Posted by Brad @ 5:35 pm on December 1st 2014

“It’s not black progress. It’s white progress.”

An amazing Chris Rock interview, who is literally one of my favorite thinkers in pop culture (and one of the top three standups of all time).

What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?

I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Well, that would be much more revealing.

Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

Posted by Brad @ 8:17 pm on August 19th 2014

Ballsy Quote of the Day

You may not agree completely with the protesters in Ferguson. You may find their tactics unhelpful or misguided. But you should recognize: they are the front lines in a long-overdue process of reversing this problem and slowly dragging the police back under community control.

—Freddie DeBoer

The context makes that less riseable than it sounds as I quoted it, but still. A ballsy thing to say.

Posted by Brad @ 1:03 pm on June 26th 2014

Quote of the Day

“The majority justifies those atextual results on an adverse-possession theory of executive authority: Presidents have long claimed the powers in question, and the Senate has not disputed those claims with sufficient vigor, so the Court should not “upset the compromises and working arrangements that the elected branches of Government them­selves have reached.”

Justice Scalia

Posted by Brad @ 10:13 am on June 16th 2014

Quote of the Day

On taking military action to help shore up the Makali government in Iraq in the face of an increasingly genocidal ISIS threatening to take over or rend the country apart.

“You’d be fighting for a dysfunctional, unrepresentative, authoritarian government. There’s no reason on earth that I know of that we would ever sacrifice a single American life for that.”

Hillary Clinton

Posted by Brad @ 1:28 pm on June 11th 2014

Quote of the Day

“That [stoning gay people to death] goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”


Posted by Brad @ 5:49 pm on May 12th 2014

Quote of the Day

“When I give talks about interrogations and torture, people always ask me why I have a problem with it. I understand – I was all for torture right after 9/11. I would have tortured the hijackers myself if they were still alive, and if I had been able to find them. I wasn’t thinking very rationally. Then I started learning about terrorism and I met the people who had been tortured, and I realized how wrong I was – and naïve. Believing in torture means you aren’t looking at the facts on the ground – you are just believing in some kind of fantasy about how to fix the world.”

– Tara McKelvey, author of Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War.

Yup. There are of course two levels on which to have the torture debate. The first is the moral one – and it’s here that pro-torture advocates love to try and paint opponents as naive or living in fantasy-land.

So, just switch to the reality of torture – its use, its efficacy, its results. And it’s on that ground that I have, time and time again, found torture apologists to basically have the world boiled down to some weirdo macho movie with not only no understanding of actual on-the-ground realities but really no interest in them. It’s just an episode of 24. It’s funny, when I engage with die-hard torture apologists – the “hell yeah water board all of them” folks – they like to talk like they’re the ones who see the world for what it really is and are willing to make the tough calls. But pull back the curtain even a tiny bit, and their dedication to torture looks more like the attachment of a Justin Beiber fan. In other words, they are dedicated to and titillated by a certain vision of the world they have no experience with but love and cling to in an almost fanboy-ish way. I am struck by it almost every time.

Oh, and if you think I mean just casual observers in that, click through the hyperlinks. I mean senior military commanders and policy makers just as surely.

Posted by Brad @ 6:45 pm on October 31st 2013

Quote of the Day

“You can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated.”

Mike Rogers, Chairman, House Intelligence Committee.

Posted by Brad @ 12:38 pm on August 20th 2013

Quote of the Day

A veteran intelligence official with decades of experience at various agencies identified to me what he sees as the real problem with the current NSA: “It’s increasingly become a culture of arrogance. They tell Congress what they want to tell them. Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein at the Intelligence Committees don’t know what they don’t know about the programs.”


It was Senator Wyden who famously asked Director of Intelligence James Clapper last March, before the Snowden revelations, whether the NSA collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” Clapper’s response was pretty clear: “No, Sir.” When pressed, Clapper amended his answer to “not wittingly.” He later told NBC News that he had given the “least untruthful” answer he could think of.


In 1999, then-senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote Secrecy: The American Experience, in which he analyzed the parallel growth of secrecy and bureaucracy in the U.S. “Secrecy is a form of regulation,” he warned. “At times, in the name of national security, secrecy has put that very security in harm’s way.” He observed that although secrecy is absolutely necessary for our protection, it all too often serves as the first refuge of incompetents or those drunk with arrogance. We should not give these groups the ability to cloak their operations — no matter how virtuous the goal.

