Celine Dion's mastery of nuance. Don't shoot the messenger.

In fact, preteritio alert, let's not even talk about Douthat's problem with sex, and concentrate on his problem with constructing an argument.

I did not attend Catholic school. Neither did Ross Douthat. Nor did the vast majority of Americans, a statistic the incontinent-statistic-spouter seems to've missed. Instead I went to Protestant services every Sunday, where the main theme was What Did We Do In The Reformation? Catholics, so the story I got went, anyway, believed in Transubstantiation, the requirement of an Officially Licensed Intercessor between the little guy and God, a sort of roving ambassadorship for Mary, Canonization, filigree, and had a rather unseemly relationship with graven images. Plus they thought their top exec never made mistakes. We, on the other hand, did not. I don't recall anyone ever explaining they had a Big Problem with touching yourself, and the whole Contraception thing I got from headlines, not a theological discussion. I grant you, having people defined by their enemies is not always the best way to understand them. But I'd still like to know what, if anything, changed such that sex became the foundation of man's relationship to God, and when it did. And how we found out what She's into.

Honestly, now; I don't think it can be emphasized enough that an entire culture went nuts just because someone invented an oral contraceptive. In the middle of the 20th century. This was but a couple decades after the worst global slaughter of human beings in history, one which, leave us be fair about it, the Church was not exactly unequivocally on the winning side. But somehow the fact that other people could now avail themselves of an effective contraceptive without Big Moment fumbling, now that was a theological conundrum.

Look: if you think sex is "icky", I won't throw stones; I myself have much the same reaction to commerce. It's not visceral, in my case, or all-consuming, but it can be emotional, and like you and sex, the damned stuff is all around me, too, like bukkake, but flaccid. Thing is, though, that all you've got by way of argument is Disease, Pregnancy, and Eternal Damnation. And this is a perpetual runner-up to The Most Goddam Fun You Can Have While Alive. Honestly, it's like me running around lecturing mall rats about mindless consumerism. What ever happened to just holing up in the church basement, sneering at the vile and disgusting things everybody else does? You know, tradition?
Social conservatives can seem like the perennial pessimists of American politics — more comfortable with resignation than with hope, perpetually touting evidence of family breakdown, social disintegration and civilizational decline.

Were you even listening to me? No, Pessimism is not your problem. An apodictic certainty in your every last thought is your problem. The Pessimism thing is just schtick, and everybody but you knows that everybody knows it.
But even doomsayers get the occasional dose of good news. And so it was last week, when a study from the Centers for Disease Control revealed that American teens and 20-somethings are waiting longer to have sex.

Same story, Ross; when you tout every last item that can be twisted to your favor, everyone else catches on to what you're doing.

By the way, maybe now is the time to note that teens and 20-somethings are the group most likely to Fuck with Pollsters, though you can do that and still technically keep your virginity.
In 2002, the study reported, 22 percent of Americans aged 15 to 24 were still virgins. By 2008, that number was up to 28 percent. Other research suggests that this trend may date back decades, and that young Americans have been growing more sexually conservative since the late 1980s.

Sadly, one year too late to've stopped your parents. [/rimshot] Who's buying all the porn?
Why is this good news? Not, it should be emphasized, because it suggests the dawn of some sort of traditionalist utopia, where the only sex is married sex.

Right. It's because it buoys your dream of a society where other people don't have sex.
No such society has ever existed, or ever could: not in 1950s America (where, as the feminist writer Dana Goldstein noted last week, the vast majority of men and women had sex before they married), and not even in Mormon Utah (where Brigham Young University recently suspended a star basketball player for sleeping with his girlfriend).

What, no Charlie Sheen?
But there are different kinds of premarital sex. There’s sex that’s actually pre-marital, in the sense that it involves monogamous couples on a path that might lead to matrimony one day. Then there’s sex that’s casual and promiscuous, or just premature and ill considered.

And here is precisely what you need to understand, assuming you're someone who thinks Ross Douthat speaks to Important Social Concerns: just wait 'em out. Sooner or later he'll be willing to bargain, if you agree to be counted on his side. It's okay so long as you're really in love! It's still the Sanctity of Marriage!
This distinction is crucial to understanding what’s changed in American life since the sexual revolution. Yes, in 1950 as in 2011, most people didn’t go virgins to their marriage beds. But earlier generations of Americans waited longer to have sex, took fewer sexual partners across their lifetimes, and were more likely to see sleeping together as a way station on the road to wedlock.

