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Warren Terra
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This has been another edition of what Bernie said:Get serious. It's not a question of anybody feeling better. Republicans don't want anything that Obama wants. That's their decision rule. If Obama had introduced a Republican-written bill they would have voted against it. Honestly, Von, your post read like all those insane Tom Friedman posts during the first three years of the Iraq war, dispatches from another universe. Friedman used to write the same essay every week or so about how there were good reasons and good methods for going into Iraq and for occupying them, and if we'd gone into Iraq for those reasons and in those ways and occupied them thoughtfully then everything would have been fine and maybe if we clapped really hard then in six months we'd find ourselves in that wonderful alternate universe. You post is similarly obtuse: the Republicans will not vote for anything for the next year. 40 Republican Senators voted en bloc for the government to declare bankruptcy rather than keep going, in response to a budgetary situation they did as much as anyone to create. The Republicans have adopted a policy of pure nihilism, and at this point if you write posts like this one the only question is whether you're attempting to convince yourself or whether you're really that deluded. @ Slartibartfast: Your party has been taken over by nutballs and its legislators are terrified of offending them.HUGE surprise that Kos' research project reinforced conclusions he'd already made.I'm not a huge fan of Kos, but this is a cheap shot. Kos is perfectly aware not only that he's biased but that he's known to be biased, and so he's always been very careful that the polling he commissions be transparent, so that people who suspect it was constructed to ensure a desirable motive will have to explain how, instead of simply mistrusting him. And so there's really an awful lot of information available about the methods, including the precise wording of the questions. And, yes, respondents were allowed to say they weren't sure - the third who supported impeachment and said Obama wasn't born in the US were certain. Now, maybe there are all sorts of systemic problems here: respondents with landlines, the spare time and willingness to answer two dozen questions, and willing to identify their affiliation may be weird and nonrepresentative people. Heck, maybe people identifying themselves as "Republicans" are weird, after Dubya and what with the right-wing excitement eschewing that party label. Heaven knows how many people imitated neanderthals in their answers dishonestly to tweak the pollster or for some other obscure reason. But you can't just sigh and say "it's just Kos".
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Sorry for the messed-up blockquote. I'm out of practice with posting here.
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Offer a bill that does only two things: 1)requires insurers to issue policies regardless of pre-existing conditions, and 2)forbids them to drop coverage after people get sick. Sounds great, except that if you do that without mandates you end up with justifiably very high premiums. And, of course, that's basically what the Senate bill is - insurance company regulation (guaranteed issue, community rating, no rescission), mandates, and some other stuff, i.e. subsidies, odious restrictions on access to abortion, and a tentative first step towards taxing health benefits. So we come full circle: the existing Senate bill, which the House could pass tomorrow, isn't great - but it does the basic things, and it's the best chance we've had in about seventy years. Furthermore, anyone who's really troubled by the financial issues should be aware that these could be fixed in the Senate with fifty votes, by Reconciliation. Yeah, the aforementioned odious abortion restrictions suck. But it looks like we can't pass a bill without some such thing in any case, and we've been waiting since FDR to get this far. If the Dems manage to drop this ball, then the Republican's nihilist strategy will be a complete success, and if that happens I don't know what kind of future America's experiment with representative democracy will have. It might work out OK for the country in a parliamentary system, where the opposition is largely moot until the election, but in a system like we've got, where the minority has so much veto power, if nihilism becomes a formula for success our goose is pretty much cooked.
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Pinko Punko, I tried reading those comment threads and was repulsed by the torrent of bile directed at Fernholz, which despite its vehemence I did not find particularly convincing as it was almost entirely lacking in substance. If you have particular insights you've derived from the threads, or for that matter that you've discerned for yourself, that you feel argue against Fernholz's criticisms (or, for that matter, Yglesias's rather more important overarching criticism that Taibbi's basic understanding of the problem is blinkered), I'd appreciate your presenting them. A simple reference to a thread I've already discounted as being composed more of heat than light is unlikely to sway many people.