Really, go read John Fund’s op-ed.

Posted by Brad @ 6:49 pm on August 2nd 2013

Quote of the Day

As part of a panel discussion including Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz, facing the Young Americans for Liberty membership (a group of basically college Ron Paul Republicans, headed by Jeff Frazee, a nice guy), the panelists were asked “what were you like when you guys were college-age like us?” Rand “Aqua Buddha” Paul gave the first answer.

“When I was in college, I was in the library every night, home in bed by 9. I never drank any beer or smoked any pot. …Oh, actually, no, no, that’s Mike Lee’s story! I’m stealing Mike Lee’s story!”

There were actually many candidates from Rand that session. One potentially interesting tidbit: Rand Paul claims he’s discussed potentially reforming Social Security by means-testing it with both Obama and Biden, and both agree with him but won’t say so publicly.

Posted by Brad @ 4:12 pm on March 7th 2013

13 Hours For One Word

Dear Senator Paul: It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.

Sincerely, Eric H. Holder, Jr.

That’s Eric Holder’s 43 word answer (well, one, really) to Rand Paul’s fundamental question. It is also the first time that an administration official has ever gone on record giving that answer, sans outs. And on record he is. Jay Carney, in today’s briefing, gave the same answer, on behalf of the President.

Paul will drop his opposition to Brennan, saying “I’m quite happy with the answer and I’m disappointed it took a month and a half and a root canal to get it.”

For all the possible squishiness that may arise, understanding this is not a legal precedent or regulation, and so on and so forth, let it be recorded that it was Republican Senator Rand Paul, of all people – an ophthalmologist from Bowling Green, Kentucky and son of a man often described as one of the fringiest House reps to ever serve in that body – and Senator Paul’s almost nostalgic use of legislative protest and using his small bully pulpit to draw attention in the court of public opinion, who was able to secure that “no” where the ACLU, the United States Congress, courts, a myriad of civil rights lawyers and journalists, and beyond, could not. And he did it with no real partisan or political backing, not as a response to any constituency, spear-heading a micro-movement that didn’t even really exist until he took the floor – which is how we used to understand leadership.

And, in securing that “no”, may even have helped, in a very real way, spur our government to foreclose on the possibility, where they had been inclined to leave it open. And it also represents, for the first time that I can recall since 911, a very practical civil liberties discussion ending in an outcome that presumably limits, rather than expands, government authority.

In the grand scheme of things this may be a small victory. But it is a victory. And it is an important one.

Thank you, Senator Paul.

Posted by Brad @ 1:03 pm on March 7th 2013

Quote of the Day

“Mr. President, what it comes down to is every American has the right to know when their government believes that it is allowed to kill them.”

—Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Why should anything more need to be said?

H/T Conor

Posted by Brad @ 11:09 am on February 15th 2013

Quote of the Day

“What I think is absolutely true is that it is not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we’re doing the right thing.”

Barack Obama, addressing concerns about his lack of transparency on national security issues last week

Posted by Brad @ 2:56 pm on February 8th 2013

Quote of the Day

The most central concern of the due process limit in the eighteenth century and earlier was surely that the king not have power to kill domestic opponents by labeling them enemies of the regime.

Posted by Brad @ 8:03 pm on February 7th 2013

Quote of the Day

“I think the American people would be quite pleased to know that we’ve been very disciplined and very judicious” and that the Obama administration only uses targeted killings “as a last resort.”

CIA Director nominee John Brennan

Posted by Brad @ 1:28 am on January 31st 2013

Quote of the Day

“I’ve heard a lot of conservatives say, ‘Hispanics are pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and they should be Republicans.’ That’s good. But you can’t go to someone’s house, knock on the door, and say: ‘I want to talk to you about all the things we agree on. While we talk, you won’t mind if Igor here grabs your grandmother, who’s 87 years old and has lived here forever, and drags her across the border 1,000 miles away? Oh, and we’ll grab your friends from school and drag them out, too, because we have such a great time together.’ If you remove the threat of self-deportation, it becomes a completely different conversation.”

Grover Norquist

Not sure that counts as self-deportation – that word does not mean what you think it means, sir – but the point is well taken and appreciated.

Posted by Brad @ 11:08 am on October 24th 2012

Quote of the Day

“I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children.”

