Scalia’s big death penalty argument implodes

The dissent of Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in a 1994 Texas death penalty case:

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. I feel…obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.

Fair enough. But why?

Twenty years have passed since this court declared that the death penalty must be imposed fairly and with reasonable consistency or not at all, and despite the effort of the states and courts to devise legal formulas and procedural rules to meet this…challenge, the death penalty remains fraught with arbitrariness, discrimination…and mistake…


…no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies… [...] I am more optimistic, though, that this court eventually will conclude that the effort to eliminate arbitrariness while preserving fairness ‘in the infliction of [death] is so plainly doomed to failure that it and the death penalty must be abandoned altogether.’

As usual Justice Antonin Scalia was more interested in taking on his colleagues than taking on the argument. He mocked the bleedingheart Blackmun with this:

Justice Blackmun begins his statement by describing with poignancy the death of a convicted murderer by lethal injection. He chooses, as the case in which to make that statement, one of the less brutal of the murders that regularly come before us, the murder of a man ripped by a bullet suddenly and unexpectedly, with no opportunity to prepare himself and his affairs, and left to bleed to death on the floor of a tavern. The death-by-injection which Justice Blackmun describes looks pretty desirable next to that. It looks even better next to some of the other cases currently before us [...] for example, the case of the 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”

So the dramatics of the argument between Blackmun and Scalia can be reduced to: ‘A flawed system cannot fairly apply a death penalty’ and ‘Homicidal maniacs are worse!’

We move ahead to September of last year. And to this stunning but little noticed bit of breaking news:

A North Carolina death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence on Tuesday was once held up by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as an example of someone who deserved to die….

“For example, the case of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat,” Scalia wrote in Callins v. Collins. “How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”

He was referring to Henry Lee McCollum, who at the time had already been on death row for 12 years. McCollum’s conviction was overturned on Tuesday when DNA evidence implicated another man in the case.

McCollum had been on death row for almost 30 years.

In giving short shrift to Blackmun’s legal argument and instead focusing on the horrors of homicide, Scalia set himself up for embarrassment. In utterly predictable fashion, the system found that McCollum 1.) had committed murder 2.) deserved to die. He was as much guilty of a horrible crime as any other innocent man – for example me, or you, or a contemptuous Supreme Court Justice.

Blackmun later responded to Scalia, writing of the flaws in the case as well as McCollum’s mental capacity.

“That our system of capital punishment would single out Buddy McCollum to die for this brutal crime only confirms my conclusion that the death penalty experiment has failed,” he wrote. “Our system of capital punishment simply does not accurately and consistently determine which defendants most ‘deserve’ to die.”

Now can the arguments over the death penalty begin to move forward? Of less importance: Can Scalia admit that Blackmun was ultimately right? Oh I certainly hope so. Otherwise I’d have to conclude the esteemed jurist is something of a hack.


A gold medal in Jenner hysteria

With Monday’s Vanity Fair introduction of née-Bruce Caitlyn Jenner, there came the predictable cicada-hissing of disapproval and bongo-smacking of gobs from America’s right-wing. It was clear from that moment that Jenner would lose many of her former fans and friends. But then, of course, when Superman grows boobs and puts on an evening gown some of us will take it personally. Leading the way on this fiasco, as he does with most existential threats, Rush Limbaugh made a solid case for the morals crowd to throw off any temptations of tolerance.

He…dismissed a conservative blog that wrote that Republicans should embrace Jenner as one of their own to seem more humane, saying that doing so would constitute falling into a liberal trap.

Perhaps you, Mr. or Mrs. America, don’t give a damn about this person. Maybe you think ‘As long as she promises not to raise capital gains taxes or behead journalists in the Middle East, why should I care?’ You silly fools.

Under this system, “conservatives and Republicans are the new weirdos, the new kooks,” the pundit said, “and that is part of the political objective here in normalizing all of this really marginal behavior.”

