It isn’t the first time I’ve seen the thesis

Basically, “the suggestion over at New Donkey”: is that, in fact, the nature of marriage has always been changing, and points out the fact that both Luther and Calvin felt that marriage was a secular thing that should not involve the church.

I’ve also heard it suggested, many months ago, that marriage as a formal ceremony originated as a way to be assured of the “proper” passing-down of property (poor people would just be “common law” man and wife), and that the clergy got involved because they were the only ones who were literate.

How apropos

On the same day “I quote Jon Carroll talking about the movie Kinsey”:/2004/11/jon-carroll-on-kinsey-2004-11-19.html, Steve Clemmons finds that New York’s premier PBS station “will not be showing ads for the movie”:

No, there’s no chilling effect.

Just in case you thought it was about protecting marriage…

Yeah, yeah, Tom Oliphant likes Kerry, and he’s a Massachusetts liberal and all, but that doesn’t change the fact that, of the 11 state ballot initiatives portrayed as “protecting marriage”, only three were just about that–“the other 8 were about restricting people’s abilities to make certain sorts of contracts”:

bq. In pivotal Ohio, for example, the voters may not have realized it but they voted to strip people of the right to contractually arrange distribution of assets, child custody, pensions, and other employment benefits.

Yep, those are the sorts of things that people in long term relationships who can’t get married might want to arrange. But they’ve been explicitly denied the right to enter into those sorts of contracts.

Your “small government” party at work.

Hopefully some activist judges will strike down these laws. Presumably, it shouldn’t be too hard a sell, since apparently people didn’t bother to find out what they were voting for, and are now presumably suffering buyers remorse:

bq. The evidence is that the voters who approved it also opposed its actual contents. In the official exit poll Tuesday night, 27 percent of the voters said they support full marriage rights, 35 percent supported civil unions, and only 27 percent oppose any legal rights for same-sex couples. In other words, to underline the importance of artifice and deception in our sound-bite culture, the voters approved a measure opposed substantively by 62 percent of the very same voters.

Somehow I suspect that the local media didn’t do a great job of explaining to people what those initiatives _meant_–they just parroted the talking points of those who proposed them, and if that misrepresented the substance of the initiative, well, who’re the media to do actual, you know, _reporting_.

What’s that, Kerry’s a bad Catholic?

Funny enough, though, “Bush is a worse one”:

Of course, Bush makes no pretense of being a Catholic–or even of going to a church–so, in this wierd, upside-down world we live in, that means he’s _less_ subject to criticism than Kerry.

My admiration for Jon Stewart is probably obvious

The scary part, though, is the fact that it appears that “watching ??the Daily Show?? will make you as familiar with election issues as watching cable news”:

“But I thought you liked ??the Daily Show???” you say.

I do. Quite a lot. But it scares the fuck out of me that the electorate is being so ill-served by the not-fake media.

Incidentally, you should also “read the transcript of Jon Stewart’s appearance on ??the O’Reilly Factor??”:, and then tell me which person is the asshole.

So much for market efficiency

From Paul Krugman today:

bq. The fact is that the mainly private U.S. health care system spends far more than the mainly public health care systems of other advanced countries, but gets worse results. In 2001, we spent $4,887 on health care per capita, compared with $2,792 in Canada and $2,561 in France. Yet the U.S. does worse than either country by any measure of health care success you care to name – life expectancy, infant mortality, whatever. (At its best, U.S. health care is the best in the world. But the ranks of Americans who can’t afford the best, and may have no insurance at all, are large and growing.)

So the reason everyone fears socialized medicine is because it produces such bad results? What was that again?

Hell, socialized medicine works for the US Military, right, or are we screwing our service-women and -men in yet another way?

Markets work when you have honest, ethical actors. When everyone’s trying to game the market, using tricks to squeeze more blood from the turnip, it’s no wonder you get shitty results.

Markets with honest, ethical actors only happen in Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein novels.

Damn Straight!

