Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

Romney Flip Flips Again, Chooses Biden as VP

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

As Bill Clinton said at the 2008 convention, “I love Joe Biden.”

All night, Biden hammered Ryan with his words and gestures and Ryan stuck to his talking points. While Obama seemed withdrawn in the face of Romney’s dazzling, primetime flip-flop to the center, Biden was prepared for Ryan to do the same and instead of retreating in incredulousness as this right-wing duo feigned outrage at their longstanding positions being accurately described, Biden took turns chuckling and looking aghast.

After that performance, I’m just waiting for Mitt’s next opportunistic flip flop as he announces his new VP pick, Joe Biden.

Bloomberg: How To Use Immigration Policy to Save Detroit

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Three thoughts regarding this suggestion by Mayor Bloomberg on Meet the Press yesterday morning:

1) This is exactly the sort of sensible, pragmatic suggestion that Bloomberg is known for — that is business-focused but would never get through any Democratic or Republican legislature because of the anti-immigrant backlash.  But it’s a good idea — and one grounded in the American tradition — as Matt Yglesias explained a year ago — similar to the homesteading policies that the U.S. used to encourage settlers to move West. Which leads me to my next point.

2) When I heard Bloomberg say this, I thought: “Aha! I wonder if he reads Matt Yglesias too!” Probably a silly thought — as Bloomberg spends his days focused on urban policy. But when I first heard Bloomberg say it, I had thought this was one of Yglesias’s many excellent ideas — but as I read his original post, it was instead one of the many interesting ideas that Yglesias brings to his audience from other sources.

3) Bloomberg’s approach to government is so successful because it is pragmatic and businesslike. But this comment also reveals what he misses. He uses the rather obnoxious line that any business run as the government is would fail. Of course! That’s part of why we have a government — to perform tasks that aren’t profitable but are still necessary. Bloomberg explains how politicians fail to act like businessmen by focusing on “issues they can’t come together on.” For a company, it makes a lot of sense to steer your company away from any matter on which their isn’t agreement. But politics is precisely where these ideas are hashed out. Of course, the tendency of some purists to insist on halting all action until the other side gives in needs to be balanced with the pragmatism that all successful businessmen and politicians have in common.

The Little Trumpet Player

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

This short film was directed by one of my brothers (Ryan Campbell), starring my little brother (Michael Campbell), and featuring another brother (Sean Campbell in 2 small roles).

In reference to the constant and never quite suppressed smirks in the star’s performance — and his role in his school play — Sean sniped: “You’re the second-lead Munchkin! You’re supposed to be better than that!”

Ah…family.

How Lawless and Increasingly Violent is the Arizona-Mexico Border? Not Very.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I’m impressed with Jake Tapper’s handling of This Week in the interim before Christiane Amanpour takes over in August. Tapper seems committed to widening the opinions voiced on the show from the typical “Beltway” crowd to some of those voices most influential in the Beltway who are critical of it. Which means bringing on Glenn Greenwald and Bill Maher. I’m still waiting on his bringing in some conservatives similarly positioned as “outsiders” while being very influential in the Beltway. Maher and Greenwald substantially influence our political conversation while never before being given the opportunity to intrude on the polite Sunday morning territory and confront the people they so regularly criticize. In the same spirit, Tapper has added a fact check component to his show — in which Politifact evaluates the truthfulness of factual claims made in his interviews. This is a huge improvement given the churning of misinformation that seems to be the main purpose some leaders use it for.

The quality of Tapper’s program was brought to mind watching this clip of Mike Murphy, a Republican political operative and frequent guest on Meet the Press. (For what it’s worth, Mike Murphy seems a genuinely likable guy and often, even a straight-shooter — and I don’t mean this as an attack on him personally.) If David Gregory allowed a fact checker to go over the claims of his guests, then perhaps the above-moment with the very inside-the-Beltway figure of Mike Murphy would not have happened. Because you see that moment was entirely fact-free. Entirely. Yet, Mike Murphy’s statement represents an oft-repeated “fact” in the opinion media — especially on the right. And it is driving the actual policy of the state of Arizona.

