Yo citizens! North Korea was just about to celebrate its 20th anniversary on our State Sponsors Of Terrorism list when Condi Rice went and pulled them abruptly off it. Now she's telling everyone we'll be sending them food and shit!! Megan is skeptical about this, but with food prices where they are right now and all the international finance institutions tipped off to North Korea's phony money and the lid blown off their whole deal with Syria, maybe Kim Jong Il himself started feeling hungry. I don't know, he's been hiding from he paparazzi lately, but it's a thought. Anyway, so you think ending the Cold War was a good idea? How do you chemically castrate someone? Why do some polls say Obama is like 29 points ahead and others say it's a tie? Now that the Supreme Court is starting to look like they're sort of "over" killing people, how'd they rule on the DC handgun ban? And now that he's dissed Scarlett Johansson, what beautiful and lofty thing will Obama sell out next? Those questions (and many dumber ones) answered after the jump.
MEGAN: This D.C.-based hangover case is trying to get pissed about something but all I can come up with is a sense of mild disgust that Cindy McCain cites Princess Di as an inspiration. I mean, I know between all her recipe-swiping and whatever that Cindy isn't the most creative person in the world but come on! Between this and Jackie O, can she choose more archetypes of the supportive-but-not-controversial wife to emulate to get her husband elected?
MOE: Wait, one sec, I forgot to tell you I'm doing DIRT BAG today. You know what that means? I fucking read TMZ and Page Six etc. etc. all morning. Apparently Janis Ian via David Geffen turned down an offer to do music for The Graduate. And that is what passes for a Page Six item on a Thursday in late June when Richard Johnson is on vacation!
MEGAN: Well, you go get dirrrty, I'll be here when you get back and not remotely envious of your gossip-reading.
MOE: Wait cindy mccain cites jackie as an inspiration? I thought that was Michelle's territory? And wasn't Jackie kind of controversial? Didn't she like, do drugs and give her daughters eating disorders and repress a full 90% of her emotions like all those beautiful icons of her generation??
MEGAN: Well, sure, but no one said anything about that until much later.
MEGAN: Anyway, we should probably totally talk about the whole North Korea thing briefly. Like, I sort of wonder if it's a good thing that all Kim Jong Il has to do is turn over some stuff detailed his weapons programs — without actually, you know, stopping them — and we're already lifting sanctions?
MOE: Well, what the fuck good have the sanctions done? How much thinner can they get in North Korea? I dunno…I kind of don't get the sense that we're dealing with a rational, logical guy in that Kim Jong Il. Maybe "engagement" would be kind of like the oil cleansing method of fighting breakouts. Like a "love bomb" on that show "Intervention."
MEGAN: Except that didn't we try that in the Clinton Administration? We offered them enticements, conducted negotiations and then Kim did what he wanted to do anyway which was get his hands on nukes. It's totally a no-win situation, but I guess I'm concerned in the medium- to long-term that allowing ourselves to be economically invested there could have negative repercussions on our foreign policy since it, you know, seemingly always does.
MOE: Has becoming economically interdependent with China had negative FP repercussions? I mean, sure you'll find lots of instances where that would be the case — the whole career of this guy, such as — and they haven't been exactly helpful when it comes to dealing with the DPRK, maybe some casino magnate can convince them to change their policy about sending North Korean border-crossers back to North Korea, but I'm trying to hone in on what you're saying with the "always does." Anyway in the case of North Korea is the big new concern their cooperation with Syria? I still haven't read the story. I'll do that now. Also we should maybe discuss child rapists and FISA.
MEGAN: I mean, in my mind, we find it really easy to take a hard foreign policy stand in countries where we have no economic interest or, in the case of the Iraq, where a hard foreign policy stand is aligned with our economic interests. Sometimes, like with Burma, that's probably a good thing, other times less so — agricultural competition and Cuba comes to mind, actually. But, yes, China was the example I was thinking of when saying our economic interests seemingly trump our foreign policy ones. Like, there's a whole army of lobbyists that will lobby for their companies' interests in China and strongly oppose any government action against China in a foreign policy sense that might interfere with that.
MOE: Oh god CHECK IT OUT we averted recession go us.
MEGAN: Well, we avoided it first quarter by just being anemic.
MEGAN: I'm not feeling the growth love.
MOE: Yeah I was being sarcastic but you know me.
MEGAN: Also, don't we all love how we live in an age where all kinds of information is at our fingertips, but economists still can only call it an official recession in retrospect 2 financial quarters later?
MOE: I think we should seal all aggregate economic data for a few years and come together as a nation to figure out what would really make everyone happier.
MEGAN: See, I actually wonder if it would even be possibly to determine that given our culture is so steeped in the idea that the ability to consume = happiness
MOE: Anyway, would you get in a time machine and, like, assassinate Kissinger before he had a chance to chill with Mao? Oh shit that reminds me I've got that Harper's somewhere with the amazing transcript of that. Because I wouldn't. Would I? Nah. I mean, it would be interesting.
MEGAN: I've watched and read too much SciFi to think that changing the past like that would be a good idea.
MEGAN: Anyway, so, wiretapping and child rapists?
MOE: Yeah I mean, I'm not really that interested in this fire and brimstone shit but Bobby Jindal is apparently like, okay, if you won't let us execute our child rapists I am going to have them CHEMICALLY CASTRATED. I'm almost afraid to click and find out what that meas.
MEGAN: Well, look, there are 5 states that have the law on the books now, but Louisiana was the first. Patrick Kennedy (poor, black) was the first child rapist ever given the death penalty in such a case, in 2003— but the law was passed in 1995
MOE: Oh man it's just Depo-Provera??
