Saturday, October 11, 2003
For Chrissake...I'm rooting for Boston and all, but Pedro could've stepped aside. He owes NY an apology.
Probably the first time in recent history that NY was on the side of the just....
posted by kriston at 7:50 PM........
Can There Be a Decent Right?Reading over some of these posts, which seem to be running along a theme, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my good friend JR back in Austin. (Names have been changed to protect the blog-less.) He's typically not outspoken about his political beliefs, but one night at a bar, quite out of the blue, he asked me (and I quote loosely), "Do you think that this is what it was like in 1930s Germany? That this is what it was like leading up to something insane and never seen before?" And I think he asked by extension, were we basically Vichy France, a nation trying hard to explain the irrational as rational, not recognizing the threat for what it is? When do you acknowledge that things have gone too far?
And then I have to point to Kevin Drum's thorough fisking of the Texas Republican Party Platform of 2000 (with more here), which he describes as the essential lunatic mantra that has absorbed the Republican Party of our nation. This minority is no longer fractional, nor fringe, nor limited to AM radio and rural local government (unless you can somehow argue that FOX News and the state of Texas are inconsequential). I'll list his shorter but absolutely precise points about the Texas Republican platform:
So, can there be a decent right?
Doesn't look promising.
posted by kriston at 12:04 PM........
Times Insane, Got No BrainSince we're on the subject of pervasive right-wing madness, let's talk about the Washington Times. If you're not familiar with our city's crown jewel of journalism, it's wholly run by Rev. Sun Myung Moon and company, and is probably the most far-right newspaper in the entire nation.
I was motivated to mention them so that I could pass along a note from Atrios, who reports that the Washington Times's assistant national editor, Robert Stacy McCain, was assigned to review Drew D. Hansen's book, The Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation. I can't substantiate this quote from McCain, but Atrios says he found it at Free Republic :
'[T]he media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sister-in-law, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.'..."And I see little reason to doubt old Atrios after reading McCain's other 'Neo-Confederate' rants. How does this guy McCain have a job? He should be relegated to the creaky front porch of a Texaco, not to a top position at a widely distributed newspaper. And there shouldn't be a widely distributed newspaper that looney. Ask Sue or PG or Matt Yglesias, I'm sure they'll tell you that it's creepy to see so many people reading the paper. Just looking at the front page, you know exactly where they're coming from.
UPDATE: Atrios corrects the source of McCain's quote, a listserve discussion from 1996, not the Freeper Republic.
And that source would be la-la-land.
posted by kriston at 11:45 AM........
Friday, October 10, 2003
A Familiar HarangueI just don't know what to say to this twit from the WSJ opinion pages:
Today marks the beginning of prestige season at the movies. The rollout of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" will be followed in the coming weeks by "The Matrix: Revolutions," "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," "Cold Mountain," "The Human Stain" and other high-profile releases. What you won't see this fall--or winter, or spring, or summer for that matter--is a single movie about the war on terror.I have a sincere problem with the conservative notion that we ought to be memorializing the war on terror (read: War in Iraq, up to "Mission Accomplished") while there is serious doubt as to its outcome. I also have problems dealing with the notion that war necessitates a big-budget blockbuster, and the fact that this man is employed.
Of course we have movies about terrorism—hell, I love a good, fantasy-based Jack Ryan-style movie. One of those last screened in 2002: The Sum of All Fears. That terror movies are screened all the time escaped this twit—his fetishistic problem with that film, for example, is that the enemies aren't Arabs, an absence caused by (drum roll... you guessed it!) political correctness. He doesn't want a movie, or entertainment, of course, but self-affirming propoganda.
(My close friends: You may roll your eyes and skip this next graf if you so wish. Maybe the rest of you ought to as well.)
I blame this base desire for immediate, romantic war cinema on Steven Spielberg. Saving Private Ryan might be one of the most irresponsible movies ever made. People have come to crave these effulgent flicks featuring apple-cheeked, brushed studs plucked right from the quarterback's huddle and ushered to Strange and Foreign Parts, where they ride a gushing crescendo of orchestral strings through anywhere from ninety minutes to three hours of sermons on Mom, God, Tom Landry, and the general glory of being healthy, wealthy, white American Christians, all the while suffering the occasional well-timed honorable sacrifice in service and concomitant dying-of-the-light monologue, all the while killing enemies who have no names, no mothers, and no God. It's intellectual gonzo pornography. These war n' honor blockbusters are to callousness what McDonald's is to obsesity.