Let’s look at Mike Murphy’s claims and the facts:

It’s a lawless frontier because of the failure of the Obama administration to protect the American border. People are getting killed and murdered.  It has become really bad in Arizona.

Describing illegal immigration in partisan terms as a “failure of the Obama administration” seems best explained as a fudge rather than a blatant lie. It’s been an ongoing problem that as a nation we do not control our borders and maintain a law which cannot be enforced. Gregory interjects as Murphy is speaking, “This goes back before Obama, though, to be fair.” However, by stating such, Gregory seems to be conceding Murphy’s general point.

But look at the stats on this “People are getting killed and murdered” bit — which “has become really bad in Arizona,” according to Murphy, as he voices the “Conventional Wisdom” accepted by David Gregory as well. Yet there have been exactly four (4) murders along this supposedly lawless frontier in the past year. One of them generated thousands of headlines about the scourge of illegal immigration, the death of the rancher Robert Krentz. These anti-immigrant activists who talk casually of “People getting killed and murdered” (as if to double the impact of each homicide) — of the overall situation being “really bad” — even of, specifically, many ranchers being killed — always seem to point to this single example — Robert Krentz. I’ve seen no news story or other evidence linking more than this one death to border crossing. I’ve asked a number of people who have said this to point to some statistic — and instead I get the story of Robert Krentz, being exploited for politics. Remember: Arizona’s border is supposed to be the worst example of a lawless border and yet there is this single example which is always pointed to in order to justify the claim of plural murders — and even huge amounts of violence. I do not doubt there are other deaths along the border — perhaps on the Mexican side — of people trying to make the illegal crossing themselves and dying of thirst or other privation.

Mike Murphy follows this up by doubling down on his above false claim in an attempt to both place the blame for this historic problem on the Obama administration and make the case that Arizona’s very violent crime rate along the border is getting worse:

[I]t’s gotten, it’s gotten worse and worse.

To be fair to Murphy, one could consider that he means that any level of violence is bad — and that it is getting worse. So, let’s take this as a separate claim — that Murphy is instead claiming that violence along the border is increasing. CNN reported:

According to FBI statistics, violent crimes reported in Arizona dropped by nearly 1,500 reported incidents between 2005 and 2008. Reported property crimes also fell, from about 287,000 reported incidents to 279,000 in the same period. These decreases are accentuated by the fact that Arizona’s population grew by 600,000 between 2005 and 2008.

Let’s give Mike Murphy the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant that the overall problem of illegal immigration into Arizona has “gotten worse and worse” under the Obama administration. Homeland Security helpfully provides statistics on this which I have compiled into this chart:

This drop in illegal immigration isn’t due to any Bush, Obama, or local level actions. It’s due to the recession.

However, another consequence of a recession is a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment.

Which explains why Mike Murphy along with much of the Republican establishment is out there demagoguing illegal immigrants by making false claims about all these murders and violence: Because during times of economic trouble, people look to scapegoat someone for their troubles — and immigrants, especially illegal ones, get some of the blame.

But let’s stop with this pretense of “violent illegal immigrants.” That is the stuff of demagogues and prejudice as it simply is not based on facts.

Instead, let us acknowledge forthrightly that the excitement over this issue is being drive by cultural and economic resentment rather than “violence.”

Our Nation’s Drug Enforcement in a Nutshell

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010


Megan McArdle goes all “righteous fury” in response to the above video:

Have you ever had one of those arguments in a bar that start around eleven and wind up when the bartender kicks you out?  It starts off on some perfectly reasonable topic, but as the hours and the drinks mount up, the participants are forced to stake out some clear logical positions, and in doing so, crawl farther and farther out along the limb they are defending . . . until suddenly you reach a point at which one of the debaters can either abandon their initial commitment, or endorse the slaughter of 30,000 Guatemalan orphans.  And there’s this long pause, and then he says, “Look, it’s not like I want to kill those orphans . . . ”

This is our nation’s drug enforcement in a nutshell.  We started out by banning the things.  And people kept taking them.  So we made the punishments more draconian.  But people kept selling them.  So we pushed the markets deep into black market territory, and got the predictable violence . . . and then we upped our game, turning drug squads into quasi-paramilitary raiders.  Somewhere along the way, we got so focused on enforcing the law that we lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to make life in America better.

