washington, dc, is a very silly place

Via Mike Riggs at Reason:

Once again, the softball team representing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has backed out of playing a Congressional Softball League game against the One Hitters, a team consisting of members of several drug policy reform organizations and others who support ending the "war on drugs..."

This is not the first time the Czardinals have refused to play the One Hitters.

Czardinals? One Hitters? Seriously, this isn't from The Onion. (I checked.)

In 6 years, the team found one reason or another to avoid taking the field against this team of individuals dedicated to reforming the out-of-date and ineffectual policies promoted by the ONDCP...

"It is really disappointing that the ONDCP not only refuses to have an honest debate with drug policy reformers about the absolute failure of drug prohibition, but also keeps ducking out of softball games with us," said One Hitters team captain Jacob Berg.

To be fair, I don't think I could stomach hanging out with anyone who worked for the ONDCP socially.


on candidates and presidents

Will Wilkinson, on the relative virtues of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson:

As governor, Mr Johnson showed that a non-ideological, pragmatic libertarianism can work as a governing philosophy. But neither full-blooded libertarians nor allegedly liberty-loving tea-party enthusiasts really care much about governing. Libertarians, accustomed to dwelling on the margins of American politics, participate in elections without hope of electoral success, if they participate at all. For them, presidential campaigns offer at best an occasion to preach the libertarian gospel to the wary public, and the more table-pounding the better...

The elements of Mr Paul's past and creed that Mr Somin, Ms Dalmia, and I find objectionable are not really liabilities. They are an important part of what makes "Dr No" a candidate capable of generating surprising amounts of enthusiasm and campaign cash, if not votes. Mr Paul and the tea-party movement are each in their separate ways creatures of Cold War-era conservative-libertarian "fusionism", which remains a powerful ideological and institutional force on the right. In contrast, Mr Johnson comes off as a post-fusionist, libertarian-leaning fiscal conservative. The very existence of such a creature heartens me, but it remains that there exists in our culture no popular, pre-packaged political identity that celebrates and defines itself in terms of these laudable tendencies.

During the Silly Season we call the presidential election in America, people tend to lose sight of the fact that being President of the United States is a job. It requires certain skills, a balanced temperament, and above all, an ability to actually govern. Too often, we view the presidency--and by extension, presidential candidates--first and foremost as vessels for our ideological wish lists. The result is that which makes one a successful candidate and that which makes one a successful president can be very different things.

As much as I like Paul, as much as I appreciate what he has done to bring some of the causes of liberty from the margins of political discourse closer to the center--I honestly don't think he'd be a very good president. Being a cantankerous ideologue makes him a great advocate, and a much needed voice of conscience in the halls of congress. With Johnson, you'd get much of the same ideology, with the "bonuses" of a pragmatic approach and a track record of functioning in an executive capacity.

I realize that to most this is academic; neither Paul nor Johnson have a realistic chance of winning the GOP nomination. Still, until someone resembling a frontrunner emerges from the field, it is difficult for me to tune this out.


today's lesson in fundraising

If you are seeking to make a movie that attempts to understand the "emotional downfall" of a guy who killed six people and then himself...perhaps promoting your Kickstarter campaign in the neighborhood where it happened and where (apparently) an awful lot of friends and families of the victims still live is not the best strategy. (Scroll down to the comments.)


memo to scott walker

No matter what you do, gay people are still going to fuck each other*.

The only thing that this will accomplish is to keep them from doing hot, naughty, marriage-undermining things like visit their partners in the hospital and make end-of-life decisions for them. Dirty, sweaty, leather-clad end-of-life decisions.

Tell me again how this isn't about hating gay people? Because if going out of your way to help make sure they die alone and apart from the person that they love isn't hateful, I don't know what is.

*They will also fall in love, build lives together, argue over who's turn it is to do the dishes, celebrate holidays, spend lazy evenings on the couch, get annoyed when their partner hangs the toilet paper the "wrong" way, inadvertently hurt each others' feelings, laugh over things that only they share, patiently indulge each others' taste in music, fight over pointless shit, get bored with each other, fall in love all over again, share in each others' triumphs and tragedies, go to the movies, paint the house, walk the dog, and do all the wonderful, horrible, and mundane stuff the rest of us do with the people we are lucky enough to share our lives with.

noted without comment

"[John McCain] doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works."

--Rick Santorum.

(Yes, that Rick Santorum.)


the tone def gop

I'm late to the party on this one, but it had sort of sifted into my consciousness this week that there was some sort of kerfuffle over a certain rapper being invited to a poetry event at the White House. I figured it must have been somebody overtly political, like Chuck D, or maybe someone whose lyrics might be interpreted as a bit misogynistic, like Kanye West.

Nope. It was Common. The guy that did a Christmas ad for The Gap. That guy.

I swear, given his choices in music, I'm tempted to think that President Obama is whiter than I am sometimes.

One of Sullivan's readers makes a point upon which I really cannot improve:

"I always find it amusing that Johnny Cash can sing lines like "Early one morning while making the rounds, I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down" or "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die" and everyone pretty much accepts that he's in character telling a story. But a rapper has gotta be squeaky clean if he or she doesn't want to be labeled a "thug". Even more amusing is to consider the legacy of Cash's famous appearances at Folsom and San Quentin prisons. Can you imagine such an event happening today with a rapper, even one as milquetoast as Common?"

evidence for the "monkeys and typewriters" theory of reality

...which, succinctly put, states that anything you can imagine exists somewhere, eventually.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you the illiterate, homophopbic vegan.

blogger wtf?