C’mon people, she’s a freak! And if you’re not willing to point her out and let loose the Body Snatcher shrieking, where will we be? [...our forefathers spent their lives clawing their way to the pinnacle of Finger-Pointing Normals, and you'd throw that away? Ahem.] To the fagbash!

The bracketed bit there may be less a direct quote of Limbaugh and more my reading his mind, but I stand by it. It’s clear that the emergence of a celebrity transgender Republican has unhinged the right-wingers.

You can bet that Canada’s National Post has noticed. The conservative rag found the perfect story to inoculate the swelling gender hysteria with a dose of nausea:

When he cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool,” a man who now calls himself One Hand Jason let everyone believe it was an accident.

But he had for months tried different means of cutting and crushing the limb that never quite felt like his own, training himself on first aid so he wouldn’t bleed to death, even practicing on animal parts sourced from a butcher…

People like Jason have been classified as ‘‘transabled’’ — feeling like imposters in their bodies, their arms and legs in full working order.

It’s called Body Integrity Identity Disorder, and it’s extremely rare. As far as cures for it, amputations are not prescribed. But for still-agitated conservatives, for whom the article was clearly intended, it was Caitlyn Jenner 2: I Hope You’re Happy Now.

Since when do we allow body mutilation as a substitute for fixing the mental issues?

Oh, when there is no objective standards and we live in a society where we reward victims – including those who find new ways to define victimhood and self-select for it.

Some of these people feel the need to cut off their penises, or gouge their eyes out. But what does modern American society do about it? It rewards them with the word “Transabled” in a Canadian news article. Frankly we’d all be better off letting Jeff Goldstein drag a few of these graspers into a darkened alley. That’d stop the whining toot suite, I bet.

Of course, only the politically popular feelings are to be celebrated and enforced. Try claiming to be recognized as a person of a different “race” because you feel like it, or demand respect for your religious feelings as a Jew or Christian.

Yeah, right.

What the hell, people? You’re allowed to be ‘disabled’ just by cutting your arms off? Real live Christians aren’t even allowed to slug Elton John impersonators! And they said that Lincoln ended slavery – this country has gone mad. And who would the liberals probably feel sorry for? The freak, of course.

Hello Rick Moran:

For once in my career as a writer, I really, really hope that this is some kind of parody because if not, the world has gone mad and insanity has become the norm.

Farewell my America. How I did love thee.

My congratulations to Profs Baril and Baldwin for not only their creativity in discovering this previously unknown sub-sub group of fakirs and charlatans, but also their balls in publishing about it.

One can imagine agitation by activists to give people the right to disable themselves while making it illegal to discriminate against the transabled worker. A whole body of law will be created to deal with this new human right. The UN will create an agency to make sure the transabled are protected. And before too long, we’ll have the first celebrity transabled person televising their transformation from able bodied to disabled.

Can’t wait.

Incidentally: Bring it on. Our world has trans-morphed into a maddening dystopia, hasn’t it? No one can quite figure out why “Transabled” is so awful, and there’s your proof. [hint: wanting to chop your leg off.] Joe Cunningham:

At times, it’s really hard to look at some of these trans-diagnoses on the Internet and not think “…Okay, really?” because it’s entirely possible that these people who pop up and say “My spleen is not mine!” are just attention-seeking crazy people. They don’t need news articles written about them. They need psychiatric care, and they need for an overly sensitive media to stop coddling them…

News article about you = love and affirmation. God knows why the Duggars are so uptight over the revelations of child molestation, they’re the biggest thing in media.

I normally try to be sensitive when it comes to trans issues, but transability is taking things way too far. We need to take a step back and figure out where the line is, because otherwise the inmates are going to be running a lot more than the asylum.

One day you people, you’ll see. You’ll nominate one of these freaks for president. And all your moonbat pity will sweep him into the White House. And when he walks into his first big press conference, he’ll pull a paring knife out of his pocket, cut off his balls and throw them on the floor. And then we’ll all say “I told you so.”


