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This is really fucked up:
Louisiana, like most states, bars prostitution. But the state also has a 206-year-old law that carries special penalties for those charged with soliciting oral or anal sex — the so-called Crime Against Nature statute. Those convicted under the C.A.N. law can be required to register as sex offenders. Yesterday, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit in New Orleans, claiming the law unconstitutionally discriminates against gays and others who engage in the targeted acts. (Here’s a report on the suit from the New Orleans Times-Picayune and here’s a copy of the complaint.) […] At a news conference in New Orleans, attorneys for the plaintiffs said the registration requirement erects “insurmountable barriers” to people who are trying to restart their lives, the Times-Picayune reports. In New Orleans, according to the paper, nearly 40 percent of the people registered as sex offenders are on the registry because of a crime against nature conviction. Louisiana is the only state where people convicted of selling their bodies can be required to register as a sex offender, the Times-Picayune reports, citing the lawsuit.
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Stupidity

Good point.

Rich Lowry wrote a column last week about Jeb Bush that actually wasn’t that bad. Some points were right, some were wrong, but all in all it seemed like an honest attempt to figure out something about the world as it is. Having gotten that out of his system, he proceeds to unload some aggressively stupid commentary in this week’s installment (via FrumForum, an indispensable culler of wingnuttery and, alternately, its antidote as well). Here’s Rich Lowry on “Our Reactionary President” (no joke, that’s literally the title):
The man from “hope and change” wants, to the extent he can, to perpetuate the bankrupt and bankrupting structures of 20th-century government. His political genius turns out to be throwing a patina of daring over what is only an amped-up version of the status quo. Both his supporters and his critics hype him as something new under the sun, when nearly everything he does represents the brackish backwash of 1970s liberalism.
Now, I’m just a proggy blogger, so maybe I missed it. But I thought that “an amped-up version of the status quo” was more or less the definition of conservatism. Indeed, Andrew Sullivan has pointed out that Obama is actually conservative in many ways, if you construe conservatism as preserving institutions and practices that work and are worth saving. Which is what it is, really, but don’t tell Lowry. Now, you might ask, what other examples of Obama’s reactionary nature are in the piece? Is he trying to bring back the gold standard? Reopen the 1970s-vintage debate on comparative worth? Bring back the horseless carriage? Of course not, it turns out he’s a reactionary for proposing a bunch of stuff conservatives dislike:
We had already tried a stimulus and deficit spending — Obama gave us more of both. We already had subsidies to green energy — Obama created more. We already were spending more than ever on education — Obama added more. We already had massive government health-care programs crowding out the private sector and tipping the federal government toward bankruptcy — Obama added yet another one. At a time when even some Democrats say spending has to be cut, when his own administration says that the debt is unsustainable, Obama’s budget stays resolutely anchored in the status quo
Apparently, “reactionary” means “incrementally following a progressive policy agenda,” which is a weird interpretation. Criticize the goals if you must, but seriously? And there’s the obligatory Wisconsin nonsense:
When the Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, proposes changes to put his state’s relationship with public-employee unions on a footing more appropriate to our straitened times, Obama instinctively sides with the unions, defending privileges dating from the mid and late 20th century.
Straitened times? What? I’m sort of at a loss here. Public sector unions have been around since the mid-20th century, so defending them is reactionary? Capitalism dates from the late 18th century. Seems like, if your criterion is the length that an institution has been around, you’re unwittingly implicating yourself in your own charge. And, once again, it is strange for conservatives to make the charge that you should ignore traditions and institutions because they’re old. What interests me is how this turns a common gripe on its ear. Over the years, I’ve heard a number of complaints from conservatives. One of the ones that often crops up is that they don’t like it when liberals claim that their agenda constitutes progress, and that anything conservatives want to do is automatically considered moving backward. Personally, I think that complaint is silly, just an issue of rhetoric. Of course liberals believe that their agenda is progress. Otherwise, why would they believe it? By the same token, it’s true that some conservative ideas have moved the country forward, like welfare reform, so a purely partisan take on the topic isn’t always reliable. But the interesting thing about this column is that Lowry does exactly that here. He identifies a Republican agenda with progress, and anyone who opposes it must be doing so out of reactionary zeal. The problem is that what he really identifies is that Obama is a reform-minded incrementalist who wants to promote the rights of labor and environmentalists. If one identifies reactionary as synonymous with “something that’s been done in the past” then literally everyone is a reactionary, and the charge is meaningless. One suspects that Lowry wrote this for the same reason that Jonah Goldberg wrote Liberal Fascism, as an attempt to try to defuse a frequent charge against the right. But the import of this is that Lowry seems threatened by the conservatism of President Obama’s disposition, perhaps because it’s so damn strange to him.
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Oh the dangers of democracy:

Not only does whackadoodle Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin want abortion classified as murder, according to his latest bill, the police will have to investigate all miscarriages to ensure that they were “spontaneous.” Here’s the complete bill. Via Daily Kos:

Franklin wants to create a Uterus Police to investigate miscarriages, and requires that any time a miscarriage occurs, whether in a hospital or without medical assistance, it must be reported and a fetal death certificate issued. If the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated. If the woman can’t tell how it happened, than those Uterus Police can ask family members and friends how it happened. Hospitals are required to keep records of anyone who has a spontaneous abortion and report it. Yup, we’ve been waiting for someone to suggest this–and Franklin has. Needless to say, there are no exceptions allowed. Not for rape victims. Not for incest victims. Not to save the life and health of the mother (the fetus must get equal care).

via Joe.My.God

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Got passed this link to Michael Lewis’s article on the housing collapse in Ireland. It’s good. Very good, in fact. What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that political correctness is increasingly becoming common when criticizing the financial and business classes, as this paragraph makes clear:
This time Kelly sent his piece to a newspaper with a far bigger circulation, the Irish Independent. The Independent’s editor wrote back to say he found the article offensive and wouldn’t publish it. Kelly next turned to The Sunday Business Post, but the editor there just sat on the piece. The journalists were following the bankers’ lead and conflating a positive outlook on real-estate prices with a love of country and a commitment to Team Ireland. (“They’d all use this same phrase, ‘You’re either for us or against us,’ ” says a prominent bank analyst in Dublin.) Kelly finally went back to The Irish Times, which ran his article in September 2007.
I can’t believe anyone would use Bush’s immortal phrase without irony ever again, but it looks like these bastards (and their American equivalents) were even bigger shitheaded failures than Dubya.
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Piling on to Lev’s post about Republicans and their obsession with hyperinflation and the gold standard, Tom Levenson spots a fun new bit of GOP currency kabuki in South Carolina:
Via TPM we learn that a legislator in the Palmetto State seeks to create a new South Carolina currency, just in case the US dollar blows up. It seems that, as the proposed legislation puts it, “many widely recognized experts predict the inevitable destruction of the Federal Reserve System’s currency through hyperinflation in the foreseeable future.” Those would be the experts who read this chart, no doubt.* Facing this inevitable disaster, isn’t it just simple prudence to plan ahead?  State Senator Lee Bright** (R.-Klanbucks) thinks so.  His bill seeks to set up a joint committee of the state legislature to study the issue and make recommendations by November, 2011.
What could go wrong?  Oh, maybe this:
That’s really what this is about, of course. Secession in salami slices, while retaining just enough connection to the loyal states of the Union to continue receiving their wingnut welfare from the rest of us.  (As of 2005, South Carolina received $1.35 in federal spending for every degenerate Federal Reserve dollar it sends north to the enemy capital.) And you know what?  I think that this should really happen.  Go for it, Palmetto (gold) Bugs!  Set up a currency—with this proviso.  Greenbacks cease to be legal tender.  You’d be on your own, scrabbling for the shiny bits as best you could.  No federal subsidies for you, neither.
“Secession in salami slices” = brilliant.
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Mexican Gold

Let's see what the wingnuts do with this!

In case any of you were under the impression that Paul Ryan is anything but a nutty kook, DougJ finds him backing the gold standard. He asks the question of when all the currency craziness on the right started, but that’s a fairly easy question so far as I can tell: it began with Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential bid, which featured these very positions. Before him, the only murmurs I ever heard about this stuff were from very fringe right-wingers. But within three years, it’s suddenly a mainstream Republican position! We’ve gone from the tax-based Keynesianism of Bush to something even more radical than Friedmanite monetarism, to something that could literally be called Hoovernomics! What a crazy world.