Think the soldiers in Iraq are interested in this movie? Imagine they want to replay the good ol' days of the war on terror?
posted by kriston at 7:32 PM........
Total War II: War HarderMr. Manners himself, Donald Luskin—good Christ, he has a weblog—weighs in on the civility lessons being waged between David Brooks and Paul Krugman. The only thing you need to know is that Luskin uses the anti-word "unimpactful" twice. No, not "impactful", itself an unword, but the prefixed antonym for the unword, making it far too much for me to bear.
The only word I hate more than impactful is unimpactful.
posted by kriston at 2:11 PM........
NPRgumentsOctober's not turning out so hot for NPR's Terry Gross. First, in an October 2nd segment on Fresh Air, Grover Norquist compared the Estate Tax to the Holocaust in no uncertain terms. If, like me, you think that's too insane a comment for any not-Hitler person to espouse, much less defend, the boys at Metajournalism have a good chunk of transcript for you. Note the part when Grover Norquist does not say, "The Estate Tax is in no way a persecution comparable to the Holocaust." (Think the Grover would call the Bush administration Solidarity?)
I can only assume that Ms. Gross is being hazed by some Greek organization, because there's no other explanation for the fact that she was dressed down by Bill O'Reilly in an interview on her show less than a week later. (Which you can also stream.) When she asked him point-blank about the lies that Al Franken reported in his notorious new book, he told her she ought to be ashamed of herself and marched out of the interview.
'Great, KC,' you're saying, 'O'Reilly and Norquist are assholes, and Terry Gross is a pledge. What else is new, beyond the bizarre image in my mind of Terry Gross doing jello-shots?' Well, when you hear Bill O'Reilly explain himself to US House Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), you see the the path between point A and point 1984:
O'REILLY: In this age of massive deficits for the federal government, when a lot of the country just is appalled by their conduct at NPR, that you guys got to take aggressive action and say look, either you run the network responsibly, ore you're not getting a nickel. Period.Newspeak at its finest.
Or maybe more signs of Woland's arrival....
posted by kriston at 1:11 PM........
Total WarIn a NYT column in September (I think), David Brooks argued that though conservatives soiled the rhetoric of political debate in America, they're sorry, and now it's time for everyone to be civil. Paul Krugman writes today that though some conservatives say "they're sorry, and now it's time for everyone to be civil," some conservatives actually mean to say to liberals, "shut up," and to conservatives, "liberals, shut up." Is Krugman right?
Brooks's column*, he columnizes the following:
The core threat to democracy is not in the White House, it's the haters themselves. And for those who are going to make the obvious point: Yes, I did say some of these things during the Clinton years, when it was conservatives bashing a Democrat, but not loudly enough, which I regret, because the weeds that were once on the edge of public life now threaten to choke off the whole thing.Elsewhere in his column, he names some of the weeds choking democracy: Molly Ivins (liberal), Loud Debose (liberal), Michael Moore (a Hollywood liberal), Al Franken (liberal), Jonathan Chait (liberal), Ted Kennedy (a Kennedy liberal), Howard Dean (liberal), and Wesley Clark (liberal). Brooks vaguely alludes to a distant time when conservatives invaded the garden, and goes so far as to mention a single conservative by genus and species (Harold Bloom, "The Closing of the American Mind," from 1987.)
See if you can figure out where to substitute Brooks's name in Krugman's column:
Some say that the right, having engaged in name-calling and smear tactics when Bill Clinton was president, now wants to change the rules so such behavior is no longer allowed. In fact, the right is still calling names and smearing; it wants to prohibit rude behavior only by liberals.And I don't think it's going to get much more polite than this.
* Brooks link courtesy of Kevin Drum's readers.
posted by kriston at 11:34 AM........
Post-DebateYou'll have to get the Democratic presidential debate post-game survey from someone else; unfortunately, I couldn't break away from work until about 10p. Anyone want to talk about the highlights? I'm hearing that John Edwards showed up.
Would my drinking game predictions at least have me sloshed?
posted by kriston at 8:27 AM........
Thursday, October 09, 2003
The Only Subject on which I Will Offer Myself Up as AuthorityWho the hell wrote Slate's Democratic debate drinking game, Bill Bennett? Drink when "a candidate refuses to answer a hypothetical question"? Huh? I'm not listening for rhetorical counterstrategies, I'm drinkin'! Plus Slate's writer used "flourishes" and "tipple" in the description of a drinking game, which tells me she wasn't drinking when she wrote it.