“Discourse in the modern age”:

It’s only missing some “Bow down before Giblets! BOOOOOOW DOOOOOOOWN!” action.

And here’s some more info on Kerry’s Health Plan

The ever-reliable Paul Krugman has “a column discussing Kerry’s Health Plan”: The point I would hope you would make to anyone in hearing range is this one:

bq. John Kerry has proposed an ambitious health care plan that would extend coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, while reducing premiums for the insured. To pay for that plan, Mr. Kerry wants to rescind recent tax cuts for the roughly 3 percent of the population with incomes above $200,000.

I’ll just make another point. In a good year–one in which I am very busy and my clients actually pay me on time–our household income tops that $200K figure. So I’m here, as one of those 3 percent, telling you _vote for this man_. _We don’t need the extra money, we’d just spend it on alcohol and expensive kitchen implements_. Don’t let us do these irresponsible things–vote Kerry!

At least read the article.

Barbara Ehrenreich is now doing a stint as a NYT Op-ed person

She is, of course, the author of ??Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America??, a book that documents, among other things, that Wal-Mart doesn’t necessarily pay its employees enough to shop at…Wal-Mart.

Now, I’m sure some will say that it’s awfully overblown to “compare George III and George W. Bush”:, but she does a credible job of it. And she includes this important point on the issue of civil liberties:

b1. But it is the final sentence of the declaration that deserves the closest study: “And for the support of this Declaration . . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Today, those who believe that the war on terror requires the sacrifice of our liberties like to argue that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” In a sense, however, the Declaration of Independence was precisely that.

By signing Jefferson’s text, the signers of the declaration were putting their lives on the line. England was then the world’s greatest military power, against which a bunch of provincial farmers had little chance of prevailing. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t kidding around with his quip about hanging together or hanging separately. If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.

Transcript from Jon Stewart on Larry King Live

Quite an “amusing interview”: I really liked this:

bq. STEWART: Very angry. Loves the Americans. Very big. Wants us to have bigger cars. Wants us to have bigger cars and as a little goof on us has only made a finite supply of oil. It’s very — he’s very funny. He’s a trickster. Here’s another little joke he did. He promised three different religions they were the chosen ones, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and then, funny, follow me, he put their holiest sites all in the same place. And then he backed away and he just wants to see who wants it more. That’s what this is about. This is God going, hey, show me something, people.

It’s also amusing the moment when someone calls up and curses him.

Everyone should read Roger Ebert’s essay on Farenheit 9/11.

There is _so much sense in everything Roger Ebert says in “his essay about Michael Moore’s film ??Farenheit 9/11??_”: everyone should read it, and good people should take it to heart.

I will, of course, only excerpt a little snide bit:

bq. …and yet in the days before the film opens June 25, there’ll be bountiful reports by commentators who are shocked! shocked! that Moore’s film is partisan. “He doesn’t tell both sides,” we’ll hear, especially on Fox News, which is so famous for telling both sides.

There is no problem at all with being partisan. It would be awfully damn boring if we all agreed all the time. But make sure you get your facts straight. Period.

You may remember the Frist aide who stole Democratic Judiciary Committee memos?

Manual Miranda, the one who was only reluctantly let go after it became obvious that this couldn’t be dismmissed as “boys will be boys” or whatever excuse the Republicans are using these days.

Well, he’s now the head of a new organization called the “Ethics in Nominations Project”:

There is just absolutely nothing else to say. Nothing.

I’m reduced to this

Yes, I have begun reading “Gawker”: in order to escape the daily wretcheness of our situation. I mean, this is desperation for Schadenfreude. Anyway, “this was kind of funny”:

A very interesting article considering entitlement programs

Mark Schmitt (aka “The Decembrist”: has an article in the latest “American Prospect”: discussing “entitlement programs and where we might go from here”:

I have had my disagreements with Michael Froomkin in the past

After all, I worked at the University of Miami School of Law as their network administrator during a time of big changes that Michael didn’t see the need for and didn’t want to take part in. Such are the vagaries of institutions.