I'm still keepin' that chair at the poker table open for you, Ross-o.

Jesus, you should pardon the expression, Christ. Who says "The Sexual Revolution" anymore unless they're reviewing Mad Men DVDs? Ross Douthat was born in 1979, into a family of upscale snake handlers. Hugh Hefner had probably quit talking about The Sexual Revolution by then. My guess is that we were into the 2000 elections before Ross ever heard the word Sex not followed immediately by "Causes AIDS".

Just how stupid is this? We have now spent half a column--in the New York Fucking Times--for Ross Douthat to relive an era he knows nothing about, demolishing, along the way, the very foundation of the argument he trumpets. People had sex in the Fifties, often without concern for the social convention of marriage! Therefore, the utter bullshit idealized version of the Fifties as a time when people didn't have sex without concern for the social convention of marriage is making a comeback!

They teach this at Harvard?
And they may have been happier for it. That’s the conclusion suggested by two sociologists, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, in their recent book, “Premarital Sex in America.” Their research, which looks at sexual behavior among contemporary young adults, finds a significant correlation between sexual restraint and emotional well-being, between monogamy and happiness — and between promiscuity and depression.

Look, Ross, you're not writing a how-to column, thank God, and neither am I. But speaking anecdotally, if you are considering having sex with someone, even (shudder) a contemporary young adult, premarital, post-marital, premature (no doubt), or just sport fucking, and you are faced with a choice, go for the promiscuous and depressed. Every time. You'll thank me later.
This correlation is much stronger for women than for men. Female emotional well-being seems to be tightly bound to sexual stability — which may help explain why overall female happiness has actually drifted downward since the sexual revolution.

Oh, and not to mention "since the wholesale no-choice entry into the business world largely occasioned by the Republican war on the middle and lower classes." I mean, literally, not to mention.
Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.

And lemme just note here, Ross, not that it would make any difference, but if you haven't already figured it out by Psych 101 that's the point where you're supposed to learn about causal relationships. I don't mean to give this credence, mind you, but let's just note here that we are still discussing The Socially Approved Social Model vs. Every Alternative, which, apparently, includes Women Who Desperately Wanted To Enjoy The Socially Approved Social Model, but wound up divorced, abused, or abandoned. In a traditional, marital, monogamous relationship there is one measure of success--continuing to stay married--and presumably those so inclined generally report it that way. For everyone else there are multiple, myriad ways to fail. Big fucking deal.
When social conservatives talk about restoring the link between sex, monogamy and marriage, they often have these kinds of realities in mind.

Those who have any sort of "reality" at all in mind, you mean.
The point isn’t that we should aspire to some Arcadia of perfect chastity.

Okay, then. I guess we're done here.
Rather, it’s that a high sexual ideal can shape how quickly and casually people pair off, even when they aren’t living up to its exacting demands. The ultimate goal is a sexual culture that makes it easier for young people to achieve romantic happiness — by encouraging them to wait a little longer, choose more carefully and judge their sex lives against a strong moral standard.

And so, in the end, it doesn't actually matter what you do, so much as it matters why you tell pollsters you do it. It's the love affair between Bronze Age moralism and pop sociology. And that's a marriage built to last.

Saturday, March 5

Down The Republican Glory Hole

SINCE it's possible you have seen, or may see, the name of Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White on one of those Political Police blotter things, I thought I might supply a little detail.

White, who's been in office for all of two months, was indicted Thursday on seven felony counts, including three counts of voter fraud and one each of theft and financial fraud. White has proclaimed his innocence, and is presently resisting calls for his resignation from, among others, Indiana's anti-corruption crusading Governor Mitch "Short Time" Daniels.

Things tend to get blown out of proportion some times, so here's the underlying charge. In 2010 White, the longtime Party chairman for Hamilton county (that's Republican party; if you live around here you know there isn't a Hamilton county Democratic party) voted in the primaries, an act which was later discovered--as he was conducting his race for Secretary of State, the state's top election official--to have been, let's say, not exactly right. On accounta White voted from the address he had shared with his wife, but he'd moved out, and out of the district, some time earlier. Without re-registering. Or mentioning it to anyone. Or resigning from the Fishers Town Board he was no longer eligible to serve on.

