Amoral Matt

Mr. Destructo says it so much better than I could:

Matthew Yglesias—a Norelco marketing experiment to see if a hand-drawn Sharpie beard on a peeled potato could sell men’s earrings—wrote a morally and intellectually odious article at his second job yesterday. His Slate column, “Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That’s OK,” addressed the deaths of 161 workers in a factory collapse in Bangladesh with the tone they so richly deserved: bored.

Writing off the death of 161 people with 370 words of vacuous unconcern requires the machine-like efficiency we’ve come to expect from places where pre-teens assemble Air Jordans. Yglesias’ thesis, what little exists, is that the Bangladeshis are a people squalid enough that death is an acceptable randomly applied career path, and that dead Bangladeshis are what keep flat-front chinos at $29.99 at the outlet store. Our pants are cheap because their lives are, and cheaper things are innately good. Just think how much Upton Sinclair saved on hamburger as a young man. What an ingrate.

At best, one could chalk Yglesias’ attitude up to the neoliberal worship of free trade, but ascribing any ideology to Yglesias is like trying to pin a Bad Citizenship medal on fog. He differs sharply from his Slate colleague Dave Weigel, who takes pains to acknowledge his affiliation with Koch-owned Reason. While Weigel seems like an affable guy who delights in mocking the ridiculous—and, with the GOP the party that forgot math, science and history, he finds common cause with the left—it’s clear that liberals probably would not enjoy handing the budget over to him. This is how honest compromises are struck.

Yglesias offers nothing so concrete. He is a process acolyte, who never strays far from the orbit of Beltway centrist think-speak. His ideological bona fides extend to thinking that slightly-left people saying things identical to everyone else are slightly better than everyone else—all of whom are essentially right anyway, because why else would people agree? Ideas are less important than the formalism of tautologically explaining them, reiterating them, then deforming reality to accommodate them. His job is not to challenge them but hammer out a 500-word explainer detailing how wrong you are, while reassuring you that we’re on the right track. Matthew Yglesias’ voice is the same soothing one you use on your dog while the vet is euthanizing him.

The world is a battlefield

Amy Goodman:

As the Senate holds its first-ever public hearing on drones and targeted killings, we turn the second part of our interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.” Scahill charts the expanding covert wars operated by the CIA and JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, in countries from Somalia to Pakistan.

“I called it ‘Dirty Wars’ because, particularly in this administration, in the Obama administration, I think a lot of people are being led to believe that there is such a thing as a clean war,” Scahill says. He goes on to discuss secret operations in Africa, the targeting of U.S. citizens in Yemen and the key role WikiLeaks played in researching the book.

He also reveals imprisoned whistleblower Bradley Manning once tipped him off to a story about the private security company Blackwater.

Scahill is the national security correspondent for The Nation magazine and longtime Democracy Now! correspondent. For the past several years, Scahill has been working on the “Dirty Wars” film and book project, which was published on Tuesday. The film, directed by Rick Rowley, will be released in theaters in June.

Eclipse today

Lunar eclipse at 5.46 degrees of Scorpio. Remember, eclipses put shit on turbocharge! You can read about it here, here, here, here, or here.

Lucky me, this (and the next two eclipses) will kick my ass. Hope it’s productive!

Buyer’s regret

A lot of people warned Eric Schneiderman not to take this job, which used his watchdog reputation to hide the Obama administration’s inaction:

WASHINGTON — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has privately criticized the Obama administration and the Department of Justice for not aggressively investigating dodgy mortgage deals that helped trigger the financial crisis, according to senators and congressional aides who met with him this month.

New York’s top prosecutor is co-chair of the administration’s year-old Residential Mortgage Backed Securities Working Group, an initiative that President Barack Obama called for in his State of the Union address last year. In a sign of Schneiderman’s importance to the group, the White House seated him behind Michelle Obama during the speech.

Schneiderman, a Democrat who has attempted to investigate Wall Street, expressed his frustrations with the administration earlier this month during private meetings with Democratic senators on Capitol Hill, arguing that he was “naive” when he first entered into the partnership with the Justice Department, lawmakers and their aides said.

Critics of Schneiderman’s collaboration, which came in exchange for his assent to a national mortgage settlement, warned at the time that the attorney general was being played. His recent criticisms of the administration may renew allegations that he, too, has compiled a lackluster enforcement record.

Schneiderman has recently directed his attention to working with lawmakers and outside groups to pressure the administration to toughen its approach. He traveled to Washington for meetings with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), among others, according to people who attended the meetings. The four senators have been among the loudest critics of the Obama administration’s efforts to hold the financial industry accountable for alleged wrongdoing, charging they have not gone far enough.


Pennsylvania has an ongoing debate about whether to privatize our state liquor stores, but advocates can’t really have it both ways and be logical. You can’t push to legalize pot by pointing out how much safer it is than alcohol, then insist, oh by the way, there should be less government control of how liquor is sold.

I’ve seen what booze can do to families and neighborhoods (and to the roadways). I don’t think your desire to pick up an inexpensive yet exuberant little Chilean red at the corner store is really all that important. Yes, I know, I’m not a drinker, but I don’t really see how the quality of life is affected by paying a few bucks more for something you don’t really need. And I really don’t think it’s a good idea that people get to buy booze in the middle of the night. Show me where some good has come of that.

“The common theme here is that if alcohol is more available, people tend to drink more,” said Robert Brewer, who leads the alcohol program in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC. “So then the question is, where does privatization fit into that?”

The scientific studies reviewed by the task force – covering privatization of beer, wine, or liquor in seven states, two Canadian provinces, and Finland – found that privatizing sales generally results in more outlets for buying alcohol, Brewer said.

A separate study in Sweden, where the government took back control of sales of some types of beer, showed alcohol-related hospital admissions down across all groups, and the number of beer outlets down from 11,550 to 300.

Private stores also may have longer hours than state-owned stores, and may not be as aggressive about checking IDs, leading to increased drinking, said University of Victoria researcher Timothy Stockwell. Increased marketing is also a factor cited by researchers.

[…] Stockwell’s studies, which tracked alcohol consumption before and after privatization in British Columbia, suggest that for every 10 new liquor stores, there are one additional alcohol-related death and two hospitalizations.

If true, is it worth it? Might be more useful to talk about that instead of convenience.


Seriously? Eighth grade?

READINGTON, N.J. – School board members will review a dress code since a principal banned girls from wearing strapless dresses to an eighth-grade dance.

I fail to see how parents do their daughters any favors when they allow them to present themselves as much older than they are. It’s a kind of faux maturity that often leads to girls being pushed into sexual situations before they’re emotionally ready. I mean, strapless dresses for an eighth grade dance? Really?

I guess I’m just a dork. I realize that kids are always eager to be more “grown up,” but I thought it was the parents’ job to rein them in. I guess I fell asleep and missed the new reality.

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