That’s Robert Gibbs’ answer on how he justifies murdering a 16-year-old American citizen two weeks after his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, was similarly killed.

Posted by Brad @ 12:46 pm on June 1st 2012

Quote of the Day

“I don’t think God is through with me.”

John Edwards

Posted by Brad @ 7:07 pm on April 2nd 2012

Quote of the Day

“Our basic purpose is to keep the sovereign, that Leviathan, to manageable proportions. That task is not an easy one, because a constitution requires that one make judgements in the abstract, with confidence that they will hold good in the particular cases that arise in the future. That has proved a recurrent difficulty with all substantive guarantees, but not a hopeless one. The ambiguity and error at the margins, be it with property or speech, are well worth tolerating to preserve the core.”

—Richard Epstein, Self-Interest and the Constitution

I think of this a lot when I talk to liberal or conservative apologists for clearly unconstitutional overreaches in specific cases, be it health care or killing American citizens, due to that case being some kind of special exception. In other words, we’re asked to define constitutionalism by the outliers (which then sets the rule that it was originally supposed to be the exception proving). The problem, of course, is that we have become ruled by the exceptions. And we don’t understand that, in a constitutional system, we have to tolerate ambiguity or errors on the margin for the sake of protecting the core, in a very similar way to our justice system ostensibly being organized around protecting the innocent even if it means a hundred guilty go free—which is another organizing principle that I get the feeling Americans don’t believe in much anymore.

Posted by Brad @ 3:24 pm on January 16th 2012

Quote of the Day

“While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of ‘free,’ but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.[…]

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.”

Jonathan Turley, “10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free”

Posted by Brad @ 1:17 am on December 24th 2011

Quote of the Day

Libertarianism, because it is about allowing people to do things, is easily conflated with the things it allows people to do. In that sense, it is always vulnerable to being regarded as indifferent to injustice – not because it is inherently indifferent to injustice (although it may often, in practice, be), but because it puts freedom first.

Andrew Sullivan

Posted by Brad @ 10:59 pm on December 20th 2011

Quote of the Day

I will have an “I Don’t Care About…Racist Newsletters” post up at some point, but in the meantime, Reason gives, I think, the fairest roundup on the matter imaginable. And when I say fair, I don’t mean sympathetic. They also give a nice garden variety roundup, in which Doherty, responding to a blog conversation with Jonah Goldberg in which Goldberg makes a series of assumptions about why Ron Paul is useless in America as he understands it, says simply:

an America in which Ron Paul can be, even for a while, the GOP frontrunner in even one state is a very different America than Goldberg, Congress, or I thought we were living in, and the Republican Party at least will have to change in reaction to it–if not in 2012 then down the line.

Posted by Brad @ 2:13 pm on November 3rd 2011

Quote of the Day

I almost wrote an addition to my “I Don’t Care About…” series that would have been “I Don’t Care About…Gay Bullying.” Ultimately, I didn’t have the balls, and I didn’t want to be mistaken for insensitive (and it wasn’t specifically in relation to “It Gets Better”, which I think is phenomenal and one of the best (and most appropriate) approaches to such a problem that I’ve ever seen). It was more the thought that…well hell, getting bullied is a reality for MOST kids, at one point or another, and I always distrust people who demand we treat behavior as being of a separate kind when it happens to different classes of people (even when, as is the case for gay kids, rates of suicide are much higher).

That, combined with my general feeling that we spend far too much effort, as a society, trying to throw warm blankets over people to protect them from all insensitivity and to imbue them with the idea that they are beautiful unique snowflakes who have the absolute right to not have people be assholes to them. Finally, there’s the general efficacy issue, both on the party of the bullies and the bullied. On the bullies – I am pretty sure the scolding of Lady Gaga is not going to cross their minds when they corner Billy on the playground and, if anything, parents and teachers really taking the whip to bullies who target a gay kid sends the message that gay kids are a people apart, which I’m not sure is a message you want to send if normalization is your goal. But more than anything, for the bullied. To me, those defenses are best built up internally, and every human is not a sum total of what happens to them, but rather a sum total of how they choose to respond (internally or externally) to those happenings. In the same way a brain given addictive chemicals will stop producing dopamine for itself, movements that take the focus off training up that internal process, and put it on trying to protect them from those external happenings, are usually useless at best and counterproductive at worst.