Rush Limbaugh accuses somebody else of being weird

Caitlyn Jenner. Of all things.

What the Great American Conservative will ultimately perceive as a threat, it is remarkable.

Limbaugh said on his radio show Tuesday that liberals are trying to “redefine normalcy” in an effort to stigmatize conservatives and that conservatives shouldn’t agree to their terms by accepting Caitlyn Jenner as a woman.

He likewise dismissed a conservative blog that wrote that Republicans should embrace Jenner as one of their own to seem more humane, saying that doing so would constitute falling into a liberal trap.

Let’s begin with the fact that Caitlyn is a conservative Republican married and divorced three times – just like Rush. We assume this is what radio guy would call “normalcy.” Caitlyn however was willing to admit she wanted more for herself and made a big change. And now she’s…happy.

This behavior is of course entirely freakish and unspeakable. The only saving grace here is that she’s pretty much a one-off (…among Olympic champions turned businessmen that conservatives have long worshiped). So the imminent threat to the country comes from somewhere else – the millions of Americans now willing to accept her as she is.

Under this system, “conservatives and Republicans are the new weirdos, the new kooks,” the pundit said, “and that is part of the political objective here in normalizing all of this really marginal behavior.”

Pardon me, but conservatives and Republicans have always been the kooks. The Southern racists, the pinch-faced wifebeaters, the blood-dripping warmongers, etc. Those are the facts, ma’am. So I appreciate this kind of cautionary argument emanating from their ranks: If you’re going to normalize the freaks, the freakbashers will end up being marginalized. Score: Rush Limbaugh 1, Human Logic 0.

“I mean, if less than 1 percent of the population is engaging in it, it’s marginalized behavior. It isn’t normal, no matter how you define it.”

Abnormal? Is that a fact? From what data I can gather, the number of Americans who have been married four times is…less than 1 percent. So if this is about weirdos who want to pretend they’re normal, take it up with Rush Limbaugh.


Republicans and Negro music

A bit of sixties history:

citizen councils and negro music

This was a flyer distributed by the Citizens Council of Greater New Orleans. These ‘Concerned Citizens Councils’ were the button-down equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan, more likely to get you fired from your job than burn a cross on your lawn. Shockingly, they still exist today.

As late as 1998 Republicans like Trent Lott and Bob Barr were still attending CCC meetings and talking conservative politics to their members. As late as 2010 Republican presidential candidate Haley Barbour was praising the good work a CCC did in his hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi.

By the way, yesterday marked the beginning of Black Music Month.

The event was called “A Republican Salute to Black Music Month” and, according to organizer Raynard Jackson, a black Republican consultant, was to include R&B legend Sam Moore (“Soul Man”), Marlon Jackson of the Jackson 5 and others…

Moore, Marlon Jackson and the others showed up. But among the “confirmed participants,” [Reince] Priebus was the sole man missing. And there was nobody from the RNC to take his place.

The chairman of the Republican Party was supposed to grace the event with his presence, but for some reason he missed. Maybe he wasn’t missing much.

Whatever the cause of the chairman’s absence, it would be unfair to say there was widespread disappointment, because attendance itself was not widespread. The organizers had warned of the “limited number of seats available to the general public,” but half of the 50-odd place settings in the room were unused. Rather than a Republican salute to black music, this was a limp handshake.

Even with members of Sam And Dave and the Jackson 5 on the panel, “A Republican Salute to Black Music Month” didn’t draw 30 members of the public. Too bad. I’m sure Sam Cooke fans would’ve have loved to hear this:

…music producer Carvin Haggins, offered the novel view that African Americans quit the Republican Party because of Watergate (and not, say, Barry Goldwater or the civil rights movement). The Democratic Party, he said, “is the slave master’s party.” He explained: “Instead of leaving my plantation and making it on your own, stay here and we’ll feed you and we’ll give you health care.”