You want drunk, we'll give you drunk. This won't be Bob Dole falling-off-the-stage drunk, or Tom DeLay drunk-with-absolute-power-that-corrupts-absolutely drunk. We're going to do this the Democratic way—we're going to do this Ted Kennedy drunk.
posted by kriston at 5:08 PM........
Don't Act Like You Don't CareHe's an MFA candidate at my alma mater, but you know him better as the Queer Eye That Bravo Forgot, James Hannaham. ('Member, the black Culture Guy for one episode?) Courtesy of the inestimable PG, a dicey tell-all that really didn't tell me much except that I need to get on the horn, call my UT writer friend, and arrange my fabulous yet-almost-tragically non-sexual rendez-vous with Ted Allen, whom j'adore.
Hey, casting call for Queer Eye for G.p—when I put this weblog on its own site its going to need a facelift. Digital Austin metrosexuals, I'm looking in your direction...
posted by kriston at 11:28 AM........
What Has Science Done?Matthew Yglesias quotes some nerd who insists on splitting hairs about the botu-blah blah thingee found in David Kay's report:
This is not correct and is exactly what he'd like you to think. The vial is of the bacteria, botulinum, and definitely not the toxin that the bacteria can, in certain cases, create. You've eaten plenty of the stuff yourself. The warning on jars of honey that suggest not giving it to kids under the age of 1 refers to this organism. There's a reasonable amount of it in most honey (and dirt, and...) and everyone over the age of 1 needn't even think about its presence.Make that read "everyone over the age of 1 needn't even think about this nerd" and then we'll have a report you can take to the bank, or the UN. Why these geeks are all blinding me with science while the Bush administration must face terrorist-sponsoring states and worldwide proliferation of WMD, also known as honey, I couldn't tell you.
Speaking of shrill science, listen to Wesley Clark's subpar cocktail party analysis of special relativity:
And we need to look at the realms of applied and higher mathematics. I still believe in E=mc2, but I can't believe that in all of human history we'll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go. I happen to believe that mankind can do it. I've argued with physicists about it. I've argued with best friends about it. I just, I just have to believe it. It's my only faith-based initiative.Not only is he a questionable Democrat, he's a questionable conceptual physicist! Better leave the hard science to Republicans—say, EPA chief nominee Mike Leavitt, who knows when sensitive wetlands would better serve the environment as a "football field wide and 125-mile long" superhighway.
No doubt the Bush administration has political science down to a, uh, an art....
posted by kriston at 11:00 AM........
Hillsdale Academy, p.VI wrote Jonah Goldberg again, hoping to clarify my position, with a rehash of my earlier email. (Scroll down for previous installments.) He responded in kind:
I think the word you keep skipping is "obsessive" in "obsessive focus." There's nothing wrong with ignoring texts with "obsessive" foci (focuses?) is there? For example, there are all sorts of textbooks which treat american history as the story of the civil rights movement and slavery and that's it. Both are very important and real, but they are hardly the sum total of American history. At many colleges it's impossible to take a class on the federalist papers, the American founding, the revolutionary war or all sorts of other important episodes of american history, but there are dozens of courses on black cinema, black literature etc. Again, all good subjects, but hardly so important so as to exclude mainstream American history. Go find my black history month column in my archives to see where I come down on this.I'll respond to this in a moment, but first I'd like to direct everyone to Richard Just's response at TAPPED to Jonah Goldberg's post at The Corner in which he calls Just a bigot. Jonah says, "I did look at the ad myself and I drew one inescapable conclusion: I think Richard Just is a bigot." (Which is remarkable—I found it exceedingly difficult to pick out Richard from the small crowd of WASPy children in the ad.) Just directs our attention to Aaron Bailey, another National Review writer who is also an alum of Hillsdale College (that would be Hillsdale Academy's charter school.) Bailey says, "In 1955, the football team refused an invitation to play in the Tangerine Bowl because the event organizers would not let Hillsdale's black students play." If that's true, it's laudable—in the Chris Rock 'that's what you're supposed to do' sense of the word—but it makes me wonder, why does the school yearn for such an age? In Hillsdale's own words, "And if the Hillsdale Academy Reference Guide leaves readers with the impression that attending the Academy is very much like going to a good school in the 1950s, our founders will be delighted." Exactly what about the 50s was so delightful, anyway? That conservative nostalgia has always bugged me, but we can talk about that another time.