White contends that this was a simple oversight, brought on by the pressing business of an impending divorce, remarriage, and a run for public office. Memory lapse also caused him to apply for a loan using an address where he didn't reside, and to continue cashing those checks from the Town of Fishers.

Like all men White is entitled to his day in court, and a presumption of innocence, unless Republicans decide otherwise. The first half of this was the argument of one Mitch Daniels, and the rest of the state party, back when Democrats raised the issue during the campaign. Although White has never disputed the facts in the case, back then they were "allegations", compared to now, when they are legal allegations. Completely different. White should not have been forced to drop out of the campaign he'd already been slated for--not for mere allegations!--as this would have penalized other Republicans as well. Now that he's in office the punishment would be his alone. As is only fair.

I just wanted to make people aware of both sides in the case, so that no one jumps to any conclusions. White may be guilty, or innocent. But through it all the Daniels administration remains the incorruptible defender of the Law, right up to the very Edge of Convenience.

Friday, March 4

Rah Rah Rah

I'M busy shoveling shit, literally for a change, but mention should be made of yesterday's comments concerning high school athletics, especially as it gives me the chance to use something that pissed me off at the time, but I passed on as too parochial even for this blog. And, yes, I realize that's like Mike Huckabee keeping his mouth shut for fear of sounding too small-minded.

If you'd like to raise howls of protest in suburban public school districts--okay, one way among thousands--just opine in public that extramural athletics are a poor use of taxpayer dollars. You needn't bother suggesting they therefore be cut, or rated as a low priority, or even be placed on a list to be considered; just saying you don't think they should come before academics would be sufficient.

Meanwhile, if you'd prefer the sound of crickets chirping in those same suburban districts, just become superintendent of (60% African-American, 30% below poverty line) Indianapolis Public Schools in, oh, let's say 2008, and slash athletic programs because of budget restraints. Well, maybe not crickets; a few snow-pure individuals will probably share their opinion that kids in failing schools have better things to do, anyway.

At any rate, aside from some disgruntled IPS parents the whole thing went over without a peep. It got a little more attention when the actual superintendent, Eugene "Cufflinks" White--a man who got to college in the Jim Crow South because he could hoop--tried to create an Athletic Magnet school so talented athletes could attend a school that still had a program, the same way artists and musicians can still find one. However this, as, apparently, everyone but Eugene "Cufflinks" White realized, violated Indiana High School Athletics Association eligibility rules unless he declared the thing a religious school at the same time. I actually applaud the attempt, but it betrayed the same close attention to contractual detail Cufflinks has displayed in his decade of interaction with the teachers' union, state education law, and probably the Laws of Supply and Demand, Diminishing Return, and Finder's Keepers. At any rate, if you are a good, even a great quarterback, say, and an A+ student, but you happen to attend a school which has no football team, you are Shit Out of Luck. This according to the same IHSAA which destroyed the great Indiana state basketball tournament (see Hoosiers) by instituting class basketball so more small schools could get trophies, too. One could argue that the old white guys who make the rules are merely making sure that poor urban kids understand them, and aren't confused by the fact that if they'd been born in a flood plain, and got flooded, it would be a natural disaster, but if they were born in a ghetto it's their own goddam fault. Although, somehow, I suspect they already know.

Oh, hey, we're still rolling. This went by almost unnoticed by the local news, and certainly without anyone raising the fairness issue. But a couple months ago an IPS school's wrestling team missed a meet because the bus didn't show, and evidently not for the first time. This they're all over. For one thing the Assistant Coach twitterated or Facetimed his complaints, and the locals love the opportunity to show they're down with the latest technology. How could such a thing have happened? they demanded to know, in solidarity with some of the few remaining IPS students who didn't have their athletics program yanked out from under them while the teleprompters remained silent. Outrage!

And in case you're not ahead of me at this point, guess what: you have to schedule those things in advance (usually handled by the athletic director) and someone at the school had dropped the ball. IPS tried to rush a bus there once the mistake was realized, but it arrived too late. So it, essentially, was guilty of Having a Policy; the coach was guilty of letting a mistake happen for at least the second time without taking any preventative actions, then public blaming the people who weren't responsible for the problem, and the talking hairdos broadcast what was, and what they should have at least been suspected of being, essentially some guy complaining that someone else used the last sheet of copier paper without refilling it. YouTube at Eleven.