Blogger seems to have eaten everything I did on it yesterday. I had a pretty good post about Newt Gingrich. Did anyone see it?

UPDATE Per Blogger, they are aware of the issue and are working to restore posts from yesterday. So keep watching the space below this one. Or not.


well, i got better

Comments stalwart Dave passes along a piece that matches well with my (limited) personal experience with one Mr. Gingrich of Georgia:

And while he may understand the kinds of hot-button issues that get to people, what he does not understand is how he, Newt Gingrich, comes across to people. The answer: not well...Newt Gingrich never received more than 100,000 votes in his life. He'll never be president.

Back in 2007, it fell to me to entertain a colleague visiting from New Hampshire. In an effort to talk about something other than science for a few minutes, I (jokingly) asked him how many presidential candidates he had met. He paused for a moment, then said, "Pretty much all of them."

It took me a second to realize that he was serious.

Whatever you think of the disproportionate influence Iowa and New Hampshire have on the nominating process, one feature of this particular quirk in our system is that candidates have to actually meet a substantial portion of the electorate in those states, and make a meaningful impression on them to win. Clearly, this isn't a foolproof way to weed out the sleazy or the possibly unstable, but considering the stakes involved, it's probably better than allowing candidates to campaign solely via the media and at a great remove from real people. Or at least people who care enough to vote in primaries and caucuses.

I met Newt Gingrich twice: once as a middle school student, when his district still encompassed the south side of Atlanta (he decamped for Cobb County along with most of the other white people in the 90's), and a second time when I was a student at Georgia Tech. I don't think my impression of him either time was unduly influenced by politics, since in the first instance I was 12 or 13 years old, and the second time would have been right around the time I voted for Bob Dole for president.

Long story short: Newt is an asshole. One of the most off-putting, arrogant, condescending personalities I've ever encountered. To meet him is to dislike him.

His run will be mercifully short once the good people of Iowa and New Hampshire get the chance to realize this.


antidote to seriousness

(Ms. Connelly suggested by Dave)

Happy Friday!
I think I must have been the only person in the entire city of Seattle last night who watched the GOP debate non-ironically. (Actually, I had it on while I was cooking, which means I didn't hear some large portions of it.)

Quick thoughts:

--I occasionally think I am being irrational and unreasonable in how much I dislike Rick Santorum. Then I hear him talk for 30 seconds and feel totally OK about it. He is a despicable, self-righteous stain on our collective consciousness.

--A computer model designed to produce a generic, unsurprising, predictable presidential candidate would likely spit out Tim Pawlenty. I have no idea if this is a good thing for him or not.

--I wouldn't vote for him, but I'd be happy to have a couple of beers with Herman Cain. I have no idea why he is doing this. I don't think he does, either.

--Ron Paul has gotten a lot better at answering questions on his feet. Cramming the complexity of tort reform, no-fault insurance, and federalism into a reasonably coherent answer in under a minute is no mean feat. I sure as hell couldn't do it. I don't think President Obama could, either (and I do think Obama is one of the smarter men to hold the office in modern times.) I know Paul's out there for a lot of people, but you can't seriously argue that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

--I don't think Gary Johnson can win the GOP nomination this year, but I hope he stays in it long enough to shift the debate. If the Republican party has a national future among voters currently 40 and younger, it's going look a lot like him. Otherwise, they are going to relegate themselves to being a regional party of pissed off rural and suburban white guys in a country that is becoming browner and more urbanized.

--Republicans (except for Paul and Johnson) still really seem to want to torture people. Still.

ONE MORE THING (this has been percolating in my brain all day): Back in the good old days, torture apologists at least had the decency to argue from a ludicrous "ticking time bomb scenario" of the sort that only happens in big dumb action movies. (In fact, if you read my post from '07 linked above, you'll note that the torture question was put to the candidates in that debate in that form exactly.) Now we've gone from torture being justified in a hypothetical (and highly unlikely) scenario to being justified after the fact, because it may (or may not) have possibly led to intelligence that enabled us to kill OBL...eventually. That's a long way to fall in four years.


no better friend...

Awesome slide show at FP on America's four-legged warriors.

Tangentially related: I recently read Max Brooks' surprisingly great World War Z, and my favorite chapter by far was the one recounting the role military working dogs had played in the great war against the zombies.


bin laden's legacy

Balko sums up my thoughts rather well:

I’m relieved that bin Laden is dead. And the Navy SEALs who carried out the harrowing raid that ended his life have my respect and admiration...

But because of the actions of one guy, we allowed [fundamental changes to our values and way of life] to happen. That we managed to kill him a decade after the September 11 attacks is symbolically important, but hardly seems worth the celebrations we saw across the country last night. There was something unsettling about watching giddy crowds bounce around beach balls and climb telephone polls last night, as if they were in the lawn seats at a rock festival. Solemn and somber appreciation that an evil man is gone seemed like the more appropriate reaction.

Yes, bin Laden the man is dead. But he achieved all he set out to achieve, and a hell of a lot more. He forever changed who we are as a country, and for the worse. Mostly because we let him. That isn’t something a special ops team can fix.

Bin Laden showed the world that a handful of determined fanatics can shake an empire to its core. We aren't the same country we were ten years ago, and I honestly don't know when or whether we will be again.

Vengeance was ours to take, and I have no problem with the fact we took it. I'm glad the last thing bin Laden saw was (probably) the barrel of a gun held by an American. There is grim satisfaction there, but no joy. I celebrate the way I imagine I'd celebrate the removal of a malignant tumor, not the way I'd celebrate a national championship.


It is often said that we should not speak of the dead unless we have something good to say. Well, Osama bin Laden is dead.