One of the Coolest Baseball Plays I’ve Ever Seen.

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Unfortunately, as it’s a college game, there’s no slow-mo replay.
Fordham rallies from 9-1 down to tie game. With score tied at 9 in the bottom of the 8th and bases loaded, Chris Walker (#4) puts Fordham ahead with game-winning hit. The baserunner at first, Brian Kownacki, scores by leaping over Iona catcher James Beck, and landing on home plate with a handstand, to put Fordham ahead 12-9, which was the final score.
(H/t Jonathan Chait.)

Must-Reads of the Week: Nukes, Inconsistencies, Graphing the Economic Crisis, Half-Hookers, Palin 2012, Mailer’s Wife, & Complex Business Models

Friday, April 9th, 2010

1. Nukes. Jon Stewart and Andrew Sullivan both make the same point: Obama’s nuclear policy is the fulfillment of Ronald Reagan’s vision:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Big Bang Treaty
www.thedailyshow.com

2. Inconsistencies. Matt Yglesias:

The main difference between left and right with regard to property rights is simply that the right is invested in a lot of rhetoric about markets and property rights and the left is invested in different historical and rhetorical tropes.

… Formally, the right is committed to ideas about free markets and the left is committed to ideas about economic equality. But in practice, political conflict much more commonly breaks down around “some stuff some businessmen want to do” vs “some stuff businessmen hate” rather than anything about markets or property rights per se…

Or if you look at the energy sector, you’ll see that businessmen want to push property rights for the stuff that’s in the ground (coal, oil, whatever) and a commons model for the stuff (particulates, CO2) that’s in the air. You can call that “inconsistent” if you like, but obviously it’s perfectly consistent with what coal and oil executives want! And those industries are the most loyal supporters of “right” politics around.

3. Graphing the Economic Crisis. Ezra Klein puts out some interesting graphs about the economic crisis and nascent recovery including this one:

Klein explains:

This graph is a political problem for the Obama administration (if not, in the short-term, an economic problem). But it is also necessary for all the other graphs. The bank rescue, which added temporarily to the deficit, stabilized the stock market and set the stage for its recovery. The stimulus, which also added to the deficit, helped moderate the job losses and and has contributed to recent gains. You could’ve made the lines on this graph better, but only by letting the lines on the other graphs get worse.

4. Half-hookers. Lisa Taddeo for New York magazine writes about the burgeoning half-hooker culture which exists in a bizarre alternate reality existing so close to our own where celebrities and finance guys get their women:

The general-admission crowds dance, and the table crowds dance a little more woodenly, a little more entitledly, with their finger pads on their tables. The promoters are dancing with the models and the waitresses are dancing with the bottles and everybody finds a place on the floor.

The floor people, they are just to fill the place up. The celebrities and the athletes and the tycoons are the ones for whom this world is zealously designed. A rung below in after-work pinstripes are the money guys, the Deutsche guys and the Goldman guys and the no-name hedge-fund guys—the “whales”—guys like that one over there in a Boss suit and John Lobb shoes, standing beside the table that cost him $3,000. Standing very close to it, like a Little Leaguer who wants to steal second but has never done it before. This gentleman’s not dancing, but he’s thinking about it.

There’s quite a lot to the article. A fascinating piece of reporting.

5. Palin 2012. Chris Bowers makes the argument for why Sarah will win if she runs.

6. Mailer’s Wife. Alex Witchell profiles Norris Church Mailer, Norman Mailer’s final wife, whose story moved me as I read of it:

John Buffalo Mailer [stepson of Norris:] “People are their best selves and worst selves intermittently,” he told me, “and the best marriages navigate that ride over the hurt, which I believe they did right to the end. They both had options, and at the end of the day the life they created together won out over infidelity, illness and hard times…”

7. Complex Business Models. Clay Shirsky:

One of the interesting questions about Tainter’s thesis is whether markets and democracy, the core mechanisms of the modern world, will let us avoid complexity-driven collapse, by keeping any one group of elites from seizing unbroken control. This is, as Tainter notes in his book, an open question. There is, however, one element of complex society into which neither markets nor democracy reach—bureaucracy.