Priebus (and the RNC in general) has been widely criticized for doing virtually nothing to integrate the Republican Party after all these long, white years. Still, the organizer of “A Republican Salute…” keeps the faith.

Raynard Jackson offered a defense, of sorts, of the absent chairman. “When I first met him I thought he was a chicken, but when I got to know him and I became friends with him I think he’s a pig now,” Jackson said. “For a chicken to lay eggs, that doesn’t mean anything. But when you ask a pig for bacon, that’s a total commitment. And see, most Republican chairmen have laid eggs in the black community. . . . He’s my pig. He’s made a total commitment.”


Republicans are some effed-up horndouches

…with a nod to Orin Kerr.

If I understand this correctly, President Clinton was impeached in 1998 for lying about a sexual affair he had with Monica Lewinsky. And the return-to-morals impeachment campaign in Congress was led by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who was having an affair with his personal aide Callista Bisek.

“I said to him, ‘Newt, we’ve been married a long time,’ and he said, ‘Yes, but you want me all to yourself. Callista doesn’t care what I do,’” Marianne Gingrich said in the clip released by ABC, describing the couple’s conversation near the end of their 18-year marriage…

“Oh, he was asking to have an open marriage and I refused,” she said.

Congressman Bob Livingston was tapped to replace the wayward Gingrich. But two days after the nomination Bob resigned because he’d been cheating on his wife.

Hours before Mr. Clinton was impeached for his efforts to cover up his affair with Ms. Lewinsky, Mr. Livingston, who had been chosen to succeed Mr. Gingrich, shocked the House by announcing he would leave Congress because of revelations of his own adulterous affairs…

Still, it was Mr. Livingston today who called for Mr. Clinton’s resignation from the House floor.

Ultimately Newt was replaced by Congressman Dennis Hastert. Denny just got indicted for banking violations resulting from a scheme to pay off a victim of his child molestation.

Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois between 1965 and 1981 before entering politics. Federal prosecutors indicted Hastert on Thursday for lying to the FBI about $3.5 million he agreed to pay to an undisclosed person to “cover up past misconduct.”

Bob Livingstone, incidentally, had been a Republican congressman from Louisiana. His replacement was David Vitter. Roll tape:

New allegations tie Sen. David Vitter to a high-priced brothel in his hometown, one day after he publicly apologized for his connection to an alleged prostitution ring in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, Vitter acknowledged being involved with the so-called D.C. Madam. A day later, new revelations linked him to a former madam in New Orleans and old allegations that he frequented a former prostitute resurfaced, further clouding his political future…

“As far as the girls coming out after seeing David, all they had was nice things to say. It wasn’t all about sex. In fact, he just wanted to have somebody listen to him, you know. And I said his wife must not be listening,” Maier said in an interview with The Associated Press.

And personal attacks? Let’s not forget Senator Larry Craig of Idaho.

Larry was arrested in 2007.

Four gay men, willing to put their names in print and whose allegations can’t be disproved, have come forward since news of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s guilty plea. They say they had sex with Craig or that he made a sexual advance or that he paid them unusual attention.

They are telling their stories now because they are offended by Craig’s denials, including his famous statement, “I am not gay, I never have been gay.”…

Craig, 62, says he was a victim of “profiling” when he was arrested June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in an adjoining stall in a men’s restroom.

And, of course, there’s always this guy.

Republican Mark Foley had supported many of President Clinton’s issues in Congress and up until that point had a cohesive working relationship with him. Once Foley discovered that Clinton had indeed lied to the American people, Congress and the world, Foley led the the cavalry towards his impeachment. Mark Foley was relentless in his pursuit to impeach Clinton. He saw President Bill Clinton’s behavior as “Despicable!” Mark Foley was all over the nightly news and talk radio calling for Clinton’s impeachment throughout the 16th District wherever there was an audience, and throughout the halls of Congress.

Mark Adam Foley. Here he is having a text-chat with an intern. A teenage male intern.