And as Just pointed out, it has no bearing on the ad. With even only a passing familiarity with the power of persuasion—the bedrock of the advertising psyche—your Spidey-sense should be tingling. "Want to Bring Back 'The Good Old Days'?" + "reading of classical texts in original editions free of 'politically correct' revisionist rewrites" + photos of 11 white children = Doctor Octopus-level Spidey-sense tingling. Such tingling is upgraded to Green-Goblin-and-the-rest-of-the-Sinister-Six-plus-Venom levels when various former employees describe the school with phrases like "a community of fear," "a Gestapo police state," and "a Stalinist kind of environment." Did I mention that they skip over the chapter dealing with slavery in their 8th grade American history class?
From the tons of comments I'm getting about this, I realize I'm not chasing the most important story in the history of g-policin'. I'll spare you my email response to Goldberg and consider the issue signed, sealed, and delivered—if you do want to keep up, read Just and Goldberg hash it out in their respective pages. Fellow Spider-men, be vigilant!, because Mysterio has all kinds of illusionary ways to make powerful backwards racial suggestions look like "the liberal love of diversity."
Now the Sandman, whew, that's a whole 'nother issue. No one beats that guy.
posted by kriston at 8:43 AM........
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Hillsdale Academy, p.IVSurprisingly (and quickly), Jonah Goldberg responded to my email. Sort of:
You should look at the further posts on Hillsdale in the corner since this morning. I like St. Johns, too, by the way. And I don't think they teach any books younger than 100 years old for the first few years at least.That's the response. I think that because I didn't start my letter with "F*ck off, you Bushwanker swine!", he didn't recognize it as the shrill, liberal criticism it was intended to be. I don't know what St. Johns (?) refers to, but I didn't mention it. And Hillsdale definitely deals with books written in the last 100 years. Most of them, in fact, are quite current; my biggest gripe in this regard was that their 8th grade American History textbook ends at 1991.
However, 1991 was the year that Ronald Reagan demolished the Soviet Union, which was pretty much the apex of American history as far as conservatives are concerned—until W. stepped on the scene, of course. Oh, I kid—as if I believe Reagan had anything to do with it.
Guess I'll try Jonah again...
posted by kriston at 3:18 PM........
HousecleaningYer ol' favorite G.p will be at a more permanent home than blogspot sometime in the very near future. That ought to take care of the comments problems—don't worry, I echo your frustrations, since I've lost comments here, too. Unfortunately, until the upgrade, I'm not likely to find the inspiration to fix whatever it is that's causing comments to be such a hassle, so I hope you'll bear with me.
Also, if anyone out there has done the switch to Movable Type and recommend a way to do this without having to learn computer garbage that I cannot learn, I'd appreciate the tip.
Big changes a-comin'!
posted by kriston at 3:05 PM........
Hillsdale Academy, p.IIIJust noticed an update from Jonah Goldberg at NRO, in which he pastes an email from Ken Calvert, Headmaster of Hillsdale Academy:
It is interesting that our minority population at the Academy is 12% compared to 1% in the local, Hillsdale public schools. The "minorities" in Hillsdale County obviously choose us because of the rigor we provide rather than the condescending, pandering, liberal gibberish provided by those who thought our advertisement was too "white."I'll respond by first noting that not only was the advertisement in question too white, but in fact all of Hillsdale's literature is quite bleached, including its 223-page reference guide and all of the background pictures to be found online. I kept track today while I perused their literature and found one picture of a girl of Asian descent among dozens of pictures of white children. (I don't think it was too odd a thing to keep track of, considering how it was Just's original observation.) Indeed, if 12% of the student body are "minorities" than this advertising is not only misrepresentative and unfortunate, it's inexcusable.
But more to the point: Calvert ought to respond to the fact that the literary and historical curriculum include no texts pertaining to Martin Luther King Jr, slavery, The Emancipation Proclamation and its effects, or the Civil Rights era. Hillsdale apparently does a grave misservice to not 1%, not 12%, but 100% of its students.
(Parts I and II of this story may be found by clicking away.)
Maybe I ought to ask Mr. Goldberg to contact him for me.
posted by kriston at 2:52 PM........