Bureaucracies temporarily reverse the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In a bureaucracy, it’s easier to make a process more complex than to make it simpler, and easier to create a new burden than kill an old one.

Read the rest.

[Image by me.]

Senator Lindsey Graham: Fiscal Chickenhawk

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

As I wrote earlier, Republicans are clearly rooting for a fiscal catastrophe. How else would a plan like Rep. Paul Ryan’s which increases taxes on 90% of Americans, cuts services for most Americans (while excluding the elderly and military, who happen to be 2 of the main Republican interests groups and beneficiaries of the status quo), and cuts taxes on the richest (who happen to be the 3rd main Republican interest group) have a chance of getting through?

It’s not clear the Graham himself – or any particular Republican – buys into this plan. But it is the clear result of the Republican strategy.

What is clear is that Graham – for all his talk of fiscal responsibility – proposes amending Obama’s health care plan to take out every revenue-generator, leaving a massive hole in the deficit.

Conan’s Revenge: Comedy Bits That Aren’t So Much Funny As They Are Crazy Expensive

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Scalia Seems Confused About Natural Law

Friday, January 8th, 2010


Noted Catholic and right winger Scalia was recently asked – in his rephrasing of the question:

Why shouldn’t we follow the unamininty of the world [regarding] assisted suicide…homosexual sodomy…abortion…[&tc]?

His response was rather odd. He argues that judges don’t have any special expertise to decide these issues, therefore they should be decided by the people. (This part isn’t odd. It makes sense to me, though with some caveats.) But then he goes on to incorporate this with his belief in natural law:

I believe in natural law, but I believe that in democratic political instituions,  it’s up to the people to decide what they think natural law demands…Because we all disagree on natural law. Why say whatever a bunch of judges think is the answer? That makes no sense in a democracy. There are no clear judicial answers to these questions. And since there aren’t it seems to be it’s the kind of a thing that in a democracy we debate with one another and we ask the people what do you think natural law requires.

Here’s where he’s lost me. Because the primary precepts of natural law should be evident to every rational human being* – regardless of religion. Hell, it should be evident to animals – so evident that they act in accordance with it naturally. Thus we all shouldn’t “disagree on natural law.” We should tend to agree – and we should actually agree if we act according to our natures. Thus, the opinions of other people in the world actually does provide evidence of natural law – though it could be attempted to be explained away as some mass perversion.

I don’t disagree with the position Scalia is defending – that these contentious social issues should when possible be decided by the more democratic political institutions rather than the judiciary (although the judiciary has tended to follow public opinions) – but I find his argument itself puzzling. I think these issues should be decided by the more social institutions because I believe they are social decisions primarily. Scalia seems to be arguing that these are governed by natural law – which, given the role we have given judges to extrapolate from current law and apply it to specific situations, is exactly what they would need to be doing with natural law. “Joe Sixpack” – to use that derogatory phrase Scalia and Palin like so much – may know natural law as he knows the rules of the road. But we entrust judges with applying the rules of the road with rationality tempered by wisdom. They don’t always – but that’s their job. Their experience taking a set of rules that are knowable and applying them to specific situations is exactly the type of experience that “Joe Sixpack” doesn’t have – and would make judges more expect.

But – and here I speculate – it doesn’t seem Scalia believes in natural law as the term was created by Thomas Aquinas. (N.B. I haven’t kept up-to-date on modern day natural law theory, so if any informed readers could inform me if modern day Thomists have entirely eviscerated Aquinas’s definition with some work-around, let me know.) Instead he believes that issues like “assisted suicide…homosexual sodomy…abortion” &tc are inherently political. Thus, they should be decided by the political institutions rather than judicial ones. This undermines the case made by Robert P. George (along with many members of the Catholic Church hierarchy) regarding why the church must take political stands on issues involving natural law (where it happens to agree with the Republican Party.)

* As Aquinas wrote in the Summa Theologica: “[W]e must say that the natural law, as to general principles, is the same for all, both as to rectitude and as to knowledge.”