Maf54 (8:03:47 PM): what you wearing
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:04 PM): normal clothes
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:09 PM): tshirt and shorts
Maf54 (8:04:17 PM): um so a big buldge
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:35 PM): ya
Maf54 (8:04:45 PM): um
Maf54 (8:04:58 PM): love to slip them off of you
Xxxxxxxxx (8:05:08 PM): haha
Maf54 (8:05:53 PM): and gram the one eyed snake
Maf54 (8:06:13 PM): grab
Xxxxxxxxx (8:06:53 PM): not tonight…dont get to excited
Maf54 (8:07:12 PM): well your hard
Xxxxxxxxx (8:07:45 PM): that is true
Maf54 (8:08:03 PM): and a little horny
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:11 PM): and also tru
Maf54 (8:08:31 PM): get a ruler and measure it for me
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:38 PM): ive already told you that
Maf54 (8:08:47 PM): tell me again
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:49 PM): 7 and 1/2
Maf54 (8:09:04 PM): ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Maf54 (8:09:08 PM): beautiful
Xxxxxxxxx (8:09:38 PM): lol
Maf54 (8:09:44 PM): thats a great size
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:00 PM): thank you
Maf54 (8:10:22 PM): still stiff
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:28 PM): ya
Maf54 (8:10:40 PM): take it out
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:54 PM): brb…my mom is yelling

MOOOMMM (…hold on…) I’M TALKING TO A FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN. Foley was chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, and wtf? srsly.


Libertarians: Probe her body for a fetus, not mine for pot

Reading Scott Walker’s defense of his government mandated pre-abortion ultrasounds [they're “a cool thing”], I was struck again by the horrible manipulation involved. Who do these Walker people think they are? Why do they think they can do this to women?

And then I thought, “Where the hell have the Libertarians been?” You’d think the Unfettered Liberty squad would be apoplectic over government mandated trans-organ anything, and the probing of all human orifices. You’d think the Fonzies of Freedom would be out riding Harleys in great trans-continental packs protesting the state violating people’s bodies and taking pictures of their innards.

You would be wrong.

If you have a strong disregard for your own health and safety, you are free to express it in all sorts of ways. You can smoke cigarettes. You can gorge on fast food five times a day. You can go live among bears in Alaska.

You can stagger through the worst part of town at 2 a.m. You can become a trapeze artist. You can join the Marine Corps. But if federal regulators get their way, you will not be able to ride a motorcycle without a helmet.

But let’s first start with an authentic Libertarian issue: Helmets.

…in three states—Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire—all riders are free to feel the sun on their scalps and the wind in their hair.

This small zone of personal autonomy causes great annoyance at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a federal agency. Last week, it urged that “everyone aboard a motorcycle be required to wear a helmet.”

The same old song. Government shouldn’t encroach upon my freedom.

Said NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart, “It’s a public health issue.”

Oh, no, it’s not. A public health issue arises when masses of people are exposed to illness or injury by dangers beyond their control—contaminated water, sooty air, natural disaster, marauding bands of hyenas—or when I get a serious disease that I may pass on to you against your will…

But riding a motorcycle without a cranial cushion poses no danger to anyone except the rider. Skull fractures are not contagious.

It doesn’t matter a bit that a helmet will save a person’s life. It doesn’t matter that helmets will save the taxpayers millions of dollars in systemic healthcare expenses. What matters is that placing a confining thing over one’s head greatly sucks. Ever tried it? Okay.