Open Letter to Jonah GoldbergThe following is an email I sent today to Jonah Goldberg of National Review, regarding a post in The Corner in which he responds to Richard Just's TAPPED post on Hillsdale Academy and its advertisements, which I also excoriated at length after reading Just's post. Take a look:
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
Regarding your 9:34am post in NRO's The Corner this morning, in which you refute Richard Just's strong criticism of a Hillsdale Academy advertisement to be found at your website: I'd like to show you a few quotes from the Hillsdale Academy reference guide, which I accessed here (you might also try here.):
You note that Richard Just from the Prospect's Tapped exhibits confirmation bias in his response to the school's advertisement. Indeed, you are correct that the school exists in an overwhelmingly white region, and thus features an overwhelmingly white population. Regardless of the absence of minorities in this part of Michigan, they do exist elsewhere in American and have had an impact on its history—but you wouldn't know that from perusing the school's literature and history schedules. The absence of a diverse local community seems all the more reason to ensure that white students are exposed as best as possible to other cultural and racial perspectives, but that is far from the mission of Hillsdale.
You mention that you have personal experience with the school, so I would like to hear your explanation of these facts. From these facts I'm quite lead to certain conclusions, but if you can, please refute what clearly amounts to a program predicated upon a distorted understanding of the role and value of racial diversity in this nation.
I'm not holding my breath for a response, but if one comes, you'll be the first to hear.
posted by kriston at 2:29 PM........
Blazing Ahead or Burning Bridges?Seth (scroll down) and Mattie (ditto) are reacting to news that Clark's campaign manager, Donnie Fowler, resigned last night and not under the brightest circumstances. Seth says it's time to distance himself from Clark and Mattie smells all kinds of Al Gore in Wes's campaign, but I think they're both overreacting.
Growing pains. Choppy waters. It's negative news but it's hardly enough blood in the water to send the media into a frenzy, what with the California brouhaha and the fact that the tea-leaves reading Democrats out there who genuinely care about the color and shape of Clark's campaign management at this point number in the dozens. There's a point at which internecine squabbling is unacceptable and will take on a bad public face; so maybe with Fowler's resignation we'll see a little less of it. I'm a Clark supporter, not a Fowler supporter. Let it be a lesson to Clark that he ought to knock some heads around, and let that be that.
Clark's campaign isn't going to become Dean's campaign any time soon. Entering the race as late and unprepared as he did, it makes sense that Clark would neglect for a time the resources he has in plenty (energized supporters) and focus fully on obtaining resources he severely lacks (money). Dean of course milked the former for the latter, but there's not time for Clark to both plant the seeds and reap the crop now—and besides, he's already working that angle pretty well by asking supporters to discuss Fowler's resignation on Clark's weblog and stuffing my inbox pretty regularly with updates. What more do the grassroots people need? In the meantime, there's also a third level of support that both Clark and Dean will need—institutional endorsements, from the editorial pages, PACs, and boardrooms across the nation—and in this regard Clark is going to smoke Dean, if Kerry doesn't beat them both first.
This is nothing to jump ship over, but if you really want some eyebrow-raising fare, ask Clark why he's still participating in paid appearances, sometimes raking in as much as $30,000, now that he's a presidential candidate. Even if he somehow avoids charges of federal election law violations, it's still not a line Clark has any business skating. "Illegal campaign contributions"—now that sounds horrible.
But hot damn, Dean's campaign is definitely appealing.
posted by kriston at 9:13 AM........
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Don't Win One for the GroperReading Jeanne d'Arc's passionate post condemning Arnold Schwarzenegger reminded me that I ought not treat his candidacy/eminent election too lightly, especially after I wrote just today about why it's important to give political correctness its due. Mea culpa, folks: Sometimes I don't make sense like that.