By the way, when reading my above comment part of the one very-long "word" that is the image URL got truncated (you can see the whole thing if you copy-and-paste it, but it's too long for the column width, and some isn't shown). This only matter because that first term isimg src=""with the complete URL of the image between the quotation marks - but as I read the comment I don't see the end of the URL or the second quotation mark.
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How do we post pictures in comments again?I don't actually know html, really, but working from Daily Kos's FAQ on the subject, I then go to ImageShack's home page, rehost a random, moderately relevant image I found with Google there, and then I use a tag with the syntax:(opening angle bracket)img src="http://img410.imageshack.us/img410/712/zoolanderblog240x303.jpg" width=300 border="0"(closing angle bracket) (Note that I'm using the URL ImageShack provides for the full-size image, not the thumbnail. Also note that the width tag can be used to resize the image, and can keep too-wide images from disrupting the page layout)And voila: People who know what they're doing may have better advice, or at least may know the code for angle brakets.
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If you do want to encourage his modeling career, you're going to need better equipment: this cell-phone camera just isn't going to cut it. And the lighting is a shame.
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Kenneth Almquist: The cost of "defensive medicine" is unlikely to be affected by damage caps or by making it harder to sue.This is part of what I tried to say above. Yes, defensive medicine is a problem. Yes, doctors today are too reliant on excessive, expensive tests (my grandfather, now sadly departed, was a neighborhood family physician and an instructor for nearly seventy years, and in his later years the declining diagnostic abilities of his students was a constant refrain). But, while the "defensive medicine" label for this phenomenon is very evocative, what evidence is there that it's actually a response to malpractice suits? Certainly if you look at the US states that have instituted tort reform, the costs haven't gone down, nor has "defensive medicine" ceased. The fact is that, the way we pay for medical care, the doctor often has a financial interest in doing more tests. Not only might they get paid by the procedure, they may also own a piece of the testing firm. Remember June's famous Atul Gawande article? Leaving aside those insinuations of grasping motives, the doctors have no reason not to practice so-called "defensive medicine", because the doctors aren't supposed to consider the costs. And many patients also have no reason not to seek unnecessary tests or procedures, because of the way our health insurance works, and because the employer-provided insurance system means that many patients don't even see how their insurance is paid for in a transparent fashion. Why not pester the doctor for more tests, under the circumstances? There was a good essay on NPR last week, in which an emergency room doc talked about treating a kid who'd had a bad fall, but who the doctor was 99.99% certain just needed bed rest and some observation by his parents. The kid's dad wanted a CT, to eliminated that last 1-in-10,000 chance. Because it was his kid. And so he pressured and pressured the doc. And the doc knew it'd be less hassle to approve the CT, and its unnecessary expense and radiation exposure, and that the dad wouldn't see the cost, and the doc would actually get a little bit more money. Now, I don't know of a systematic way to address the phenomenon called "defensive medicine" without inserting some bureaucracy that would be at best paternalistic and at worst horribly destructive. But I think that blaming this whole thing on malpractice suits is extremely naive.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2009 on Reform's "Clarifying Moment" at Obsidian Wings
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Coincidences abound: If you're dismissive of 1% tort savings, health insurance company profits make up approximately 1% of total health expenditures too, so I guess you're dismissive of those too.OK, you assert that only 1% of our health care expenses go to insurers' profits. I'm willing to believe that number, at least for the sake of argument. But what percentage of total health expenditures go to marketing of health insurance? How much goes to the overhead within the insurers, such as the executives and all those low-level employees who keep the insurance companies' "medical losses" down by denying claims and practicing recission? I'm pretty sure that I've seen someplace that a double-digit percentage of our medical expenses are consumed by private insurers and not transmitted to care providers - and not all of that is profits. And, because we have all these self-interested private insurers, how much of our medical expenditures goes to the many hospital employees who work on bargaining with all the different insurers, and on managing all the different paperwork from all the different insurers (a growing industry), and how much money is spent arguing with the insurers over all those denied claims? How much money is consumed by the hospitals' collections departments, because we don't have single-payer?