However, Michael’s “analysis of the Torture Memo”: is well worth reading. In fact, I find myself adding his blog to my already overloaded daily reading.

Now to try and do something that will pay, for a change.

Laura, is it too late for Michelle to reconsider?

The two people who read this space know that I am often proud of Massachusetts and its record of being a relatively progressive state.

Which is why it disappoints me much to find out that the “MBTA has decided it can do random searches of passenger bags”:

As “jwz said”:, “Bill of What?”

I have nothing to add

So, of course, I was travelling last week, which means I wasn’t really in a position to post on D-Day, or Reagan or Tenet, or any number of other things. Instead, I was taking advantage of the fact that you can now ship wine to North Carolina–good for people who come to dinner, bad for the American Express balance–and seeing friends in the Bay Area, some of whom I haven’t seen since before I finished college.

And ultimately, I’m just fine with that. I don’t want to write about all this shit. I’m jet-lagged, still somewhat sleep-deprived and just generally cranky right now. You want to hear intelligent people, “Whiskey Bar”: has the goods on just about everything, from “Reagan”: to “abrogating the Constitution”: to “how the right-wing is conducting itself leading up to the election”:, while “Brad DeLong”: links to a very interesting “a NYT article on honesty”: as well as a bunch of other stuff that I want to read.

Me, I’m going to be working on posting pictures of the blooming lavender fields at Matanzas Creek.

I cost $4000/year

Well, actually, I cost more than that, but that is the amount we pay to have me covered on Anne’s health insurance.

This is, I think, obviously ridiculous. I am healthy–in fact, I am almost certainly in better health now than I have ever been before, and although I do have asthma, through yoga and sensible diet and losing weight, I haven’t had an acute attack in nearly a decade; in fact, over the last several months, I have scaled back my drug usage dramatically–I use Flonase at a very low dosage to keep my allergies in check, since they are really the only trigger for my asthma, and I have albuterol for those times I do experience any sort of reaction.

I suppose we do get some benefits from all that money–my prescriptions are $25 instead of $75 every couple of months. So I guess you could say I only cost $3400/year.

But all the rest of that money we pay is against the possibility that I might get very sick, or be in an accident or otherwise require medical care. But that’s a ridiculous amount for that purpose; in fact, we all know that it’s actually going to pay for the people who are really sick. That is the nature of insurance.

With all this in mind, I was very interested to read Brad DeLong’s “discussion of the Kerry health care proposals”: It looks like it might actually be sensible, and maybe even implementable.

Kerry Google-bombed

Wired News “has a story”:,1283,63557,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2 about right-wingers google-bombing the word “waffles” to point to Kerry’s site.

I guess around their neck of the woods that counts as reasoned debate.

Yeah, I’m probably just pissed that no one thought to do it to Bush first.

Boy, I hope they don’t choose Alabama

I would hate to have to use a passport to visit family. Thinking about it, I wouldn’t want them to take South Carolina–it’s on the way to Alabama for us–and I think Chet would be disappointed if they took Mississippi.

Why not North Dakota?

Oh, what am I talking about? “These nutjobs”:

bq. offers the opportunity to try a strategy not yet employed by Bible-believing Christians. Rather than spend resources in continued efforts to redirect the entire nation, we will redeem States one at a time. Millions of Christian conservatives exist, but we are geographically spread out and diluted at the national level. Therefore, we must concentrate our numbers in a geographical region with a sovereign government we can control through the electoral process. is orchestrating the move of 50,000 or more Christians to one of three States for the express purpose of dissolving that State’s bond with the union. The three States under consideration are Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. The exact destination will be chosen by vote of our membership. Our move will commence when the federal government forces sodomite marriages on our local communities or once we reach the 50,000-member mark, whichever comes first.

