December 24, 2005

Mr. Kos grows tired of the Bay Area real estate market, and a conservative attempts to gloat:

Attention Markos Moulitsas Zúniga: did it ever occur to many in Blue state America that Houston (that doesn't have zoning) is a lot more affordable than let's say Berkeley, California. Also, Houston residents don't have a state income tax that they are paying. It appears Kos can't afford the very values he promotes, which is regulation of markets which leads to artifically high real estate prices.
Or, to put it another way, the "values he promotes" enable ordinary people to attain wealth through home ownership, while living in a diverse community that values the environment, stable growth, a low crime rate, etc.

Although it is unfortunate that Kos missed the boat by a few years when it comes to buying a house in the Bay Area, the policies that enabled the value of homes to soar also make it a very desirable place to live, work, and raise a family. The Berkeley Hills are dotted with the homes of people who never made a huge income, but through happenstance, hard work, and good fortune, have become wealthy, all because they bought homes in a city that followed progressive policies that made the community desirable for people who had money to live in. And in the fullness of time, once this blogging thing starts to become big, someone as ambitious and entrepreneurial as Kos will also be able to buy a share of the Blue State dream as well.

Of course, Houston is a lot more "affordable" than Berkeley, California. So is the Aceh Peninsula, the Sunni Triangle, and the Gulf Coast. That's the great thing about the Third World: housing bargains are always available for people with a few dollars to spend, as long as you don't care about that whole "quality of life" thing. [link via Instapundit]

December 23, 2005

A thought on last night's Blue State v. Red State showdown (an appetizer to hold us until the Big One on January 4), inspired by the words of a Pulitzer Prize-winning professor:

The University of California during my student and faculty years has been denounced for godlessness, debauchery, freethinking, subversion, coddling communists and radicals, and exposing students to radical and unconventional ideas.

Whenever I hear those charges made, I shout, "Go Bears!"

--Prof. Leon Litwack

December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas, Building & Loan !!! Among the presents Congress was able to sneak under our collective Festivus Pole yesterday is a long overdue hike in the tax filing fee for individual bankruptcies. I say overdue, since it's been less than nine weeks since the last hike went into effect. Fortunately, Congress refused to touch the filing fee for corporate bankruptcies, which will remain at the same level.
A provocative (and potentially defamatory) profile of Marcos Moulitsas, the self-admitted "asshole" proprietor of the Daily Kos blog. The comparison of Kos with Bill James is an apt one, although I think the Old Guard he's challenging isn't the punditocracy (that battle is being fought by the likes of Atrios, Kevin Drum, Steve Gilliard, et al.) , but the politocrats within the Democratic Party, as well as the adherents to the increasingly obsolete "grassroots" model used by progressives since the 1960's. Kos treats political advocacy as something more than a hobby to be pursued every election night, and the country owes him a debt of gratitude for the unexpected partisan feistiness of the Democratic Party, only a year after one of its most devastating losses.

December 21, 2005

Of all the apologias for the rather innovative approach the Bush Administration has apparently taken to the constitution, the one that rankles me the most is the claim that we have to condone the policy, since we haven't been hit by a terrorist attack in five years. It was made by the Vice President yesterday, and has been seconded by certain bloggers and pundits.

It rankles, because it both cheapens the events of September 11, 2001, and is almost certainly wrong. As I pointed out in February, it says nothing that we have not been hit by an attack in x-number of years. Prior to 9/11, we had not been hit by a major (or for that matter, a minor) terrorist attack in six years, and that wasn't even an Islamoterrorist attack; for that, you have to back eight years before 9/11. Since many of the people with the skill, background, motivation and patience to plan such a spectacular attack were, in fact, killed on 9/11, and since Al Qaeda's M.O. has favored spectacular, cataclysmic attacks overseas, as opposed to the suicide bomber-in-the-shopping mall favored by other thugs in the Middle East, it shouldn't surprise anyone that we haven't seen a repeat since then.