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2009 on Reform's "Clarifying Moment" at Obsidian Wings
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Really, for any kind of meaningful health care bill to come out of congress, there's going to have to be some compromises made -- the Republicans want medical tort reform -- which will help lower costs/deficits -- which will mean less taxes for those of us who pay taxes -- so why don't Democrats include Tort reform in the health care legislation????Please direct me to the compromises the Republicans are willing to make. Tort reform might be a slight improvement to the system, and there are forms of tort reform that I might welcome. But where's the evidence that the Democrats will get any votes in return for its inclusion?
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2009 on Reform's "Clarifying Moment" at Obsidian Wings
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I contend that DADT may be one of those issues that Democrats don't really want to bring to a vote, and therefore won't do so unless we keep the pressure up on them.The former concern is one that I share to some degree, and the latter resolution is one that I heartily endorse. And I will point out that there are some signs of progress this time that I don't think we've seen before. 180 sponsors in the House may not be 218, but it's still pretty impressive for a bill that no-one expects to get action before the new year. Obama is offering at least rhetorical support, and it's said his people are plotting with Lieberman and maybe others in the Senate. Things may well happen - but, by all means, keep up the pressure.
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Re Tort reform: First, we should acknowledge that the practice of defensive medicine is real, and is costly and to a significant degree wasteful. Still, whether it's because of the fear of malpractice lawsuits, or it's because of other societal changes is unclear - doctors are simply less willing to play god or to risk failure, and in many cases under our current cost structure neither doctors nor patients are trained to worry about the extra costs of defensive medicine, because they are insulated from those issues by the way most medical care is paid for. Indeed, under some fee structures defensive medicine is significantly more lucrative for the doctor, and because the costs aren't transparent the patient is also happier. Second, we should acknowledge that tort reform has been tried - in, say, Texas, which is not a small place - and has not apparently affected medical costs. Now, it's possible that this is because the effects on a culture of defensive medicine would simply be too slow, and it's possible that tort reform really has the power to change a culture of defensive medicine but only if it's nationwide, rather than in a single state, even a large state. But this is not a good sign for the substantive case made by advocates of tort reform. Third, one aspect of malpractice cases that's pretty much unique to the US is the medical and nursing costs incurred by the malpractice, as part of the compensatory damages. Because Americans are usually liable for their own medical and nursing care, malpractice awards may need to be large enough to cover the costs the malpractice has incurred, and possibly for a long time to come. In other societies, these costs are already covered. Other societies also have better terms for people rendered unable to work. Fourth, and less topically, what I'd really like to see in "tort reform" is reconsideration of "punitive damages". I can see assessing punitive damages against the wrongdoer, because the incentives make sense. But why does the victim get them? Why does the victim's lawyer get a piece of them? Wouldn't a system in which the victim got just compensation and their lawyer bills paid make more sense, and the punitive damages could then go to a mutually agreed charity, or to the national debt, or be burned in the street for all I care? It seems to me that the incentives in "punitive damages" are weird.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2009 on Reform's "Clarifying Moment" at Obsidian Wings
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"is when you start making these assertions about how President McCain would have repealed DADT by now, or that the Congressional Republicans will cheer on DADT's repeal. There is just not the slightest scintilla of evidence for this, and a lot of evidence to the contrary, and it's frankly beneath you to make these absurd claims." Would you mind quoting me on where you got these impressions? I'm pretty sure I haven't said anything that even remotely resembles that. Are you confusing me with someone else?I appear to have conflated Von's assertions about Imaginary President McCain with your assertions about Imaginary Senate Republicans. So I'm responding more to a combination of various conservative commenters/posters than to any one, and obviously I should have toned down my response to the individual conservatives as they did not bear sole responsibility for propagating the claims in question. My apologies. With that caveat, my basic point, about Conservatives refusing to acknowledge the essential awfulness of the Republican party at a gut level, still stands. At this point, any progress in this county - indeed, any movement in this country, for good or for ill - will have to come from the Democrats, and over the Republicans' refusal to participate. The Republicans just aren't interested in government, or in policy.