Thursday, March 3

The Banality Of Banality

David Brooks, "The New Normal". February 28
We’re going to be doing a lot of deficit cutting over the next several years.

Who's this We, Kimo Sabe?
The country’s future greatness will be shaped by whether we cut wisely or stupidly.

And by whether we keep listening to the Official Spokesmen for Once and Future Greatness.
So we should probably come up with a few sensible principles to guide us as we cut.

Gee, Dave, you happen to know anyone who has some?
The first one, as I tried to argue last week, is: Make Everybody Hurt. The sacrifice should be spread widely and fairly.

Which is it going to be: Universal, or Fair? Can't be both. Fair is "The top 2%, who gobble up 3/4 of the pie, and who've had their taxes slashed relative to the general population for thirty years now, resulting in the current deficit, but not in that rising tide that was supposed to float everyone's boat, pay for what they've caused, with an assist from all the folks who insist we keep a five-ocean Navy, ground forces sufficient to invade every two-bit dictator we didn't install, and half of those we did, plus sufficient nuclear stockpiles and the underperforming supra-techno bombers to take 'em anywhere our sabers point". Widely, on the other hand, is what you want.
A second austerity principle is this: Trim from the old to invest in the young. We should adjust pension promises and reduce the amount of money spent on health care during the last months of life so we can preserve programs for those who are growing and learning the most.

Republican Death Panels.® The Ones That Make Good Economic Sense.™

(Funny, too, how dependent we become on public education when it's time to use it as an excuse to screw everybody else.)
So far, this principle is being trampled.

So far, you haven't expressed one. Just an excuse to do exponentially more of what you've wanted to do, and tried to do, in good economic times and bad, since that day you touched the hem of Milton Friedman's garment. While preserving income inequality, of course.
Seniors vote. Taxpayers revolt. Public employees occupy capitol buildings to protect their bargaining power for future benefits negotiations. As a result, seniors are being protected while children are getting pummeled.

Says, once again, the party which insists that Money is Speech. And that Money is the perfect arbiter.
If you look across the country, you see education financing getting sliced — often in the most thoughtless and destructive ways. The future has no union.

Teachers do. And it's doing them about as much good as it's doing the future.
In Washington, the Republicans who designed the cuts for this fiscal year seemed to have done no serious policy evaluation. They excused the elderly and directed cuts at anything else they could easily reach. Under their budget, financing for early-childhood programs would fall off a cliff. Tens of thousands of kids, maybe hundreds of thousands, would have their slots eliminated midyear.

Says, once again, the party which has been fighting such programs for forty-five years.
Out in the states, the situation is scarcely better. Many governors of both parties are diverting money from schools in thoughtless and self-destructive ways. Hawaii decided to cut the number of days in the school year. Of all the ways to cut education, why on earth would you reduce student time in the classroom?

Says, once again, the man who urged Mitch Daniels to run for President because he's been so "successful" at Procrustean Budget "Balancing".

As for Hawaii, since you bring it up, there's a couple of interesting points we might make. First, that it's always been an article of faith in the Republican war on public education that schools could do more with less. Is there some reason that shouldn't include "less hours" like it does "less money"? Second, doesn't Hawaii setting its own standards fit right in with the whole anti-regulation/nullification thing? You guys used to want to eliminate the Department of Education; now you want its standards, not local standards enforced? And Hawaii's students are improving, according to their version of High Stakes Testing. Isn't that the one and only criterion?
Texas is taking the meat cleaver approach.

So's Mitch Daniels. I guess a lot depends on whose meat is being cleaved.
Which leads to the third austerity principle: Never cut without an evaluation process. Before legislators and governors chop a section of the budget, they should make a list of all the relevant programs. They should grade each option and then start paying for them from the top down.

Oh, sorry, I guess I didn't realize this was a comedy editorial.

