Life and Death of Raphael

RaphaelDudley Nichols, screenwriter of Bringing Up Baby, was born on this day back in 1895. The great saxophonist Gerry Mulligan was born in 1927. And Kinch from Hogan’s Heroes, Ivan Dixon was born in 1931.

The great geneticist James D. Watson is 85 today. Merle Haggard is 76. I like him for songs like “Mama Tried” and “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.” But “Okie From Muskogee” is one of the most vile examples of in group/out group politics I’ve ever seen. It really tarnishes the man. Billy Dee Williams is also 76. Barry Levinson, director of Good Morning Vietnam and Bandits, is 71. Marilu Henner is 61. Documentary filmmaker Rob Epstein is 58. And Paul Rudd is 44.

Under normal circumstances, Dr. Watson would win the birthday contest. But maybe because I can more see myself discovering the structure of DNA than I can drawing anything more complicated than a stick figure, I have to give the day to the great Italian painter Raphael who was born on this day back in 1483. He is usually paired with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, but unlike them, he died very young—at 37 on his birthday. (Or not; he may have been born on 28 March.) He produced a remarkable amount of work given that da Vinci had 30 years on him and Michelangelo had almost 50.

Happy birthday young man!

Avik Roy’s Nonsense on Disability Insurance

Avik RoyOne thing that this last week has shown is that Chris Hayes’ new weeknight show All In is certainly as good as his weekend show was. So you will forgive me for writing twice about it in as many days.

Last night, there was a discussion of the recent NPR attack on Disability Insurance. And Hayes brought on Avik Roy to play the part of the evil and stupid conservative. It was type casting. As regular readers know, I am no fan of this man. And he showed why on this appearance yesterday. He is supposedly a policy wonk. And yet, like most conservatives who are supposed to be policy wonks, all we ever get from him are tired conservative canards and talking points.

In this case, he brought up Jonah Goldberg’s specious argument in The Baltimore Sun that our disability program must have huge amounts of fraud because the program in the United Kingdom did. Former Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue blew that argument out of the water. I suggest watching the segment below (five minutes). But the point is, rather than bring up actual evidence, Avik Roy just quotes National Review propaganda from Jonah Goldberg.

We very rarely get any policy discussion from Avik Roy. That would be fine if he were just another conservative pundit. But he works at a think tank. He is supposedly a policy guy. And this is what the conservative movement has come to. It has been decades since their think tanks actually worked on any policy. Now, they just look for better ways to twist facts to justify policies that are givens, based upon their political ideology.

I know the pickings are poor when it comes to conservatives who can do anything more than rant. So Hayes can be forgiven for inviting Roy on his show. And I’ll admit, Avik Roy is far better than most conservative pundits. But it shows just how intellectually vacuous the conservative movement has become. Up against even reasonable opposition, Roy is pathetic.