Friday, August 15, 2003
A Sacrifice for DemocracyKevin Drum has the goods on the Iowa State Fair, with pictures of John Kerry eating a corn-dog and Howard Dean running some serious pork chops on the grill. (And Dennis Kucinich... standing on some hay.) Trust me, folks, there ain't nothing happening in the news today.
However, G.p is proposing its second challenge to the readership at large. (If you've forgotten or missed it, the first was a book club challenge. So far, me, PG, and hundreds of untold others are reading Wesley Clark's book, Waging Modern War, so we can get to know The General a little better before he announces his candidacy.)
The new challenge: I will eat corn dogs and pork chops for the Democratic cause! Just bring them by my office.
If the second challenge goes unmet, this post will just serve as a reminder for the first. Leave a comment if you're interested in a collaborative reading.
posted by kriston at 1:56 PM........
Probably the Most Important Movie of Our Generation...and this guy doesn't get it. In his review he actually uses the phrase—honest to God here, folks—"Jason as Cyrano to Freddy's Christian." There are days when I wish I couldn't read.
No doubt many of us have been waiting for this historic showdown since 1993, when Friday the 13th: Jason Goes to Hell (volume IX of the saga) first suggested the clash, as Freddy Krueger's hand reached from beyond the grave to drag Jason's mask to hell. Probably only a Batman vs Predator vs Aliens movie (of which I've seen a preview, thanks) could generate more excitement for a film in me. Sadly, the only person I know who can appreciate art-as-film lives in Austin, and I'm having trouble convincing these DC 'sophisticates' that, occasionally, film superiority must be measured in the subtle inflections of the grotesque. (We'll always have Jason X.)
The Washington Post only printed one trainwreck worse than this review, and it was Stephen Hunter's carnal handling of X-Men 2:
If you dream in the language of X, if your very being is wound up in X, if you're a secret mutant who yearns to be welcomed to the tribe of X, if you'd rather X than sex or X than cash checks, then "X2: X-Men United" is for you.Seriously, what kind of 'Help Wanted' sign do you have to use to garner this kind of talent? Wanted: Total Douchebags to Trash This Nation's Cinematic History As It's Being Written.
I think I want to be this film for Halloween.
posted by kriston at 11:05 AM........
Showdown in High Cotton: Pryor vs MooreFrom the emails I see Pryor's response to Moore:
Although I believe the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of our legal heritage and that they can be displayed constitutionally as they are in the U. S. Supreme Court building, I will not violate nor assist any person in the violation of this injunction. As Attorney General, I have a duty to obey all orders of courts even when I disagree with those orders. In this controversy, I will strive to uphold the rule of law. We have a government of laws, not of men. I will exercise any authority provided to me, under Alabama law, to bring the State into compliance with the injunction of the federal court, unless and until the Supreme Court of the United States rules in favor of Chief Justice Moore.See Southern Appeal for more details.
So if Moore were Catholic, and Pryor goes after Moore, would that make Pryor... naaah.
posted by kriston at 9:28 AM........
"It's not a tumah!"Au contraire, says Michael Tomasky of The American Prospect. He does the numbers and concludes that Schwarzenegger won't win. He argues a good point: The media's already concluded that Arnold has California all pahmped ahp, but the polls aren't showing the overwhelming strength you'd expect from the coverage. Considering the bleed of enthusiasm over time, the fact that his announcing a view or two will chip away at those numbers, and that other Republicans much less liberal than Arnold are running, those numbers will only decline. Tomasky thinks that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has this locked down. Curiously, Tomasky doesn't mention the possibility that the recall will be declined, which is a possibility for every reason that he lists as a check in Bustamante's corner.
I think he might be placing his bets a little early. Remember, Arnold isn't looking for 50% in this election—he needs just 20-30% to come away with the victory. The media is humming a loud tune, and unless it quickly reverses its position (ah, but isn't the political/paparazzi media just such a school of fish?) the media's opinion could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But that's just where Tomasky's argument gets interesting:
A few years ago Arnold's fame and stature could have more than likely overcome these deficiencies. But something has been changing in American politics in recent years. A series of corrosively divisive events have made Americans choose sides to a degree that has no recent precedent in American politics. The Clinton impeachment, the 2000 election and the debate over the Iraq War have been the main events. But larger cultural developments and controversies, from same-sex marriage to whether one believes Martha Stewart and her $248,000 windfall are really worth a prosecutor's time, have created an America in which engaged citizens are defending their cultural and ideological turf and are increasingly distrustful of the people and institutions that don't share their mores. It's a climate, in other words, in which great fame or a winning personality is less likely to trump people's deeper concerns about the state of the culture and the direction the country is heading.Man, I want to sign on to that. I do think that this decade will be and already is more serious and more politically attuned than the last. Alan Thicke could have picked up the 2000 election, for all the emphasis placed on magnetism and the blind eye turned to talent. Looking further down the road, a more sober population doesn't necessarily translate into a more insightful population, to be abjectly pessimistic, so I'll keep my eyes on the Dems that are electable. To be kinder to Tomasky's theory: I think the politicization of the population may mean that money will go less far than ideas in the general election—a boon for the Dems.