I don't agree with Ms. d'Arc that Arnold's election would necessarily have a dramatic impact on the women's issues that she (and I) feel strongly about. Schwarzenegger may regard women wrongly, but still advocate policies that protect the freedom of choice, equal pay, etc. We're all led to think of Clinton here. And while we're thinking about Clinton, we could talk all day long about the relevance of moral propriety in political positions, about whose sex scandals are worse and all that—but to take it back from the abstract for a moment, I do not want a candidate elected concerning whom it may be said:
Also "improper sexual behavior" might be a reasonable way to describe an extramarital affair, but it's far too generous a way to refer to Arnold Schwarzenegger's harassment and assault of women. It's truly frightening how many of Schwarzenegger's fans view assault as no more than "improper." Spitting in church is improper. Trying to strip a woman in an elevator is criminal. But the reaction of Arnold's Army, as Steve Lopez, one of the LA Times' best columnists, called it, indicates why this story is important, why it not only deserves, but requires publication. It's not just that we don't want a man who brutalizes people -- men as well as women -- as governor, as important as that is. Brutalizing women isn't just part of his private behavior -- which would be bad enough -- it's his carefully crafted image, an image he has cultivated since the beginning of his career, having realized early on that there was an audience for invented stories of gang raping a black woman (and I do not believe that Schwarzenegger's specifying the race of the victim was insignificant; if he simply made up a story about humiliating a woman, why did he choose to make his victim black?), just as there is an audience who enjoys vicariously jamming a woman's head in a toilet. Arnold Schwarzenegger has built a career on hurting people in humiliating ways, and then keeps the damage going afterwards by encouraging an audience to be aware of the non-pc pleasure it. (It was not insignificant, either, that he took note of women's groups who might have complained about the toilet scene. The pleasure is clearly magnified by the opportunity to stick it to uppity women.)"Brutalize" is too strong a word for what I've read about Schwarzenegger's wrongdoings. (And, in fact, in Arnold's lie the gangbang was consensual, though it no way excuses Arnold's clear objectification/subjugation of race.) We can condemn his actions for what they are, without having to resort to our strongest mode of language—the actions themselves speak quite loudly enough: It's enough to have the boss fired, it's worse than "bad behavior." If I did these things publicly, I know I'd quickly find the business end of an ass-kicking from my friends. A voter ought to have every confidence that an elected leader will pursue with vigor and aggressiveness legislation that protects and bolsters women's status in society—along with every minority. It is not enough for a candidate to acknolwedge that the world is not the white boys' club he sometimes pretends it is, or wishes it was, and his short apologies ought to bring voters no security of mind when, for example, immigration issues are of central concern for the state. So while I think his election would not necessarily be a harbinger of ruin for the state's immigrants, minorities, or women, I see little in the way of positive prospects for them in his candidacy, and see nothing worth defending.
So, I'll write more and better tomorrow, and try not to let bad dudes off the hook.
UPDATE: Bad behavior begets bad behavior—lesser known (except among 18-24 year-old straight guys like myself) Cali candidate Georgy Russell reports that she was bullied and roughhoused at an Schwarzenegger rally by his supporters.
I'm very curious to see if reports will continue to emerge about Arnold's lasciviouos aggressions. I don't think that the most recent allegation, reported today, will be the last.
posted by kriston at 5:04 PM........
Win One for the Groper!That was our pub-trivia team name last night—witty, but the sublime could was tapped with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Aorta." Another nice suggestion for our team name was "I Fucked Valerie Plame"—pure gold from Sue and Not U.
Anyway, about the recall, what with it being recall day: I noticed at CNN that they say the recall was "borne out of voter discontent with the state's economy and dissatisfaction with the incumbent Democrat's leadership." Not that frustration wasn't rife in California, but it's incontrovertible that the recall was Darryl Issa's brainchild. I understand—it rings with partisanship, so the media steers clear—but Issa did spend the millions on the anti-campaign, and he did spearhead the canvassing efforts. A minor gripe.
I don't want to comment on the Schwarzenegger groping charges, because beyond pausing to read the gossip, I haven't put any thought to it. I will say that, if I can do so without offending my female readership, I now fully endorse Arnold. Think about it:
He's pro-choice, socially liberal Republican who's (kind of) eco-friendly, inhereting a total disaster of a state budget that neither he nor Davis, nor Bustamante, has a hope of fixing. So long as the ship has to sink, might as well send a Republican captain down with it.
It's utterly ridiculous to think this has any bearing on 2004—Californians will vote Democratic-as-all-hell like they always do in the presidential election. Arnold, in the meantime, will do his four and Cali will give him the boot, and when California returns their mandate to its rightful owners, the Democrats will be ready with a candidate worthy of carrying it. Plus, Arnold made Kindergarten Cop.
So even if you hate the idea of Schwarzenegger as governor, recognize that the worst thing you can do to him would be to elect him. We'll see.
Another post continuing in today's theme: Absolutely rotten writing!
posted by kriston at 3:14 PM........