I’m sure Jesse Helms would have approved

The North Carolina Republican Party has decided to “deny the Log Cabin Republicans a table at the state convention”:

Honestly, I’m always baffled at the way various groups keep going back to the GOP even when, after the election, they don’t even bother to leave $20 on the metaphorical dresser.

Josh Marshall has captured it perfectly for me

bq. Another way to put this might be to say that being the good guys is about what you do, not who you are.

This is why, despite the wretched, vile, but sadly-not-quite-inhuman acts of the al-Queda operative “Bush chose not to pursue, so as not to distract from his desire to go to war with Iraq”:, we should continue to pursue the issue of the wretched, vile acts we have perpetrated.

I hate these sorts of articles…

Robert Reich “has an interesting editorial on whether interest rates are artificially low”:, which is echoed by “Josh Quiggin”: and “Brad DeLong”:

Billmon used to be the one to scare me with economics articles, but now I’m reading more stuff from economists.

Surely, we have not fallen this far

“Daily Kos”: has a link to “a Washington Times story”: claiming that the Club For Growth–you know, those jokers who think that the answer to every problem is tax cuts–has prepared an anti-Dean ad described as:

bq. In the ad, a farmer says he thinks that “Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading …” before the farmer’s wife then finishes the sentence: “… Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs.”

McCain-Feingold has been upheld.

I could give you my rant about how the stupidest thing that was ever done in this country’s legal system was extending legal status mirroring that of actual individuals to corporations–which gives them a pretext for claiming that their “First Amendment Rights” are being abridged.

However, I will just sit back happy that the Supremes didn’t let us down, while meditating on Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O’Connor’s all too true assessment that:

bq. We are under no illusion that (the law) will be the last congressional statement on the matter. Money, like water, will always find an outlet. What problems will arise, and how Congress will respond, are concerns for another day.

Ah, the joy of logic.

Some people complain about biased newsmedia.

The newsmedia operate in a free market as for-profit enterprises.

It is reasonable to assume that the majority of the market favors the existing media model, since, in a free market, entities that produce inferior or unpalatable products will lose market share to those who produce superior or more palable products.

Therefore, anyone who complains about biased newsmedia must have expectations that do not reflect the majority of the market.

The market is never wrong.

Oh, those “fiscally responsible” Republicans…

You know, these days, terrorism doesn’t scare me much.

Really, it has never scared me all that much. When I was 10 I spent 3 hours on a school bus outside of Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany because “a bomb had just gone off in the parking lot of Headquarters USAFE”: I had soldiers with M16s inspect the bus I rode into school on every day for the next five years.

For that matter, I was in the air on September 11th, and ended up grounded for three days in Milwaukee. Although I understand Milwaukee to be a wonderful place, the area around the airport is in the middle of nowhere. Not recommended.

And, frankly, the statistics are with me–your chances of dying from terrorist activity in this country are fairly low. You’re in a hell of a lot more danger being in a car, and I suspect you can die in a car in a fashion every bit as horrible as anything a terrorist could cause to happen to you.

Anyway, my views–unpopular, I expect–on September 11th and so forth are not, per se, germane to my real point, which is that this administrations fiscal policies look like they are going to engender “one hell of a payback”:, and that scares the _shit_ out of me.

It’s almost enough to make me vote Republican next year, so they can preside over the trainwreck they’ve created (why do the words of ??Casey Jones?? suddenly begin to waft through my head), instead of doing what Nixon did, and passing the buck onto a Democratic administration that then had to do the real work of correcting things.

I’ve said it for years–Democrats may be “Tax and Spend”, but Republicans are “Borrow and Spend”, and I know which one _I_ consider “fiscally responsible”.

Just as a pointer to those who might not otherwise see it…

Joshua Micah Marshall’s “Talking Points Memo”: has a nice interview with Wesley Clark in both “html”: and “pdf”: formats.

I think the pdf one is much more readable.

Certainly, anyone who’s intending to participate in a Democratic primary should read it.

Methinks I’m gonna have to get a fscking PayPal account here soon.