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So, Marty, your position is that Obama and Bush have both implicitly and probably carefully and deliberately decided that the right thing to do is to maintain current levels of involvement in Afghanistan? Even though essentially nobody thinks that under the current course things will ever get any better and enable us to leave, as they say, "with honor"? When the other options are either to write it off or to escalate? Isn't that basically the definition of perpetuating a quagmire, at huge cost in the lives and wellbeing of American troops, of Afghan bystanders, and of course money? How is that position morally defensible? I think we should probably leave Afghanistan, because I'm not convinced escalation stands any reasonable chance of success. But if it's decided that we cannot depart, I'd prefer further involvement with a plan, even if it means escalation, to further drift. Because if we're just there with no plan, to no purpose except to avoid acknowledging defeat, what are we? And it seems to me that you're acknowledging that, whatever that is, that's what Bush was - with the exception that perhaps he'd have liked escalation and a plan in Afghanistan, but our army was just too busy in Iraq, leaving aside the still-mysterious question of why we're in Iraq. And whatever that thing is, you're saying Obama is it, too. I hope not.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2009 on Obama at his best at Obsidian Wings
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Marty, what is your point? Do you assert that the Obama Administration's criticism of the Bush Administration's handling of Afghanistan is inaccurate? That the criticism is inappropriate? I submit to you that the Obama Administration's criticisms of the Bush Administration's record are well founded. And on the second point I proposed you may be making, as to whether the criticism is appropriate - well, I'd say that if it was their first response or their constant refrain when asked about Afghanistan, if they were using it to avoid acknowledging any responsibility for the hard choices they face, then you'd have a fair claim against them. But it seems to me that it's not a crazy description of the current situation, and they're not using it as an excuse to throw up their hands in disgust; so what is your complaint? And have you actually read the transcript of the Emanuel interview? The transcript isn't obviously linked from the news story you linked to, and even searching CNN's site for "John King Rahm Emanuel" the transcript not the first or second search result. Take a look, and you'll see that the interview starts with an Afghanistan question, and aspects of that conflict are discussed for a total of five questions, all the way to the commercial break, well over a thousand words in the transcript. A couple of times in those thousand words, Emanuel does mention that the Obama administration feels that there's little or no progress in Afghanistan to build on. But that's far from the only thing Emanuel says - it's just the only thing featured in the story you linked. Part of this is that, in order to drive traffic, CNN is playing a game here and has posted a piece created by cherrypicking the part of the interview most likely to hit your buttons. Worked, too.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2009 on Obama at his best at Obsidian Wings
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I guess I've been a bit overwrought in my last couple of comments in this thread, so I should step back a bit and try to gain perspective. Sebastian, I agree with you that the persistence of DADT is unjust. I agree with you that I'd like to see more action from the Democrats in Congress and from Obama to repeal it. I'm less certain than you seem to be that things aren't proceeding behind the scenes, and that they aren't sincere in their intent to get DADT repealed. I think 179 House Democrats on the record for its repeal is pretty significant - though I'd like to see a similar proportion of Senators, and of course what I'd really like is more than a similar proportion, in both chambers; I'd like to see enough for repeal to pass. And I'm more receptive than some to the argument that it's acceptable to pass health care reform first. The part where I strongly disagree with you, where I find your stance infuriating, is when you start making these assertions about how President McCain would have repealed DADT by now, or that the Congressional Republicans will cheer on DADT's repeal. There is just not the slightest scintilla of evidence for this, and a lot of evidence to the contrary, and it's frankly beneath you to make these absurd claims. I understand the desire to find a home in some political party, and I would never suggest that you become a Democrat. But I do think it's important that you acknowledge the truth: the Republicans, in their current form as an organized party and extending to the vast preponderance of their elected officials, are simply not worthy of your support. Your criticisms of the Democrats would seem more firmly grounded to me if they did not emerge from within this haze of delusion.