I think the problem with gold standard nostalgia is that, like people’s deceptive longings for “smaller government” while opposing almost nothing the government does (aside from foreign aid, a piddling expenditure in the grand spirit of things), it’s a cultural complaint wrapped up in a political argument. We’ve all seen a million polls showing that the public believes firmly in slashing spending, but when asked about specific cuts, nobody wants to cut anything. But the notion of “smaller government, like it was back before all this mess happened” will have a certain appeal to people who want to turn back the clock on society anyway. When you get down to it, very few people want to get rid of Medicare or the FDA. But there are a fair amount of people (let’s just call them the Republican base) who are very comfortable with the idea of going back to the social mores of, say the early 1900s. So, you have a scenario where a lot of people argue vociferously for smaller government when they’re really just unhappy with the directions modernity has taken. Or so goes the theory, anyway, but it does happen to fit the facts. The gold standard stuff is trickier to easily diagnose, but I suspect it’s growth has been driven on the right over the past few years by a deep mistrust of the financial system and how debt has been commodified and sold, as well as a sense that lavish spending by the government is going to lead to hyperinflation, and from there to Weimar Republic, and Hitler, of course! You can see it in the grilling Republicans gave Ben Bernanke on inflation the other day. Inflation is so low it’s hardly worth even worrying about, but Republicans are worried about it. They have their Glenn Beck-driven theories floating around in their heads! If only we could have some guarantee that our money won’t be worthless. Alas. That theory most definitely does not fit the facts, indeed, it’s a silly and hysterical one propagated by professional shriekers. But I can see how the notion of “backing up our currency” could take hold if you share the Beckian assumptions about things.

So, therefore, the Gold Standard is making a comeback. I don’t expect it to be long-lived, since it’s basically a populist, truthy reaction to the Wall Street collapse and the crummy economy. As an economic idea, it’s pure garbage. Paul Krugman has often written about how it constrained economic recovery efforts until Franklin Roosevelt finally ditched it (though remnants of it hung on until Nixon’s presidency). But if you should happen to be a proponent of this dubious theory, if you think a Gold Standard would somehow keep the economy running more smoothly, I would think the list of terrible panics and often nonexistent economic growth during the “sound money” era would at least make you wonder if it’s the silver bullet you’ve been promised. Also, this is a bit off the topic, I’ve often wondered why the business community doesn’t push harder for internationalist, Keynesian political candidates. I mean, the Chamber shilled for the stimulus package, but they also ran ads for Rand Paul, who is against regulation, but unless you consider that and taxes to be the only determinants of a good business environment it’s a poor choice. Isn’t it in business’s interest to have people with sensible policies on this stuff? They used to play this role–they were behind giving Eisenhower the Republican nomination over isolationist/”sound money” type Robert Taft–but I guess it’s yet another data point to show you that these days, businesses really don’t care about anything other than tax cuts and less regulations.

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I know that Gherald is a Ron Paul fan, and I admit that he seems like a well-intentioned and decent guy in many respects. But this is maybe the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard a political figure utter:
“Look, we are not doing such a good job being government these days,” Paul explained. “We make promises and we don’t know about the future.” “Would you consider opting out of the whole system under one condition?” Paul then asked, introducing his plan. “You pay 10% of your income, but you take care of yourself. Don’t asked the government for anything.”
Leaving aside the cryptic argument of the first two sentences–that make absolutely no sense whatsoever in the combination they’re in–this is just fucking nuts. What, does taking the deal mean you forfeit the ability to use sewage systems? Does that mean the police can’t help you when you’re getting mugged? What about national defense? I mean, maybe that’s what the 10% is for (though there’s not much ambiguity when he says the whole system), but this is so very, very stupid. It’s libertarianism taken to the N-th degree, and it’s insane. (No joke: I’m seriously wondering if the guy is starting to lose his marbles. These remarks read like someone about to have a stroke.) So, naturally, the response was that “the crowd of libertarian youth packing the CPAC hall for his speech went wild.” At this level, libertarianism goes from being a logical (if extreme, in my opinion) way of viewing the world to being something you have to turn off your brain to get into. Not unlike a Star Wars prequel (and I promise I’ll stop using that comparison). Sheesh.
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