Given that, you can imagine how strongly the Fonzies feel about this: Big Brother cramming a doctor’s wand up one of their wazoos. Ask Matt Welch. It’s so awful, he can barely stand to hear it…

I was hoping to make it through life without hearing television commentators repeatedly utter the word transvaginal. Yet that intimate territory is where the country headed in February, and it is where we will increasingly return as long as the government keeps assuming a greater role in our private lives…

Libertarians have their values stomped on by governments every day. My (high) taxes in Washington, D.C., are helping to pay hundreds of millions in debt service for a baseball stadium I fervently believe should not have received a drop in public financing. My local city council members—who work part time, mind you, and often maintain second jobs—receive $125,000 from taxpayers each year, a pay rate second only to the loot commanded by the inept legislators of the last city I lived in, Los Angeles. And the criminal code is a festival of offensive-to-me-value judgments, prohibiting actions I consider perfectly moral and proper, such as traveling to Cuba, smoking marijuana, or paying money to illegal immigrants.

…a mandated medical probe, of course that’s bad. But you know I can’t even smoke pot! And they won’t let me go to Cuba! How much longer must we tolerate totalitarianism? A nuanced take. Here’s another one, A. Barton Hinkle:

Last week the health committee of the Indiana Senate approved a bill to require not one transvaginal ultrasound, but two – one before the abortion, and one afterward – for medical, rather than surgical, abortions…

Perhaps some enterprising lawmaker in another state will require pregnant women seeking abortions to write letters to their unborn children. We eventually might even get around to requiring scarlet letters, too.

This brings up a much broader problem in American politics: Call it the auctioneer effect. Having approved a new law or program to address a circumstance in one year, politicians confront a dilemma in subsequent years: What next? Often – almost always – the problem does not disappear. It wouldn’t do to conclude that, since previous laws and programs have failed, perhaps the problem lies beyond government’s ability to solve.

Well, I understand why the states force women to undergo ultrasounds [abortions yuck]. But then for how much longer? At some point won’t they have to give it up? Some day they’ll have to admit abortion is too difficult a problem to solve via radiating wands and genital probes. As always, the limits of government [sigh].

You’d think the Sovereigns of Self-Interest would grasp the problem of being self-violated. But they don’t at all, or at least none of the ones I could find at did. Speaking of which, get a load of this:

Why Is That Cop’s Finger in Your Butt?
The war on drugs now features roadside sexual assaults.

Last month the Texas House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that requires police officers to obtain a warrant before probing the anuses and vaginas of motorists during traffic stops…

The fact that the bill was deemed necessary speaks volumes about the way the war on drugs has eroded our Fourth Amendment rights and encouraged cops to inflict outrageous indignities on people they suspect of violating pharmacological taboos.

Well now this is very different. We’re no longer talking about women, and medical procedures. Now we’re talking about men, and the way they exercise their personal liberties. This is a frankly serious issue: The God-given right to smoke pot in your car…

That may be hard to believe, but it is also hard to believe that six troopers in three separate traffic stops thought it was reasonable to explore those private areas on the off chance that there might be some pot there.

With this egregious behavior the government isn’t trying to solve any of society’s problems. No, not any more. They’ve just become the morals police. Treating recreational marijuana users like jailbait, they’re nothing but a bunch of brownshirted dragoons bent on oppressing free men of good will. And let’s be honest – anything resembling a roadside anal-probing amounts to “sexual assault.”

Such judgments can be understood only in the context of a prohibitionist mentality that sees bits of dried vegetable matter as a grave threat to public order.

But what if the bad actors aren’t just a few cops, but entire American states? And what sort of “threat to the public order” is abortion, incidentally? If Libertarians have any essential beliefs or values, it’s not clear what they are.


Scott Walker: Say ‘cheese’ ladies

Scott Walker gets coverage in Salon.

Scott Walker: Women should be forced to have transvaginal ultrasounds because they are “a cool thing”

The Wisconsin governor said a procedure that involves being probed with a 10-inch rod is “lovely”…

Silver-tongued devil, you say.

“Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

Wisconsin’s Great Communicator, eh? So will women voters change their minds about this “cool thing”? Will they perhaps give mandatory ultrasounds another chance? Will many of them now choose to lie back and get probed by the greasy wand of Scott Walker’s Big Government? Remember: Until the Governor mentioned it, they didn’t know they could keep iPhone images of their aborted fetuses.