Don't underestimate America's ability to prove its spectacular shallowness. We can do it if we try!
posted by kriston at 9:18 AM........
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Nous sommes tous les FrançaisI hadn't realized the severity of the heat wave currently hitting Europe, but CNN reports that 3,000 people may be dead in France as a result of the weather over the last two weeks. That's insane. Now would be an appropriate time for the Bush administration to repair diplomatic bridges by sending at least some kind words, and maybe some ice.
MORE: Eppy noted that some people aren't reacting sympathetically to the French despair at temperatures not uncommon in the southern US. Idiots will be idiots, but what's remarkable about these particular conservative commenters is that they were among the least thrilled when other nations were unsympathetic to acts of terrorism committed in the United States. Those hypocrites should note that after 9/11 Le Monde ran the headlines, "We Are All Americans Now."
Not that they'd say it now....
posted by kriston at 4:36 PM........
Song of the SouthAlabama's making its push to be a star in the national theatre of the absurd, currently starring Texas and California: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore announced today that he won't remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, saying that he will plea to the US Supreme Court to stop any effort to remove them.
Did anyone know that that thing weighs 5,300 pounds? Or this?
In office as chief justice, he had the gray granite Ten Commandments monument moved into the judicial building in the middle of the night on July 31, 2001, without announcing the event to the public or to the news media. He did inform a Christian television ministry, which filmed the installation and used it on the TV program.Or that he's not the first? If you'd like a history of judges trying to force the tablets into the court, or a brief run-down of why the Ten Commandments violate the separation of Church and State clause—yeah, some people need that spoon-fed—read on.
If AL Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor sends in stormtroopers on a forklift to remove a fucking two-and-a-half ton Ten Commandments from Alabama's Supreme Court, then yeah, 'Bama might have Tejas and Cali beat. Roll Tide!
C'mon, Moore—even Moses got rid of 'em.
posted by kriston at 2:28 PM........
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
What Has Science Done?Textbook publisher Holt, Rinehart & Winston is caving to demands from the religious right that "intelligent design" be included as an alternative to evolution in Texas biology textbooks. While from a certain vantage point, "intelligent design" theory interests me—it proves that the creationist lobby has slipped over time, and that they'll take whatever watered-down acknowledgment of the Bible they can get—it discourages me to think that kids in Texas will be even stupider.
Good thing that Texas typically sets the pace for textbook sales across the nation—we wouldn't let the larger nation miss out on science textbooks that promote non-science.
posted by kriston at 5:05 PM........
A Curiously Strong CommentFirst, Calpundit brings us the scoop on more conservative nonsense: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will announce tomorrow whether or not he will obey a court order requiring him to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building. Apparently there's some question about whether or not Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor will let Chief Justice Moore's decision stand if Moore won't remove the statue himself. (Feddie at Southern Appeal—Pryor's most dedicated acolyte, to be sure—assures that Pryor will "bring down the hammer and publicly rebuke him," if need be.)
A commenter named "Altoid" gets right to the nut of the issue, if you ask me:
Wasn't this all settled in Cooper v. Aaron? He doesn't really have a choice. Every state job oath includes a commitment to uphold the US Constitution, and he swore to it or he wouldn't be where he is.Bingo. Certainly a similar strategy is being tested by the Texas Democratic Party, who surely won't mind if they drag the media, and with the media the common voter, into the fray over redistricting. (For why I think voters' sympathy surely just swung the Dems' direction, see the post below.) And according to How Appealing, even the US District Court in question predicts the martyr act from Chief Justice Moore: The federal court has threatened a fine of $5,000 per day (which will double every week) until Chief Justice Moore removes the ol' Law of Moses.
Now, there's a huge difference between what's happening in Texas and the story in Alabama: namely, the respective abilities of the legislative and judicial branches to interpret the law. There's a lot of wiggle room in the crisis facing the Texas legislature, but what Chief Justice Moore has been told to do doesn't get any clearer. Funny that Chief Justice Moore would be willing to break US law in order to preserve a statue of Biblical law. Even funnier that Att. Gen. Pryor may make the same decision!