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Sebastian, I haven't heard much about support for DADT repeal in the Senate. But, as I noted above, there are now 180 Representatives - 2/5 of the House - sponsoring a DADT repeal bill. I don't know when that bill is moving forward, but it doesn't look like there's nothing happening. Still, what I really don't understand why you think that the Republicans, who have been filibustering everything and stalling nearly all of Obama's nominations, would somehow decide to change tack and approve a measure that is certain to further incite their base, which is already frothing at the mouth after a steady diet of incitement from Fox News, talk radio, and antediluvian preachers. You keep on citing this 69% number like you believe it, which is touching - but have you seen the regional or the sociological breakdown on that one? Have you seen how many of those 69% feel strongly enough about it that it will change their voting behavior, compared to how many of the 31%? Do you really think it will stay at 69% once the propaganda campaign gets into swing? I notice that having apparently decided on the basis of nothing whatsoever that there's significant, if quiet, Republican support for DADT repeal in the Senate, you didn't comment on the link I found stating that, so far, 179 Democrats and one solitary Republican have signed up to back DADT repeal in the House. Do you really think the Republicans in the Senate are so wildly different from their House colleagues? And, in this vein, did you see this Steve Benen post yesterday? The key parts of the post:Rep. Mark Kirk (R), currently running for the Senate in Illinois, has come under some fire from the right for his alleged moderation. His decision to vote for a cap-and-trade bill in June, for example, led to widespread outrage in conservative circles. (Kirk has since changed his mind and now opposes the bill he voted for.) The Illinois Republican is also known for moderation on social issues, most notably gay rights. Kirk, for example, was the lead GOP co-sponsor on an expanded hate-crimes bill, and is on record supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This, of course, is also anathema to the Republican Party's base. So, as his Senate campaign gets underway, Kirk feels it's necessary to abandon the moderate image he worked hard to cultivate. (thanks to reader G.K. for the tip)He supports continuing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays serving in the military. "I think it's worked out well," he said. "Keeping that all out of the workplace makes common sense."And that's in Illinois. Kirk has decided, literally, that his shows too little homophobia for him to become a Republican Senator, and he's specifically signaling this decision by endorsing DADT. And from the same day of Steve Benen posts, we have the latest in the continuing saga of Republican attacks on Kevin Jennings, apparently becaue Jennings is involved in education and is not a heterosexual. This is the party you think is just waiting to let DADT repeal happen. P.S. My memories of 1993 politics aren't great, but in 1993 Barry Goldwater had been retired for more than half a decade. I'm sure he was vocal, but he was in no position to "spearhead" anything.
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Warren Terra, as a matter of fact I quite like the US system of measuring cake and scone ingredients in cups - because with baking what matters is getting the proportions right, it's actually more efficient in making good cakes, scones, and cookies than a dodgy old set of scales.Huh. I've never seen recipes in metric, so I had no idea that where recipes in English units use volumetric measurements, recipes in metric units use weights. I'd assumed the recipes used cooking measures much like the ones I'm familiar with (Tbsp, 1/4 cup, etcetera), but in ml's rather than in arbitrarily interconverting units.
Toggle Commented Oct 17, 2009 on Open thread at Obsidian Wings
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Have Republicans signalled a filibuster on DADT? Why is everyone assuming that? P1. The Republicans filibuster everything. P2. Repeal of DADT is a thing. C. The Republicans would filibuster repeal of DADT. QEDHe's got you there, Sebastian. Less flippantly, have any Republican Congresspeople signaled legislative support for DADT repeal? Take, for example, this recent story:Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) said he expects the House to hold hearings on a bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in winter or spring of 2010. Murphy, speaking to the Blade at a Wednesday event sponsored by the Raben Group, a D.C.-based public affairs firm, also said he has 166 co-sponsors lined up for the measure and commitments from another 10 lawmakers to vote for the bill but not sponsor it.How many of those 166 sponsors, or those 176 if you include the other 10 claimed to be quietly backing it, do you suppose are Republicans? Well, as it turns out, you don't have to guess. A blog calling itself Pam's House Blend has a Google Spreadsheet listing the sponsors, and the other Representatives they're targeting. They list 180 sponsors as of Wednesday the 14th, and one of them is a Republican. They only list 17 more Republicans as being worth the effort of lobbying them. But keep on telling yourself that there's a secret groundswell of Republican support in the Senate that will ensure a floor vote for, and passage of, DADT repeal. I think they're just as real as Imaginary President McCain, who supports DADT repeal. Meanwhile, Actual Senator McCain said in May of DADT that "the policy has been working and I think it’s been working well."