Here's an idea. In fact, you can call it a principle if you like: if you don't want simple-minded, politically expedient, penny-wise and pound-foolish legislation, maybe you should stop championing simple-minded, politically expedient, penny-wise and pound-foolish candidates every goddam election.
In education, many administrators are quick to cut athletics, band, cheerleading, art and music because they have the vague impression that those are luxuries. In fact, they are exactly the programs that keep kids in school and build character.

Look, my Poor Wife's an art teacher, so we're way ahead of you on the value of the non-core curriculum. But eat what your dawg treed, or quit huntin'. You're the ones who want to judge public education on student performance on academic tests (essentially math, science, and language, meaning, of course, English), and to tie teacher salaries, even teacher employment, to those scores. Then you want to complain that administrators slash their Republican-reduced budgets by cutting everything else, after we've spent forty years turning education administrators into the handmaidens of crackpottery (and reality teevee stars)? I guess that's the attraction of libertarianism: the farther you go, the easier it gets.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a superb speech in November called the New Normal. He observed that this era of austerity should be an occasion to increase productivity and cut the things that are ineffective. Duncan is a fountain of ideas to make more with less.

Well, that ought to be reflected in his salary, then.
For example, he says, if we have to increase class sizes, we should put more kids in with the best teachers and then we should pay those teachers more to compensate for the extra load. Most of us parents would rather see our kids in a class of 30 with a great teacher than a class of 25 with an average one.

Sure, because 30 sets of parents will always absolutely agree on who qualifies as a Great Teacher.

Jesus, this is American educational policy over the past fifty years in the proverbially appropriate nutshell. There's the notion that Doing Whatever Fucking Jumps Into Our Heads Is Bound To Accomplish Something, Assuming We Can Make It Sound Like It Will, and Assuming We're Doing It To Public Schools. As well as Flying In The Face Of The Goddam Sense God Gives Most Three Year Olds. Here's an appropriately golden-hued fountain of innovation: let's have Arne Duncan try to teach five classes of thirty high schoolers each. For one week. After which he can resign to become the Secretary of the White Guy Basketball League.

Thin the talent pool! Great idea. I guess you're going to compensate those Great Teachers enough that they won't mind missing all those performance bonuses, huh? The same sort of selflessness that drives American industry.

And look, I was educated in the last century, but I still vaguely remember some of it. I had a different teacher every year, then a different teacher every period, then a different teacher every period and every semester. Some I liked, some I didn't like, a couple completely lost control of things. None of 'em particularly inspired me to do anything. A couple of 'em I remember as really nice people, and a couple as real assholes. It was the subjects which either inspired interest or indifference, though not much of the latter: I didn't like wrestling, or gymnastics, and Health wasted my time; I was put in a Physics class I hadn't had the requisite math for, and just sorta goofed around. I can't imagine anything short of a promise of unlimited indecent liberties with Marsha McDonald which would've changed that. Certainly not some rah-rah teacher with an insurance salesman's spiel and a car dealer's televised disposition. If I'd'a had to listen to some wannabe Life Coach spend the whole of my third grade encouraging the plank-dense Johnny Masters to achieve his times tables I'd have made it a point of order to learn less.

Was it different with you? Is this some libertarian version of Everybody's Special, except it's Everybody's Special if he or she gets to rub up against Howard Rourk? Shit. My parents expected me to get good grades. I liked academics. Had the programs been more advanced I would've learned more. Had the teachers been more interesting I would have learned the same shit from more interesting teachers. Had the administrators been semi-competent I wouldn't have been in that Physics class before I had Calculus.

And there aren't enough Great anything to go around, anyway. If your child's education depends on having a first-rate teacher, go get Aristotle. Otherwise, encourage little Mason or Masonette to learn, and to learn more outside the classroom.

Look, can we at least be realistic somewhere in American political life? Just for fun? Okay, then, the real question about education "reform" is not what we should or should not do with our resources. It's "how long after a complete Republican takeover of the public schools will David Brooks be writing his 'high stakes testing doesn't give an accurate picture of educational performance' and 'it's not the schools, or the teachers, it's the parents' column? Over/under is four months.

Wednesday, March 2

Koch Bites

Charles G. Koch, "Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out". March 1

BECAUSE there might be a nickel in it. The end.