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea…”

What, crazy? No, it’s heartwarming.


Art Garfunkle, narcissist

Art Garfunkle is 73 years old.

“Will I do another tour with Paul? Well, that’s quite do-able. When we get together, with his guitar, it’s a delight to both of our ears. A little bubble comes over us and it seems effortless. We blend. So, as far as this half is concerned, I would say, ‘Why not, while we’re still alive?’

“But I’ve been in that same place for decades. This is where I was in 1971.”

He then seems to address not me but his old friend. “How can you walk away from this lucky place on top of the world, Paul? What’s going on with you, you idiot? How could you let that go, jerk?”

Art still hasn’t noticed how “lucky” Paul has been over the last 45 years. I’ve written before about famous people who happen to be narcissists – Newt Gingrich, for one. And by ‘narcissist’ I don’t mean a person who is arrogant, I mean somebody with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The real deal. My father was one. Art Garfunkle appears to be one.

Actually, another question strikes me. I speculate about whether Paul Simon might have a Napoleon complex. Is there a height thing there, between them?

“I think you’re on to something. I would say so, yes.”

He adds that at school he felt sorry for Paul because of his height, and he offered him love and friendship as a compensation. “And that compensation gesture has created a monster. End of interview.”

Right. Though he was but a 13 year-old schoolboy, Art took pity upon his misfit pal and made him a musical genius. But what did he get for his troubles? Millions upon million of dollars, of course, and fame, as well as glory, eye-popping mansions and a royal life of ease. Sure, all of that – but when did Paul ever say ‘Thank You’ for the melodies and words that Art Garfunkle bestowed upon him? Did he ever mention it was Art’s middle-school mercy that made his career? Or did he merely pretend it was all his own hard work? It’s as if the real genius, the towering tween – bitter and careerless, now sixty years on – had nothing to do with it. Dear.


Maureen Dowd on Uber. The Furies breathing down your neck.

Maureen Dowd and Uber. Maureen Dowd on Uber. Maureen Dowd in an Uber. Maureen around town in an Uber. Maureen thinking about Uber. Maureen writing about Uber. Fuck me.

Even in the land of movie stars, you could feel like a movie star when your Uber chauffeur rolled up. Standing in front of the Sunset Tower Hotel, I tapped my Uber app and saw five little cars swarming around my location.

The guy next door – pardonne moi, les petites sans importance – the chauffeur, he pulls up before her and vaults out of his Hyundai with a Panavision camera on his shoulder and a press gaggle in tow. And everybody knows everything about Maureen and can’t stop asking pointed personal questions because the Hollywood! No wait – the internet! Whatever mon readers, what a berserk freewheelin’ world it is, unspooling right before your pot-dabbling correspondent’s eyes. One of these Google Instagram webdrivers could pull out a samurai sword – really!

“Do you know why no one wanted to pick you up?” he asked. “Because you have a low rating.”

(Uber drivers see your rating once they accept the request and then can cancel.)

I was shocked. Blinded by the wondrous handiness of Uber, I had missed the fact that while I got to rate them, they got to rate me back.

Bumbling! Humility! How could you not love her?


Hello darkness, my old friend

Hello Rudy.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me.”

Hello Fox News.

The new poll also finds the numbers saying Obama is patriotic, honest or a strong leader have all declined in the past few years.

More Americans feel they love the United States than think Obama does: 83 percent think the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. Just 64 percent believe Obama feels the same way.

Hello Twitter.

Hello Mr. President.

No doubt, this is the greatest country in the world.


James Dean was never this crazy

Law-writin’ guy Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker, on the President’s latest future failure: “Obama’s Game of Chicken with the Supreme Court.”

Sometime next month, the Supreme Court will decide King v. Burwell, and the conventional wisdom about the stakes in the case appears to have shifted.