MEGAN: Yeah, mostly. Also, chemical castration doesn't solve the problem Chemically castrated rapists have offended again.
MEGAN: Plus, hello, life in prison?
MEGAN: Basically, the idea is that you can't get a boner or you can't ejaculate, but you can rape a person without a dick and Viagra can overcome Depo. Plus, it's rooted in the idea that rape is about sexual arousal, when when is at least as much about power and dominance.
MEGAN: So, if a rapist wants to show dominance, he doesn't need an erection. Lots of rapes are committed with objects (see:Joe Francis' rape).
MOE: Oh dude…uh speaking of dominance ?…WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE POLLS WHY DOES GALLUP SAY IT IS A TIE AND EVERYONE ELSE IS LIKE UH-UH OBAMA IS WINNNNING
MEGAN: Well, Gallup says it's within the margin of error, so they're not even sure it represents a change.
MEGAN: The Rasmussen standard is "likely" voters, while Gallup only asks registered voters.
MEGAN: The real mystery to me is the LA Times/Bloomberg poll which has Obama miles ahead but uses the registered voter standard.
MOE: No but like all the polls had Obama 12 points ahead, and then Gallup came out and declared a tie, but whatever I wanted to go back to the fact that, like, even if you isolate North Korea economically they have gotten really good at printing fake currency so that is a problem. Anyway, here's Condi Rice telling everyone how she decided to remove North Korea from the terror list. Nowhere does she say "they are not terrorists because LOOK THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN ALLAH" but you know that's the subtext.
MEGAN: Sure, counterfeiting our money to give to terrorists in exchange for stuff legit governments won't sell them: not terrorism. Because they're not Muslim.
MOE: Oh, well that's simple enough. Registered vs. likely, sure. Mystery solved.
MEGAN: Also, back to the LA Times poll, they included Barr (3%) and Nader (4%), both coming mostly from McCain voters. Also, the LA Times poll is the only one with that large a margin, the Rasmussen and Gallup are both within each other's margins of error.
MEGAN: Also, it appears that the LA Times poll asked about isues and party affiliation, which would naturally affect responses. Gallup just asks "who you gonna vote for."
MEGAN: So, like, to me, that would indicate that in a knee-jerk reaction poll, they're more even but when voters are asked to think about the issues and with whom they agree and what is most important to them issues-wise, Obama does waaaaay better. Which is really interesting.
MEGAN: Yes, I did take statistical methodology as part of my major in Sociology, why do you ask?
MOE: Wait, ADD time, back to the Supreme Court death penalty decision and how it maybe reflects a shift on how the Court views executing people.
Justice Kennedy's majority opinion includes striking comments indicating possible skepticism about the entirety of capital punishment jurisprudence. In a remarkable statement, he says that the court's extensive body of death-penalty case law "is still in search of a unifying principle." That's a pretty bold statement about the whole project. And consider this statement by Kennedy today: "When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint."
MEGAN: Well, that goes along with the statement in the majority opinion that taking the death penalty off the table to child rapists reflect shifting social values about the death penalty.
MEGAN: That, like, since the standard for "cruel and unusual" changes over time as society changes, so does the Constitutionality of the punishment. I'm okay with that.
MOE: Me too! I think I'm also okay with Karl Rove calling out Obama's "alpha male attitude." Because, LOL!
Mr. Obama's alpha-male attitude was evident even as he stumbled towards and over the primary finish line. First, his campaign announced in May it was talking to Patti Solis Doyle after Sen. Clinton fired her as campaign manager. This served only to pour salt in the Clintons' wounds.
MEGAN: Right, because most politicians and political operatives aren't Type A personalities AT ALL.
MEGAN: But I guess Karl is himself a little more passive-aggressive, and if Bush really did fire him in church so he couldn't make a scene, so is Bush, so maybe Karl's just too used to passive-aggressivity to view assertiveness as anything other than hyper-aggressive?
MEGAN: WAIT oh my God, Karl Rove is everyone I date.
MOE: Um, also how did I miss Obama dissing Scarlett Johansson, (which Mickey Kaus deems "inexplicably clumsy," somewhat inexplicably, since he cops to having watched her video, and like, hello.)
MEGAN: Ummm, I would guess it has a lot more to do with downplaying the black man-white woman vaguely flirtatious suggestion aspect of it.
MOE: Ya think???
MEGAN: Which is just sad.
MOE: Interesting Spiegel piece on Why Russia Is Risking Another Cold War by amping up its military might. The answer seems to be that it isn't, but Putin talks a good game.
MEGAN: Well, who would they have a Cold War with? We're all into hot wars now, and really only in terrorist-sponsoring states that just happen to be Muslim and don't have nukes and shit.
MEGAN: Obama, by the way, is flip-flopping on the DC gun ban since he's trying to win swing states and the Supreme Court is expected to throw it out today.
MOE: Ugh and what the fuck was up with FISA?
MEGAN: The security of the American people trumps their need to protect (i.e., sue over) their right to privacy. He managed to combine a Republican argument on the supreme importance of national security with an implied Republican argument on tort reform. Plus, he can't look soft on terrorism or something and the Democrats have collectively decided to cave on telecomm immunity because they like having Bush scratch their bellies.
MOE: Oh here, they threw it out. Yay.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home."
MOE: Scalia wrote the opinion. 5-4 decision. Can't wait to read!
MEGAN: You can right here, if you want.