Let's return to a couple of our favorite themes as though we have more than one. First, When does this shit finally get recognized as both the driving force and the proximate cause of the collapse of the system, and not its perpetual "untried" solution? and, second, When are we going to exclude from the debate over Education people who can't put together a competent argument, let alone an honest one?

Last evening I turned on the local news at the top of the hour, just in time for the carny spiel, and 13's blond hairdo said this: "A major sneat will undergo renovation." She meant "street". Now, we all make mistakes, certainly. But there was nothing, nothing whatsoever to give the impression she'd meant to say anything but "major sneat". Not in her eyes, her body language, the pasted-on width of her smile, nothing. Now perhaps you imagine this as the announcer's art, the product of long training and years of experience, to recognize what is important in the context--not what the words mean, but how you look reading them, or something like them--but to me it emphasizes the fact that 1) the only important thing in the whole charade is getting to the advertisements on time, and 2) I seriously suspect that a good portion of the people paid to do so do not actually care what the words they use mean, if anything. The best example of that lately--and the one thing I literally applauded during coverage of the Democratic walk-out--was when the NEA president, asked by the Doyenne of Indianapolis Teleprompter Misreaders, Debby Knox, why teachers were opposed to the Education Reform package, told her that to begin with the thing had nothing to do with Reform. This struck Debby about the way Jaques' soliloquy would go over in a chicken coop. One hoped for the required wit for Debby to reply, "But that's what our graphic says."

There was no recognition, none, that the man had made a point, an especially wounding one at that, and that she'd been guilty of confusing an argument with a description. Not her job, what words mean. Besides, the mob has spoken.

We begin with the subhead:
Crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepreneurs from producing the products and services that make people's lives better.

"Crony capitalism" is a nice touch, isn't it? Don Charles is concerned about abuses on both sides. What's ahead is no rote defense of Big Business, no sir. It's a rote defense of the right of Even Bigger Business to gobble Big Business up and cough up an owl pellet.
Years of tremendous overspending by federal, state and local governments have brought us face-to-face with an economic crisis. Federal spending will total at least $3.8 trillion this year—double what it was 10 years ago. And unlike in 2001, when there was a small federal surplus, this year's projected budget deficit is more than $1.6 trillion.

Send entries to "My Favorite Koch Brother Public Denunciation of Reagan-era Defense Spending" to Doghouse Riley, ℅ this blog.

And look, for the record, I have no doubt that the Wichita Sun Kings' concern over budget deficits is genuine. Why wouldn't it be? Reader, if you had enough money for 10,000 lifetimes you might be tempted ask why the gubment should pass out bootstraps. If your inherited stake in the pillage and rapine of natural resources had set you up before you pooped your first diaper, unfettered capitalism might look like God's Own Plan of Salvation to you, too. It might even explain--but it doesn't excuse--conflating budget deficits with "government spending" and not "incontinent, largely Republican-libertarian tax eliminating", nor economic crisis with government actions, but not the libertarian government inaction which turned a terrible Bush administration economic record into a really terrible Bush administration economic record.

And you might also confuse "spewing uncounted millions to bumlicking message toadies" with "speaking out".
Several trillions more in debt have been accumulated by state and local governments. States are looking at a combined total of more than $130 billion in budget shortfalls this year. Next year, they will be in even worse shape as most so-called stimulus payments end.

So-called stimulus. Don't you just love it when the end of the American political spectrum which brought you Defense Department, revenue enhancement, and Death Tax decides to quibble over the precise use of words? (And I guess the fact that it must've been stimulating something if the states'll be worse off without it must've escaped Baron Koch's notice.)
For many years, I, my family and our company have contributed to a variety of intellectual and political causes working to solve these problems. Because of our activism, we've been vilified by various groups. Despite this criticism, we're determined to keep contributing and standing up for those politicians, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who are taking these challenges seriously.

Vilified? Merciful heavens. Did you try buying them off?
Both Democrats and Republicans have done a poor job of managing our finances. They've raised debt ceilings, floated bond issues, and delayed tough decisions.

Which is why you're a Republican.
In spite of looming bankruptcy, President Obama and many in Congress have tiptoed around the issue of overspending by suggesting relatively minor cuts in mostly discretionary items. There have been few serious proposals for necessary cuts in military and entitlement programs, even though these account for about three-fourths of all federal spending.