But what especially bothers me is the viewpoint that because we haven't had an attack, that somehow means we should view the last five years as an unqualified success in battling terrorism. For one thing, two of our allies, Spain and Great Britain, have been hit since 2001 by the minions of Osama, not to mention the many victims of the Intifada in Israel. For those who give allegiance to OBL, blowing up the Tube is just as good as hitting a subway car in New York City. All Westerners look alike.

Presuming it to be that our national objective is to crush the use of terror as a political tool used by our adversaries, no matter where it sticks its head (and considering the billions we're spending on adventures in the Middle East, I think that presumption is shared by the Neocons as well), this isn't supposed to be a war we can claim to be winning just because the Lower 48 hasn't been hit recently. What Cheney is admitting when he makes this argument is that the "War on Terror" is little more than a rhetorical gimmick for domestic consumption. It is akin to FDR claiming WWII as a success in May, 1944, just because Pearl Harbor hadn't been repeated.

December 20, 2005

KOBE: The greatest basketball player in the world scored 62 points 29 minutes !!!

December 18, 2005

Seeing as how there's nothing more pathetic than a blogger campaigning for an award, I think it's fair to ask some obvious questions:

1. Why name the award for best "lefty" blogger after someone who could only fairly be described as the third or fourth greatest southpaw pitcher in history? Wouldn't the "Grove" be more apt? The "Spahn"? The "Big Unit"? Tying their award to a famous L.A. athlete might have been done to draw from the prestige of this region in the blogosphere, in much the same way that a DVD rental store in Flyover Country might use a picture of Tom Cruise or John Wayne in the store window. But still, couldn't they find a better local athlete?

2. While pondering the above, do the people who run the awards have the permission of Sandy Koufax to use his name and likeness? Frankly, not receiving clearance to run photos of a public figure is pretty common in the blogosphere (I don't, for example), but this seems to be a few degrees beyond that. Is there any reason to believe that Koufax is a progressive in real life? If I had to guess, he probably isn't...most athletes hew as far to the right as Hollywood actors do to the left, and are as equally out of touch. But he's also famous (if that's the right word) for being very private. His sexual preference has always been the most-whispered about in all of sports, and his only recent venture into the headlines came when he took on the Murdoch publishing empire over some slimy allegations concerning same in the New York Post two years ago. Although I could be wrong, I would be surprised if he had given his permission.

3. Shouldn't there be some quality control? These particular awards, like most blogging awards, are popularity contests. Blogs that draw a lot of traffic are more likely to win. To that end, the Koufax Awards have more in common with the People's Choice Awards then, lets say, the NY Film Critics Association. And although there are some blogs that attract tons of eyeballs that coincidentally happen to be good (Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum, of course, and especially Kos), most are still living whatever rep they developed three or four years ago, and win these awards now not because they are good, but because it would be too impolite to suggest otherwise.

Another problem such awards have to deal with is the truism that extremism and rhetorical excess seem to be an accurate barometer of popularity in the blogosphere, no matter the ideology. Since that threatens to poison the well for those bloggers who, for example, don't believe that leaking the name of a CIA agent necessarily makes one a traitor, or that Rudolph Giuliani isn't the American version of Reynard Heydrich, it would help to have some way of wheat from the chaff, the assholes from the uber-pricks, as it were.

Historically, progressivism has always been a minority ideology, so any chance of electoral success depends on forming tactical alliances with factions that do not support many of our core principles. Anything that violates our version of the Eleventh Commandment, such as a high-profile blogger resorting to personal attacks against those he disagrees with, is counterproductive to the end of achieving power to enact those ends. If we're ultimately going to start winning elections (that is, actually getting more votes than the other guys, and not simply whining that Karl Rove and Diebold foiled us again), our blogs need to develop an indoor voice.

Anyways, go vote for Crooks and Liars and The Left Coaster for any and all relevant categories.