Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Opinionator

August 29, 2007, 4:59 pm
Harriet Miers, the Sequel
By Chris Suellentrop
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Harriet Miers, the next attorney general? Kevin Shay, guest-blogging for Daniel Radosh at Radosh’s blog, says Miers’s nomination is foreordained: “I mean, it works on so many levels,” Shay, a former Web editor for McSweeney’s, writes. “A) It passes the SPM test: Can you imagine a Stupider Possible Move? I didn’t think so. That’s always been a reliable predictor of this administration’s actions. B) It’s a great way to spit in the face of the hardcore 27% of voters who still inexplicably support you. C) She’s owed.”

Was “The Simpsons Movie” actually a searing family drama? Ezra Klein explains:

It was a film during which the lead female character realized her husband was a senseless brute who would always put his happiness before her own, and where her son realized the father was an abusive drunk who was continually denying him the emotional support and family environment he needed. And unlike in most [Simpsons] episodes, both characters recognized these truths fully, and abandoned Homer to begin new lives elsewhere. And shortly thereafter, both took him back, tossing away their opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment despite there being no evidence of an enduring change in their tormentor’s psyche. It was a tremendous demonstration of the self-destructive mentality of the abused, and in that, quite unsettling.
Annals of things you can’t make up: The American Prospect’s Garance Franke-Ruta, writing on her personal blog, TheGarance.com, digs through the case history of sexual solicitation in public restrooms. Her best discovery is the name of an Idaho decision that “ruled that (solo) masturbation within an enclosed restroom stall was constitutionally protected behavior as the individual within the stall had a reasonable expectation of privacy within the stall.” The case: State v. Limberhand.

As commenter Matt Zeitlin observes in the post’s discussion thread, “Guys, let’s not lose sight of what’s important here, the dude’s name was Limberhand! Maybe it’s the 17 year old boy in me, but how can everyone not find this [gut-bustingly] hilarious?”

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August 29, 2007, 12:18 pm
Louisiana Calling
By Chris Suellentrop
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On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrinia, the editorial page of The New Orleans Times-Picayune headlines its lead editorial, “Treat us fairly, Mr. President.”

“Nobody wants to have to compete for disaster relief,” the editorial begins. “But that is what Louisianians have had to do in the two years since Hurricane Katrina struck.” It continues:

Despite massive destruction caused by the failure of the federal government’s levees during Katrina, despite the torment caused by FEMA’s slow response to the disaster, despite being hit by a second powerful hurricane less than a month later, Louisiana has had to plead to be treated fairly by our leaders in Washington.

“Louisiana’s losses were dramatically higher than any other state’s and thus deserving of greater compensation,” the editorial later adds. “In reality, Mississippi has gotten a larger share of federal aid.” It explains:

Louisiana had three times more damaged homes and seven times more severely damaged homes than Mississippi. Universities in this state had three times as many students displaced and had four times the losses of Mississippi’s campuses. Louisiana fisheries suffered almost 75 percent of the damage done by Katrina, and our hospitals lost 97 percent of the hospital beds closed by the storm.

Yet in every case, Mississippi ended up with a disproportionate share of aid. Housing grants, for instance: Mississippi got $5.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant money for its 61,000 damaged homes. Louisiana, with 204,000 damaged homes, got $10.4 billion. If the aid were given out proportionately, this state would have gotten twice that much.

“All Louisiana wants is to be treated fairly. But that hasn’t happened,” the editorial later adds. It also says, “The people of Louisiana are no less deserving of disaster aid because their representatives are newer to Congress or because some of the people we trusted to lead us turned out to be scoundrels.”

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August 29, 2007, 9:22 am
No Private Idaho
By Chris Suellentrop
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In its second editorial about Sen. Larry Craig, the Idaho Statesman editorial page remains unsatisfied with Craig’s explanation of what exactly happened in that men’s room: “Craig shed little new light Tuesday on his arrest and guilty plea; he did not provide Idahoans with the full account they deserve.”

Noting Craig’s “rhetoric and record on social and gay-rights issues,” the editorial says that “Craig’s political mess is one of his own making.” It continues:

And the least of Craig’s problems may be with the gay-rights activists who have taken to the blogosphere to call him a hypocrite. A bigger problem may be with the Idaho social conservatives who have been among the quickest to call for his resignation.

And when politicians try to turn social and sexual issues into fair political game, they invite scrutiny of their behavior. Craig did not establish these rules of political engagement, but he operated under

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