FUNNY: Sayeth Feddie:
Stephen Glassroth, the attorney who filed a lawsuit against Moore to force removal of the Ten Commandments, said it best perhaps when he noted that “I think Bill Pryor has far too much respect for the law [to help Moore urge defiance of a federal court order]."If by "has far too much respect for the law," he means, "will obey it"... sigh.
Where the skies are so blue, and the attorney general's true.
posted by kriston at 4:10 PM........
Tyranny of the MajorityTexas Republican Senators have gone nuts. Absolutely. Fucking. Nuts. This is astonishing:
In an unprecedented action in a Texas Senate that has seen everything from filibusters to near-fistfights since it first convened in 1846, Republican senators on Tuesday voted to fine their Democratic colleagues who fled to New Mexico to block action on congressional redistricting.I'd love to be able to pick my jaw up off my keyboard and type something that drives to the heart of this insanity, but it's not gonna happen. This is a moment in the history of state legislatures, not just that of Texas--much like California and its governor's office. The fines are bizarre enough, but--how many times have I written this about redistricting?--it gets worse:
The terms of the fine mean "we will not be allowed to vote unless we pay it from our personal funds," said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.Though it would appear that mandating fines may be legal under the state constitution--the article quotes a section detailing that each house may "compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide"--there's no reasoning given concerning the Republicans threat to strip the Democrats' of their vote. Given the language of that constitutional clause, and the fact that State Attorney General Greg Abbott is Tom DeLay's dildo, I would expect that Republicans can functionally execute any pets that the Texas 11 may have left with neighbors.
Funny that this example of Texas Republicans doing whatever they wants in their relentless pursuit of redistricting would come on the same day that the Justice Department published its report that Texas Republicans tried to convince the Feds to do whatever Texas Republicans wanted in their relentless pursuit of redistricting.
If the Texas 11 stay in New Mexico until the end of the session on September 1st, the will have accrued $792,000 in fines ($72K per head). Let the fines stack up, damnit. I say go for a mill. Go for a million each, if that's what it takes, but this an issue of principle now. This is a tyranny of the majority, and Tom DeLay must lose.
I don't think Texans will stand for this for one second.
posted by kriston at 2:43 PM........
The War Against MeritCourtesy of Matthew Yglesias, a note about the crisis California liberals are silently facing. No, not with the gubernatorial race, but with Proposition 54, a measure to stop the state government from compiling any ethnic demographic data, thereby preventing race from being a consideration in the eyes of the state. This would apply to public colleges and universities.
The idea is to usher in a "colorblind" age. The underlying conservative assumptions must be that we've already achieved that Utopian, "meritocratic" society: that grade-school education presents a level playing field for every student of the state, and that without considering race, the racial interests of public education will still be served. That we're removing the bit and saddle from the horse rather than the bull.
Recent history would suggest otherwise:
What justice requires is not that each case be decided on its own merits (whatever that would mean) but that any decision reached in a particular case follow some rationally defensible set of considerations. It would be reprehensible if the decision were flatly arbitrary, traceable to no logic of selection whatsoever, but so long as there is a logic of selection, and one that could be justified with reference to a moral and education vision, the individual inequities it yields will in an important sense be principled.(I was able to find the quote from this paper, which I found Google-style.) To try to be brief with his thesis (and I highly recommend the whole essay, particularly if you sometimes feel conflicted in your support/opposition to affirmative action), he basically suggests that the concept of "fairness" arises when there are rival visions of justice; that "merit" is by no means fully accomplished by "test scores" and that criteria for merit serve individual interests; that "diversity" serves an interest of higher education, but not necessarily the (majority) individual interest; and that "fairness," being a concept based on a flux of historical vectors and social constructs, will always present casualties.
It's too large a topic to really deliver in a post, but I did want to advertise that Fish essay. "Merit" seems to be lobbied about in the debate as if it were a concrete variable. One of my favorite anecdotes about merit comes from September 11th: about a month later, I read an interview with an FBI agent, who said that the recruiting criteria for the agency needed to be completely retooled. He indicated that for probably 15 years agents were being selected primarily by their computer/tech sophistication and excellent academic records, and were promoted along similar standards. They were hiring, well, nerds. 9/11 instantly antiquated this agent prototype, in favor of the candidate who displays guts, takes risks, follows intuition and cand actually do field work. It's never a surprise how quickly we can realign our priorities.
On another tangent, consider how the office of the presidency has changed: The president now is more commander-in-chief than head of state--how recent is that development in the office?
posted by kriston at 9:33 AM........