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One more reason all those old units should be retired, Jes! Surely if the US Went Metric, and started to get rid of a huge market for cup measures and cookbooks that use them, we'd get a start on getting all those old recipes converted, and be done in a generation or two, even affecting you folks across the pond? And now is the perfect time - the Black Helicopter paranoids are already so worked up about President Obama that surely Going Metric now won't make any difference to their level of perpetual outrage? (On the other hand, maybe there's already been enough violence from the extremist right, and Going Metric would push the rest of them over the edge). I just know that as someone who learned to cook after taking Organic Chemistry, and spends all day in a lab, I hate all these arbitrary English units we use in everyday life here in the US. Why should any reasonable person know how to convert tablespoons to teaspoons? What is the point of 5280-foot-statute miles (not to mention also having a 6076.12 foot nautical mile, which at least is more useful as it's also a minute of latitude)? P.S. The incredible thing is that some Americans actually use the old-fashioned English units not only in everyday life, but even in technical applications. I remember in particular one of the automated Mars missions that crashed because one contractor used metric units and another contractor used English units. The revelation quite boggled my mind - though it did result in a good Ruben Bolling cartoon.
Toggle Commented Oct 17, 2009 on Open thread at Obsidian Wings
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"To think that both the extreme right and far left could be wrong about the same subject -- that the answer or solution lies somewhere in the middle -- is a concept that seems foreign to the media/Internet age that we live in" Um, no, bedtime. That idea is called high Broderism online. The idea that the truth is found in the middle is the ideology of centrists and if anything, it tends to dominate the media, or large chunks of it.To be more accurate, Broderism is the idea that the correct answer is always in the middle, and only in the middle - anything that lacks bipartisan support is automatically wrong. Moreover, Broderism tends to assume that anything that smacks of bipartisan cooperation is presumptively correct.
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Pelosi and Reid are weak and ineffective (even for Democrats!)I'll give you Reid (but would you take him?), but Pelosi? Ineffective? Seems to me, she's gotten the House to pass whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, in whatever form she wanted (with the slight exception of the first bailout, last October, when the Republicans didn't deliver the number of votes their leadership had promised). I'm not saying she's my hero or anything (she really needs to show some action on the well-documented ethics problems of Murtha and Rangel), but honestly she seems about as effective as anyone in Congress in recent years, perhaps even including the dread Republican House Leadership of the early 00's (i.e. Armey and DeLay, who had an iron-fisted control over the House, and rather grander designs for its use than Pelosi seems to have).
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Heck, I think that there's a fighting chance that a McCain adminstration would have repealed DADT by nowImaginary President McCain is the best Imaginary President we've ever had! ... I mean, you know your assertion about Imaginary President McCain is complete nonsense, don't you? That aside, I believe in the "a lot on his plate" line a little more than do others, but even so I'd would feel better about the people saying "We have to wait for Congress" if I saw more signs of something actually happening in Congress.
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I'm a bit inclined to agree with part of what Chris McMAnus said, in that an appearance in a Slate outlet is a pretty strong signal that a piece will be at best completely without value and at worst extremely offensive (the wonderful Dahlia Lithwick excepted, of course). And we can therefore decide to ignore any such pieces and to dismiss them out of hand. That said, Lindsay is completely right: this advice reads like it was given by a sociopath. And there's nothing wrong with denouncing such vileness when it appears in a fairly prominent, well-funded outlet, even one that's consistently wrong. If someone's good enough for you to go out drinking with, they're good enough to take them to or from the hospital when they're in trouble. If you're so inclined, you can tell them afterwards that they've presumed too far on your friendship, and that you won't be there the next time - but at the time they're a friend in need, for FSM's sake. And since I started this comment with a reference to McManus's comment, what does "albeit one with spelling, no offense to Lindsay." even mean? And does anyone ever say "no offense" unless they mean that they were knowingly being offensive?
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Congratulations. By the way, in case you were curious, I checked, and found the following:Eric Jae-Young Lee Martin, if you were born to Sarah Palin, your name would be:Thump Hummer Palin So, now you know.
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2009 on The Dude at Obsidian Wings
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