Another Open Thread

I was lucky enough to remember to put the camera on the end table next to the chair, and caught these snaps. For those of you wondering what the wild and crazy decadent nights at Balloon Juice HQ look like, this is it:

I can’t believe it was just a little over a year ago and I was debating whether I should get a dog. If you don’t have kids, you owe it to yourself and the animals to have pets. Trust me, your quality of life will go through the roof.

And while we are at it, don’t forget to get your Balloon Juice swag at the CafePress store. All proceeds (and by all, I mean 100%) go to the lovely folks at Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue to support their mission.

Wednesday Night Open Thread

I have deemed you worthy:

I think that sums up the general mood around here. We’ve had several beautiful days in a row- mid 70’s, sunny, no humidity, beautiful breezes. I’m loving it, and I love being able to have all the windows open with the ceiling fans on.

Had a really good dinner- I bought some wild caught salmon filets and dad turned them into this delicious salad he makes with rice, asparagus, peas, tomatoes. Also had some more tomatoes with basil and mozz., and am now having a glass of Aconga, a really cheap Malbec/Sauvignon Blanc I found at Kroger for 3.99 a bottle, which is a decent price for a servicable table wine. I think it will be a busy night of sitting on the porch and then on the lazyboy with the girls.

BTW- for those dealing with the IE issues and the site, I’ve scheduled another rebuild maintenance for the end of August.

Essential Ipad Apps

I’ve been tinkering around with the ipad, and I can’t quite figure out what it is supposed to do. Meaning- why an Ipad rather than a Macbook? Or, why an Ipad rather than an Ipod? Is it a size thing- because I just don’t mind carrying around a 17″ macbook, which has so much more power.

Are there applications that I must have that will make me understand the mania?

And I’m not saying I dislike the thing, I just don’t understand why it would be an essential tool for someone when a laptop would suffice.

Why Was This Ever Legal?

The title to this post says it all:

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday tightened restrictions against “pay-to-play” practices in the municipal securities market.

The measure was another attempt to close loopholes that agency officials said have allowed political influence to corrupt aspects of the $2.6 trillion public pension business.

The five-member commission voted unanimously to bar investment managers who make political contributions to officials with influence over public pension funds from managing those funds for two years.

The commission also barred investment managers from paying a third party to solicit pension business on their behalf unless the third party is registered with the S.E.C. or other regulators and therefore subject to similar pay-to-play bans.

But the commission stepped back from its original proposal, which would have placed an outright ban on third-party solicitations of pension-management business. Commission staff recommended the partial ban after investment advisers and fund managers complained that they often lacked the resources to secure pension business on their own, causing them to rely instead on consultants and brokers to gain access.

Mary Schapiro, the chairwoman of the S.E.C., called pay-to-play “an unspoken, but entrenched and well-understood practice.” The commission has made several attempts in recent years to crack down on pay-to-play, which Ms. Schapiro said can “favor large advisers over smaller competitors, reward political connections rather than management skill, and — as a number of recent enforcement cases have shown — pave the way to outright fraud and corruption.”

I suppose it is impossible to outlaw everything that should be illegal, but sometimes you see something and you have to wonder why it was ever allowed.

Please Explain

Can someone explain this reaction from Emptywheel:

After prompting Kagan to deliver the standard justification for detaining enemy combatants during war and rewarding her with a condescending compliment, Lindsey starts by getting Kagan to agree that the war on terror will never end.

Lindsey: [Speaking of her rote recitation of the basis for indefinite detention] That’s a good summary. The problem with this war is that there will never be a definable end to hostilities, will there?

Kagan: [Nodding] That is exactly the problem, Senator.

What a breath-taking exchange! Rather than challenge Lindsey on his slippery definition (referring to “hostilities” rather than war), rather than challenging him on the premise, Kagan simply nods in agreement. One minority party Senator and the Solicitor General sat in a hearing today and decided between them the state of hostilities under which the Executive Branch has assumed war-like powers to fight terrorism will never end.

The police state will continue forever.

Maybe I am misinterpreting these remarks, and you have to watch the video, but didn’t Kagan just say it is a bad thing that we are currently engaged in never-ending hostilities? Don’t we agree that is a bad thing? Isn’t Kagan right? What should she have said?

Like I Said

Just got around to reading the Gerson piece DougJ linked to earlier, and I want to repost the part DougJ highlighted plus a little:

But the Internet is also a permanent record, as Weigel found. His reaction to exposure was honest and admirable. He admitted to being “cocky” and “needlessly mean” — the kind of introspection that promises future contribution. But when members of the Ugly Party are exposed, generally they respond differently. Obscenity? The real obscenity is an unjust war, or imposing socialism or devotion to Israel. It is an argument that makes any deep policy disagreement an excuse for verbal violence. Or an offense against taste and judgment is dismissed as humor and satire.

The alternative to the Ugly Party is the Grown-Up Party — less edgy and less hip. It is sometimes depicted on the left and on the right as an all-powerful media establishment, stifling creativity, freedom and dissent. The Grown-Up Party, in my experience, is more like a seminar at the Aspen Institute — presentation by David Broder, responses from E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks — on the electoral implications of the energy debate. I am more comfortable in this party for a few reasons: because it is more responsible, more reliable and less likely to wish its opponents would die.

I think my analysis of Gerson and the rest of the village the other day summarizes this warped viewpoint rather succinctly:

The rules still hold true- all sorts of disgusting and bizarre worldviews are acceptable among the “toilet-trained” Beltway elites (Krauthammer, Will, Thiessen, Kristol, and many others still write for the WaPo), but don’t drink out of the finger bowl or use a four letter word or your ass is history.

Sincere panels about the appropriateness of crushing a child’s testicles are acceptable and serious op-eds about the necessity for torture are welcome, but dropping an f-bomb on a private listserv is simply inexcusable and cause for a serious case of the vapors.

Kagan Hearings

Is anyone paying attention to these?

Also, I just caught Tunch trying to escape again. Apparently he jumps up on a laundry hamper in my bedroom, and then pushes a screen open and jumps out the window. Devil.