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Frankly, Murdoch, Franken Just Don't Give a DamnMatthew Yglesias is directing the troops to add "Fair and Balanced" to their weblogs so as to piss on Rupert Murdoch. So it is written, so shall it be done. If you hadn't heard, FOX is suing Al Franken for using its trademark ("Fair and Balanced") in the title of his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
Since it's on the table, I'll note that I don't think this suit is a concern. If "fair and balanced" doesn't fall under fair usage, and it may not, the courts will certainly recognize the parody at play. Regardless, the champagne's a-bubblin' at Franken's PR department: Nothing says sales like the target of your book going into a frenzy over its publication. Even if a certain retribution wasn't the intent of the lawsuit--FOX really had no choice but to protect its trademark from infringement--Franken'll have the keys to the bank once this circus leaves town.
UPDATE: To give credit where it's due, it looks like the inestimable Atrios started the revolution, and Atrios lists a good number of weblogs that have converted to fairness and balance. (So does Blah3.) That's all good n' fun, but if you want to really see some impact, check out Franken's book on Amazon. As of this writing the book has climbed to #4, which is a 500% increase in sales since the news broke. Thanks, Rupee!
Now, don't toss your copy of Wes aside just 'cause Al Franken showed up with his sexed-up book....
posted by kriston at 3:38 PM........
The G.p Book ChallengeWell, more of an invitation, really. Reading Kevin Drum's item on premonitions that Wesley Clark will announce his candidacy on Labor Day, I came up with an (obvious) idea. Calpundit's going to read Clark's book, Waging Modern War, and so am I, and I suggest that we all take a peak and have a good, quality share about it. If Clark runs, we've learned something about the man, and potentially the book will inform our vote. If he doesn't run, well, you learned something about Kosovo, so stop complaining about a book, you Nazi.
Holla back in the comments if you're in, because book clubs are more fun with friends. Maybe on, say, Sundays, I'll leave an open post for comments over a range of chapters for whoever's reading. That'll be the plan--so go buy your book or tell your library to come up off a copy before Sunday. I'll follow-up later, once I have mine in hand.
POSTSCRIPT: Though they let me rave for free, Blog*spot is missing some of the organizational tools I've spied on other, less cheap bloggers' pages. I'll just repost this ad from time to time, I guess, unless absolutely no one is interested in reading a book by an interesting, possibly historic figure. Plus it's about war. Seriously.
For the recently resituated, institutions like book clubs and Scrabble are more fun than friends, or are at least good fun in lieu of friends, so forgive the pleading.
posted by kriston at 3:04 PM........
The Army of Progress vs One Stupid College KidCourtesy of Sue and Not U, it appears that a student responding to our alma mater's newspaper has come under the attention of the Lidless Gaze of Atrios. Brendan Steinhauser, 'executive director of the Young Conservatives of Texas,' looking to pick an argument with Laura Isensee's article (she's an old friend, as it turns out) has more than met his match with the Minions of Eschaton. I see that Steinhauser and his ilk have already been termed "moronic brownshirt fucks" in the comments. Violent liberals smell young Republican meat!
The same commenter sagely quotes Mel Brooks: "Don't be stupid, be a smarty / Come and join the Nazi Party!"
posted by kriston at 11:49 AM........
Monday, August 11, 2003
Cutting to the ChaseRobert McIntyre cuts to the quick with an American Prospect piece on Bush's tax cuts. Remember those? Think back: Before the clashes with science, homosexuals, and honesty, the name of the game was class warfare. I think it's important to forget that this bleak horizon hasn't faded:
Thus, contrary to Bush's falsely advertised $1,000, the typical tax cut from this year's tax bill is actually only $120, and it drops to zero after 2004. The best-off 1 percent, however, will do just fine: Their tax cuts will total almost $100,000 each over the next four years, and continue thereafter.I imagine that no matter where in the States you're sitting right now, your $120 will be more than accounted for by a reciprocal increase in local/state taxes.
One should almost be impressed by Bush's ability to negotiate appearances.
Good thing that our nation's economy is built upon the shoulders of single parents, or I'd be afraid for our state in a decade.
posted by kriston at 6:48 PM........
"All the Federales say..."Catching up on the re-redistricting news today, I see that the Texas 11 have written to President Bush for support. I believe the official White House response was, "My ass." Willie Nelson sent word that the truest Texan of 'em all thinks the Dems are heroes. And finally, so far none of the bounty hunters suggested by Governor Rick Perry and OK'd by State Attorney General Greg Abbott have yet arrived in New Mexico. At least, none have made it through the police security detail provided by Dem-friendly New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.
Obviously, this redistricting crisis would have been put to an end much earlier, but The Terminator (R-CA) is currently unavailable for mercenary commissions.
By God, California won't beat us out for the national spotlight. Our Republicans're ornerier'n Hell!
posted by kriston at 10:43 AM........