Tucker Carlson is a dick. But most of the time, he’s just a faux intellectual, dishonest argument-making kind of dick. He’s the kind of guy for whom I have contempt because of his inane, incoherent and infuriatingly smug arguments, not because he’s a violent jerk to people. Except that it turns out he’s a dick of the thuggish variety as well:
CARLSON: Having sex in a public men’s room is outrageous. It’s also really common. I’ve been bothered in men’s rooms.
[Dan] ABRAMS: Tucker, what did you do, by the way? What did you do when he did that? We got to know.
CARLSON: I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the — you know, and grabbed him, and — and —
ABRAMS: And did what?
CARLSON: Hit him against the stall with his head, actually!
CARLSON: And then the cops came and arrested him. But let me say that I’m the least anti-gay right-winger you’ll ever meet…
Jesus, I sincerely hope I meet right-wingers who are less anti-gay than someone who unapologetically attests, on national television, to having committed a fairly extreme and violent hate crime against some random gay guy. How on earth is it that Tucker Carlson didn’t at least get arrested for this? This seems like a fairly clear-cut case of assault and battery.
Megan McArdle has been writing a series of epically point-missing posts about health care that seem specifically designed to annoy. The latest really got me, though. Megan is flabbergasted – flabbergasted! – to hear that one thinks that the government should help the sick:
If we should give money to sick people regardless of need, is it because being sick sucks and we’re giving people bonus payments for having sucky things happen to them? If that’s the case, why don’t we give people bonus payments for, say, being really ugly, or being severely socially awkward, both of which seem at least arguably worse than, say, having chronic asthma.
Also, if they deserve money just for being sick, why give them the money in the form of healthcare? Wouldn’t a cash transfer be even better? Then the people who wanted to be treated could spend the money on healthcare, and other people could spend the money on something they valued even more than healthcare. It seems like a Pareto improvement in net happiness over a simple single-payer system.
There are a whole number of things wrong with this. The hypothetical in the first point is beyond silly. The difference between giving a sick person medicine and giving a socially awkward person money is that the medicine will get rid of the sickness, whereas I’m pretty sure money is an, at best, unreliable cure for social awkwardness. Inasmuch as we’re interested in alleviating suckiness, it should be pretty obvious that universal health care is a much more sensible policy than welfare payments to ugly people.
Megan again ignores the fact that medicine cures illness (a minor point in discussions of health policy, I know) in her second argument. When choosing between a cash transfer and medical treatment for a sick person, one is operating under the presumption that the person deserves one of these two things because they’re sick. Hence, it’s pretty absurd to argue for an option that wouldn’t necessarily reduce said sickness over one that most certainly would.
But the thing that annoys me most about Megan’s argument here is that she seemingly forgets that sickness is bad – not just sucky, bad. It just doesn’t cause discomfort. It hurts the economy, through disabling and/or killing workers. In communicable cases, it endangers everyone in contact with the sick person. Etc., etc. Combatting individual illness is a public good – not just a helpful action for the patient in question. The government has a legitimate interest in combatting it, not for welfare purposes, but for the entire public’s economic and medical well-being.
I imagine that if every member of every indie rock band, ever, went to the same elementary school, this is what said school’s sing-alongs would look like:
Three members of The National.
Two of Feist‘s colleagues in Broken Social Scene.
A.C. Newman, fearless leader of The New Pornographers (he’s the redhead with the beard in the second row).
The husband-and-wife team from Mates of State.
Grizzly Bear in its entirety.
Via Pitchfork, members of the white-clad chorus and backing band include:
That’s, um, impressive.
The revealing of Sen. Larry Craig’s (R-ID) conviction for lewd behavior in a men’s bathroom is in some ways a more poetic form of justice than the unmasking of Mark Foley’s pederasty, given that Craig has a solidly anti-gay voting record, whereas Foley was of a more libertarian stripe.
But both cases raise an interesting question. The number of closeted Republicans in D.C., while certainly significant, can’t be particularly high either. The upper echelon of conservative Washington has to be small as it is, rendering 3-odd percent of that yet smaller. So Craig and Foley have to be a non-trivial chunk of the D.C. closeted Republican population. One could certainly surmise from this that illegal pick-up methods (e.g., soliciting pages online, cottaging) are inordinately popular among closeted Republicans.
The reason for this is obvious: being closeted closes off normal, public dating methods. And being a Republican yet furthers their paranoia about being outed, because political, in addition to social, costs are now in play. So while being closeted is bad to begin with, being a closeted Republican is just a recipe for not-particularly-savory dating methods.
Fredo’s gone. I remember having a conversation in mid-April in D.C. about how unbelievable it was that Gonzales had managed to stay in office that far, and how utterly he’s subverted the usual timeline for political scandals. All it took was a little more than four months from then for him to finally leave.
As for the replacement, I still think Larry Thompson is the likeliest option. He’d be harder for Democrats to oppose than Chertoff, who has all kinds of Katrina, torture, and detainment-related baggage. Sure, he’d probably be less partisan than Chertoff, but no less partisan than, say, Robert Gates. At this point, Bush doesn’t really have a lot of freedom with which to choose a nominee, and as tempted as he may be to appoint an far-right candidate and then politically blackmail Democrats into supporting him, he’ll surely remember how badly similar scare tactics failed in the ’06 election cycle. Moreover, whoever the replacement is will be in office for well under 18 months, tops, so who he turns out to be isn’t particularly critical, meaning that appointing a moderate wouldn’t set back Bush’s policy ambitions the way one would have in, say, 2005.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to regular readers that I’m psyched that Bob Kerrey looks like he’s going to be running for the Senate again. And it is, unfortunately, not a surprise either that many erstwhile progressives – like, say, the commenters to Nick Beaudrot’s post on this – aren’t too pleased with the development. So let me take this opportunity to remind people that Bob Kerrey voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (something even Wellstone couldn’t bring himself to do), was solidly in favor of abortion rights and gun control and solidly against the flag-burning amendment and school prayer, and ran for president on a single-payer plan. Yeah, he gets Iraq and Social Security wrong. But for a Senator from a red state, he was astoundingly progressive, and we should be glad that there’s a chance he’ll come back.
I really shouldn’t have listened to Arular immediately before hearing Kala. Because when compared against her debut, M.I.A.’s follow-up falls short in a number of ways. It’s less frenetic, less punchy, more gloomy, more cluttered.
But to leave things here would be to miss the point in a big way. Because if there’s one thing we know and love about M.I.A., it’s that she succeeds and fails on nobody’s terms but her own. And on Kala, she’s certainly working on her own terms. No one would have told her to do an electropop version of a Bollywood standard (“Jimmy”). No one would have told her to make a hip hop track using little more than steel drums and a screaming Indian girl (“Bird Flu”).
And yet she did both, resulting in, respectively, a flawless cover and the runaway frontrunner for the year’s best song. And she certainly doesn’t stop there. From “Boyz” to “Mango Pickle Down River” to “Paper Planes,” she’s pushing genre boundaries in new, unexpected, and brilliant ways. It’s certainly more challenging material than one finds on Arular, but it’s just as rewarding.
If Kala has one flaw, it’s that she doesn’t go out on her own turf enough. The “Roadrunner” interpolation on “Bamboo Banger” feels forced, as does “20 Dollar”‘s combination of the lyrics of “Where Is My Mind?” and the hook of “Blue Monday”. But these no more damage the album than a few silly skits did Arular.
I don’t know that Kala‘s the best album of the year. Arcade Fire took a big, unexpected leap forward on Neon Bible, and what I’ve heard of Battles’ debut is incredible. But Kala‘s certainly a contender, and well worth your time.