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AvatarComments by CJColucci in reply to Jaybird*

On “Epstein Dead

It's hard to be responsible in the presence of a shiny object that confirms your priors.


As I remember the usage in my own newspaper days, a story could be "spiked" either because it was embarrassing to the powers that be or that it was not solid enough to run with. These were not watertight compartments. Higher ups might demand better sourcing of a story that would embarrass the powers that be than they would in a similar story that would embarrass a nobody for obvious reasons.Who wants Harvey Weinstein's or Jeffrey Epstein's lawyers up your ass unless you've got the goods nailed down tight? It's not always clear whether a spike was a righteous spike or not, even when the basic facts are known, and pissing contests between reporters and higher-ups don't do much more than confirm whatever priors you bring to the discussion. At least until somebody does solid reporting on the reporting. But that's hard work. For the rest of us, there's an empty barstool down that way.

On “Jay Sekulow’s Vanity Band

He should perform on a double bill with the vanity band of James Dolan, heir to the Cablevision/Madison Square Garden fortune and bane of all Knicks fans.

On “Ryan Adams, Fandom, and Tolerating Bad Behavior

I think a lot depends on the type of "bad behavior" involved. Mick Jagger, for example, does (did?) not have a sex life one would set up as worthy of emulation (envy is another matter), but as far as I know -- and I haven't followed closely -- my general impression is that Mick Jagger f****d a lot of women, mostly adults, who wanted to f**k Mick Jagger. We tolerate, maybe even expect, that sort of thing. If it comes out that he knowingly took advantage of underage groupies, or used muscle power rather than star power to get laid, we'd think differently.

On “The Market is Eating Capitalism

And why did we, as a political body, move to create that?

Because it seemed to us, collectively, to be a good idea at the time. And if we eventually come to believe that other expedients are good, we will enact them, and no theory can tell us, on the basis of some general principle, that we are wrong.
To be sure, there are often good reasons for what we adopt, but that gets us into the weeds, where generalities don't help us much. As the philosopher John Mackie once said: there is no natural law of property, but it is natural that there be some law of property. The details are negotiable.

On “About Last Night: Democratic Debate Live From Las Vegas

The incentive to take the 2d spot to Biden is Biden's age.

On “The Market is Eating Capitalism

I think Chip's point was that, whoever owns the rights to Paul McCartney's songs, no one owns the rights to Paul McCartney's songs until some government says someone does and sets up a system by which others can be forcibly prevented from using them without paying for them. (There wasn't always such a system; Shakespeare had no recourse if someone else wanted to publish or perform his plays.) Whatever lousy deals the original holder of this governmentally-approved monopoly makes afterward may be his own look-out, but there isn't anything to make good or bad deals about until the government steps in and imposes some sort of order.


I saw it, too, but it seems to be gone now.

On “Getting to Ten Times Better

I'm not sure what it means to be 10X the basketball player someone else is. Certainly if I, a slow-footed 5'7" man eligible for Social Security and having no jump shot went one-on-one against LeBron James, he would score against me at will and I would be extremely lucky to get a single basket against him. Does that make him a (near) infinitely better basketball player than I am? If I were ten times the player I now am, however one might measure that, the result would probably still be nearly the same.

On “Roger Stone Sentencing Gets Suddenly Interesting

The judge sentenced Stone to 40 months. She said she wasn't going to sentence him to 7-9 even before Trump shot off his mouth and DOJ shot itself in the foot. She recited some technical reasons that she thought the original recommendation was improperly calculated under the guidelines. I look forward to a written decision explaining things more thoroughly.

On “President Trump Commutes Blagojevich Sentence, Pardons Others

When Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp, I didn't realize that the swamp he had in mind was the federal prison system.

On “Very Stable Genius Predictions

I disagree with this, but, then again, I've never been part of a brokered convention.

On “Roger Stone Sentencing Gets Suddenly Interesting

Whether current criminal sentences are too high in general is a separate issue from the right sentence for Stone. When Paul Manafort was given a four-year sentence, I told people I'd be happy to live in a world where that was the normal sentence for what he did. But we don't live in that world, and I don't see why Manafort -- or Stone -- should get there ahead of the rest of us.

On “Wednesday Writs: SCOTUS and Almighty God Edition

I was in grade school in central New York when the practice of Government Prayer (TM) was shut down. Despite all the howls from outside, I distinctly remember how little we schoolkids cared. We didn't want to be in school, let alone pray in it, or listen (as a bunch of Italian, Irish, and Polish Catholics) to some teacher droning on from the King James Bible. There will be prayer in school as long as there is algebra. The government should stay out of it.

On “Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Martyrs, Saints, and Grifters Upon the Waves Edition

Take that up with them. I stand by my promise not to point and laugh.


This may be right, it may be wrong. At least it's about the actual world. I don't think I have a basis for predictions, at least no basis warranting inflicting my predictions on others, so I will await events. For people who think they do have some basis for predictions, I promise not to point and laugh if they don't pan out.


I accept that as a statement about how you feel.


African-Americans already know about this, and knew it back when. If they are, nevertheless, coming around on him, about which I have no basis yet for a view, that's a positive for Bloomberg. But the recycling of old news was played by the recycler as something negative, that needed to be broadcast, presumably because he thought it insufficiently known by people who might not like it.


What's the news here? This was exactly what Bloomberg was saying publicly back when. Everyone who was paying attention then knew about it. He has since had a Come To Jesus moment on stop and frisk, and I leave it to others whether they think he's sincere. I don't care that much about sincerity once you box yourself in and can't do it again.


Is there a recognizable political demographic that checks the first five boxes and also wants to cut Social Security? Maybe it's a logically-possible collection of political beliefs (or, if you prefer, irritable mental gestures), but I haven't seen many, or maybe any, examples in the wild.


Means-testing Social Security will make all too obvious that it is -- gasp -- WELFARE, something only Those People (TM) get. Its political invulnerability is precisely the result of its universal status and the comforting illusion so many recipients entertain that it is some kind of earned and paid-for benefit, not -- shudder -- WELFARE.

On “The Last Day: Impeachment Endgame

You won't find a prosecution. 44 U.S.C. 3106 is not a criminal statute. Just read the damn thing.


Go find a lawyer to read this to you slowly. I don't have the time.


(ripping up Trump’s SOTU speech was a federal criminal violation),

No, it wasn't.

On “Politico Reports “An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter”

This looks perfectly sensible, almost obvious, to me. I've never been impressed by districts that swung red or blue. I always want to know who in those districts came out. To be sure, there are individual voters who swing red or blue, but I've never seen any evidence that this is a large group. And, to operationalize things, nobody knows what to do with them anyway. No one who could swing from Obama to Trump has any coherent sort of "politics" that most of us -- who lean whatever way we lean largely based on policy preferences that we think we've thought about -- here understand beyond the impulse to look at how their lives are going, throw whichever bastard is in out, and then throw that new bastard out when he doesn't deliver whatever it is they think they want. (Often, of course, because he can't and neither can anyone else. But try telling these voters that.) There is simply no systematic or issue-based way of appealing to them. If you have mad campaign skills and charisma, or are simply willing and able to tell outrageous but comforting lies without visible shame, you might peel some off of this mindless cycle, but you can't game that out by issue stances and the like.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.