ANYWAY, I didn’t write that post, but Scott Thompson has a great quote at Pride Source that made me think about that post-not-written.

You’ve addressed bullying before, specifically how the It Gets Better campaign is basically a lie – it might not get better, you say. What would you tell bullied kids then?

Grow a pair. Here’s the thing: The world is not kind to us; it never really will be. The gay male is always going to be at the bottom. I believe the things that happened to me as a child scarred me terribly, and I wish somebody would have helped me with some of the things that happened. But you have to fight back. So much of these bullying campaigns are part of the trend that we were just talking about – the recasting of gay men as eternal victims and it’s like, fight back! Fathers should start teaching the boys how to punch. He does that to you, here’s what you do: You fucking punch him in the face.

Whole interview’s worth reading, actually.

Posted by Brad @ 10:15 am on September 27th 2011

Quote of the Day

“In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they’d remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.

We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments – including the government of Iran – to act in kind.”

—Released hiker Shane Bauer

Posted by Brad @ 1:32 pm on September 23rd 2011

Quote of the Day

“I’m betrayed, in my view, by not just my wife, but by Neal and the whole gang in Journey.”

—“White House party crasher” and Real Housewives of D.C. star Tareq Salahi.

Layers upon layers of things wrong with America in that one…

Posted by Brad @ 3:01 pm on September 22nd 2011

Quote of the Day

“[Our] interest in the finality of [our] capital judgments is more important than the accuracy of [our] capital verdicts.”

The State of Georgia

Posted by Brad @ 1:46 pm on September 7th 2011

Quote of the Day II

“You know, we used to all love Sarah Palin, conservatives like me, for her enemies….I’m starting to dislike her because of her fans….It’s true that liberals will call even smart conservatives stupid. That doesn’t mean that when a liberal calls you stupid it makes you smart.”

Ann Coulter

Posted by Brad @ 1:40 pm on September 7th 2011

Quote of the Day

“Isn’t some suffering good for the sake of moral hazard? Is it not important to learn that gamely sucking prosperity from the future into the present and then whining loudly when the future arrives deserves some kind of penalty?”

Andrew Sullivan

I have some version of this reaction every time I hear people argue that the solution to our current economic crisis, based on decades of us trying to fiat prosperity into existence because we believe we have some kind of divine right to 3% unemployment and 10% growth, is to try and manufacture jobs.

Note: not just an American phenomenon.

Posted by Brad @ 9:30 am on September 6th 2011

Quote of the Day: Today in Political Rhetoric…

Jimmy Hoffa, as the intro speaker to the President of the United States:

Hoffa described the recent Republican-led assaults on collective bargaining rights as a “war on workers” and described Obama as union workers’ general who will lead them to victory in 2012 over the Tea Party and like-minded allies.

“President Obama, this is your army,” Hoffa said. “We are ready to march. Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.” […]

“We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war.”

I wonder if the fawning daisies on the left who are prone to getting the vapors when Rick Perry describes lynching the Fed Reserve chairman or Sarah Palin’s pac “targets” congressmen are going to get much up in arms about this. Probably they’ll post an obligatory “oh yeah, and this one was not a good way of talking about things either…” to save some cred, but we both know their hearts won’t be in it. Democratic voters can be trusted to have the frontal lobe capacity necessary to understand metaphorical language, whereas Republican voters are gun-weilding knuckle-dragging savages incapable of understanding violent imagery without being spurred to actual violence, much like Reggie Jackson and Leslie Nielson in the Naked Gun being programmed to kill the queen.

Posted by Brad @ 10:44 am on August 12th 2011

Quote of the Day – Debate Reax Edition

Q: “What did you make of Rick Santorum’s attack on your father?”

Rand Paul: “You know, I’d rather not talk about other candidates, particularly if they don’t have a chance of winning. I think there are some other significant candidates and significant issues, but I didn’t really see that as one.”


Q: “What if Ron Paul wins the straw poll?”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: “I think the party has room for Ron Paul, it has room for Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty…it has room for everybody.”

A far cry from after a debate in Michigan in 2008, when then state party chair (and a candidate for RNC chair who lost to Preibus) actively floated the idea of banning Ron Paul from the party.

Posted by Brad @ 11:13 am on August 1st 2011

Quote of the Day

“The government is good at one thing. It knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, ‘See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.'”

—Harry Browne

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