See note at "crony capitalism", above. Let's say something about easy Libertarianism, shall we? The Pharaoh of the Plains here knows full well that government spending which benefits him is unlikely to feel the axe while all around him are felled. We're going to have to go a long fucking way down that road before there's any meaningful defense cuts, and "meaningful" is still a long, long way from "justified", a level at which the Sultan of Teabagging would find himself with few friends on the Right, assuming he was still an assiduous budget cutter. At any rate, it's awful easy to say "defense cuts" when you don't spell any out, ain't it? Meanwhile, the gubment ain't gonna stop trying to land planes safely, or scrap the interstate system Koch Spoils, Inc., depends on; it's not going to stop enforcing contract law, prosecuting theft or fraud, guaranteeing bank deposits, or operating satellite communications, and it'll keep leasing gas and oil and mineral rights for pennies, so you get to sound both draconian and fair at no personal risk. In other words, you're a libertarian.
Federal data indicate how urgently we need reform: The unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already exceed $106 trillion. That's well over $300,000 for every man, woman and child in America (and exceeds the combined value of every U.S. bank account, stock certificate, building and piece of personal or public property).

First, there are no unfunded liabilities of Social Security; Social Security is just thrown in there because you'd like to flush it down the crapper with the rest of the social safety net. Second, "We can't afford it," is actually only one possible solution, and not much of one at that. (And funny, by the way, how it takes just one paragraph to go from "military 'and' entitlement programs" to, uh, half that.)
The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the interest on our federal debt is "poised to skyrocket." Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is sounding alarms. Yet the White House insists that substantial spending cuts would hurt the economy and increase unemployment.

With all due respect, Your Worshipfulness, there are actual arguments on the other side. See, government doesn't operate like an inherited prairie principality; the peons get to talk back.
Plenty of compelling examples indicate just the opposite. When Canada recently reduced its federal spending to 11.3% of GDP from 17.5% eight years earlier, the economy rebounded and unemployment dropped. By comparison, our federal spending is 25% of GDP.

I never realized it was so simple. Remember, that "Best Koch Brothers Op-Ed Excoriating the Reagan and Bush Deficits" deadline is midnight Friday.
Government spending on business only aggravates the problem. Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay.

While the number of businesses successfully lobbying for special favors and treatment in the deregulation of their business, or the abrogation of government responsibility to protect the welfare of its citizens, is just about right.
Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market. But it erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.

Listen, Sir Charles, we're all grateful for you bankrolling the lawsuit over Cheney's Energy Task Force. Keep fightin' the good fight.
The purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people's lives better. Businesses that fail to do so should be allowed to go bankrupt rather than be bailed out.

Okay, here's everything I know about economics. So you'll have to excuse my saying that at least one recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics has disagreed with you. An awful lot of people seem to think we couldn't let the global financial market collapse , and a lot of 'em think GM and Chrysler were too big to fail, even a lot of people who despise that circumstance. So it does seem to me that if you don't like Too Big To Fail it's the Too Big part which needs reforming, and I don't see anything about that in the Teabagging literature (maybe I did the search wrong). Given that the idea exists, given that, when the chips were down, it was a Free-Market-spoutin' Republican President who rode to the rescue, given that the people who control such enterprises are free to spread the same sort of largesse you're busy defending so they can get their way, perhaps it's time to recognize, at least, that political reality is sometimes going to trump your personal metaphysical certainty, much as actual reality so frequently does.
But what about jobs that are lost when businesses go under? It's important to remember that not all jobs are the same. In business, real jobs profitably produce goods and services that people value more highly than their alternatives. Subsidizing inefficient jobs is costly, wastes resources, and weakens our economy.

Beggin' your Lordship's pardon, but are there plenty of compelling examples, like Canada, to indicate that regularly tossing thousands, even hundreds of thousands, out of work, with no safety net, is the key to a successful economy? And if there are, do they show their work?
Because every other company in a given industry is accepting market-distorting programs, Koch companies have had little option but to do so as well, simply to remain competitive and help sustain our 50,000 U.S.-based jobs. However, even when such policies benefit us, we only support the policies that enhance true economic freedom.

As usual, the reformer is exempted from the reforms. In Canada this is known as "hypocrisy".

Let's just say this, Chuck: no one here would ever expect you to behave any differently.