By the title you’d think the African Usurper and the Catholic Diocese Of East Virginia were careening at each other in a couple of ’55 Bel Airs. But no, the Republican effort to strip millions of their health insurance isn’t so safe, or fair, a game. Toobin breezes by the destitute cancer patients and insulin-starved diabetics and goes right to the problem: The conventional wisdom is wrong, and everybody will blame Obama for everything.

…that’s the theory: millions will suddenly be uninsured, and will blame Republicans. As Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, put it recently, “I don’t think they will [win the case]. If they do, that’s a problem that the Republicans have.”

No, it’s not. If the Obama Administration loses in the Supreme Court, the political pain will fall almost exclusively on the President and his Party. To paraphrase Colin Powell and the Pottery Barn rule, President Obama will have broken health care, so he owns it. …if millions lose insurance, they will hold it against Obamacare, and against Obama.

Yes that’s all un-well and good, and utterly typical. People are selfish and petty, we know. But where does this game of “chicken” come in? In what way is the President playing life-or-death with the Supreme Court?

Better than anyone, Administration officials know the scale of the problems that would be created by a loss in the Supreme Court. Advertising this possibility makes sense as a litigation strategy; Obama officials don’t want to make it easy for the Supreme Court to rule against them.

Advertising this possibility might make sense as a “reality” strategy, too. Untimely and ultimately life-threatening reversals can bring on anxiety, and stress – even beyond the law or blogging in the New Yorker! Perhaps some of us should be prepared. But let’s ignore the trivial and play along with Jeffrey, shall we? So…?

In testimony before Congress and elsewhere, Sylvia Burwell, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (and the defendant in the case), said that the Administration has no contingency plan for an adverse ruling in the Supreme Court. But playing chicken with the Justices only works if it works. If the Supreme Court strikes down the subsidies, the Administration will also have to answer for why it didn’t prepare for this possibility.

Obama is playing with fire. Instead of conjuring up a second Affordability Care Act, he’s daring the Supreme Court to strike down the first one. The goodwill (and…ease) with which he passed the original law begs for another, but for some reason he’s just not up to the task. Tsk, tsk. Someone could die playing a game like this.


Whatever you say, Toots

The New York Post suggests to us something strange and surprising yet oddly liberating. To wit: Never mind what they tell you, women don’t really like modern life. The remarkable truth is your lady friends would rather go back to the days when they were something like domesticated pets.

Critics have consistently lauded [Mad Men], not just for its entertainment value but also for exposing the dark underbelly of a prosperous, conservative era. Yet I can’t help but wonder if in some ways life wasn’t easier back then — especially for single, marriage-minded women.

Hang on, Heather will get to it. There’s a massive multi-modal Kinsey-esque effort to be divulged here, with hundreds of thousands of women queried over millions of hours in research facilities…

New York City career women in their 30s and 40s told me this week that in some ways life seemed easier back then for single women, and love was easier to find during our mothers’ day than it is now.

Or, perhaps. Heather just talked to two of her friends.

“It’s like we’ve become this commodity where men can pick out what they want whenever they want,” said Alicia, 37, who works in advertising and lives downtown.

Says Ellie, 42, a student on Manhattan’s East Side who used to work in publishing, “Technology is supposed to bring people closer, but especially in the context of dating it pushes people further apart. It used to be a guy had to call and leave a message and you called him back and you made a date.”

And there’s your data set. Taking Ellie into account (and Alicia too – don’t forget her) we calculate the p-level for “Today’s males are MEN” to be, hmmm, less than 5%. This is some good news for

…online dating sites and “hookup culture” — or decreased stigma around no-strings-attached sex between strangers — means that immature men’s playground is no longer just the halls of their office buildings. It’s the entire city.

So the Big Apple has become a sexual kindergarten. You and your pals would prefer to cell-phone or text women whenever you please (or not at all), and Will Geer wants to punch you in the face. Confronted with the chivalry of Don Draper, modern ‘man’ is sorrowfully exposed.

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