Truth in AdvertisingThe next time some wise-ass tells you that PC has run its course, introduce them to pastoric Hillsdale Academy, whose advertisements not only feature the beaming faces of eleven white children (clean! not a speck of mud!) but promises "teaching of moral character," and more attractively, "reading of classical texts in original editions free of 'politically correct' revisionist rewrites." Nudge them toward the literature of such acclaimed lecturers as Herbert Meyer, who served as special assistant to the director of the CIA and also as vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council:
It’s obvious that something is wrong with the CIA. The 9/11 attacks were, by definition, the worst intelligence failure in our country’s history. More recently, we have had trouble locating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and have been consumed by the flap over whether the CIA signed off on President Bush’s accurate observation in his State of the Union speech that British intelligence believes Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium ore in Niger.Timely!
For the obstinate skeptic, maybe you ought to suggest that he review the faculty recommended reading list, featuring (I kid you not!) 21 books by Anglo-Saxon Christian males. Unless you're into Heritage Foundation lectures (at Hillsdale, they're called "books"), you're not going to recognize many of the names beyond J.R.R. Tolkien and Douglas Adams. (Well, one teacher does mention 1984, but in deference to a novel by C.S. Lewis featuring "far superior characters and character development." How often Orwell falls prey to Lewis!) Rest assured, no voice not extolling the white male experience will be broadcast.
Don't take my word for it—ask Tracy Levine, who promotes the Hillsdale plan beyond the school's four walls as a model for homeschooling:
In all grades, emphasis is placed on moral development through daily prayers, Bible reading and a variety of activities that are spiritual in orientation without being denominational. Patriotism is promoted daily.Look. After 15 minutes of googling this school, I'm thoroughly revolted. (If you want to feel truly wretched, take a look at all of the educational advertisements from the National Review; most of them are equally bad, but Hillsdale was the only one that was subtle about it.) Sometimes I have to remind myself about how relevant political correctness, affirmative action, and such institutions still are. We are quite far from the "Mission Accomplished" banner conservatives would like to hoist over liberal (PC) thought. Take a look at that advertisement and it's banner: "Want to Bring Back the Good Old Days?" and say it with me—no fucking way.
Link courtesy of TAPPED; burning intensity of a thousand white-hot suns courtesy of yours truly.
Fuck that un-PC bullshit.
posted by kriston at 2:20 PM........
Send in the GimpHouse Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Hell) is now overseeing Texas redistricting ridiculousness. Outrageous—his charming interpersonal diplomacy skills aren't doing the trick:
As the Senate's chief mapmaker, Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, left Monday night, he said, "At this point, there is no deal." U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was in the state Capitol on Monday trying to help hammer out a final compromise on redrawing the state's congressional boundaries.It seems that if they can't put a deal together by this weekend, a map will not be submitted in time for approval, and Texas's March 2 primaries will be pushed back. No matter, say Republicans, who are hell bent on redistricting, even if they drag every Texas political convention down with it. Texas voters were never privy to the maps currently under debate:
The new political map for Travis County represents a change in direction from the maps approved last month by the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. Those maps would have left Travis County largely as it is, split between Doggett and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.No matter, say Republicans, that proper representation is being denied to three of the largest population centers in the state, including the capital; no matter, say Republicans, that maps shown to voters in community meetings bear no resemblance to the cut-and-paste hackjobs being pushed currently. No matter, say Republicans, that the redistricting effort will carry over into a fourth, $1.5 million special session, and only because of Republicans.
The only thing that matters to Republicans is Republicans.
So go knock some heads around, Tom—be the crony thug you truly are, and show us all how dirty the Texas Republican party really is. I hereby swear, I am donating money to the campaign of the Sugarland Democrat that runs against Tom DeLay.
I genuinely hate him.
posted by kriston at 1:02 PM........
Court Ruling Has Broad ImplicationsThe FCC has had a tough year: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the FCC could not follow through with rules permitting cable companies to exclude competitors from existing broadband/cable infrastructures. Yet another stab at deregulation, the proposed measures were intended to encourage big cable companies to continue investing in "sophisticated fiber-optic networks," the underlying belief being that if said infrastructure is open to competition there will be no incentive to invest.
There's many reasons why this incentive argument isn't grounded in a terrific concern, but even taking it at face value there's plenty of room for the market to adjust without resorting to monopoly-building. Broadband infrastructure development has a technological analog in the past: the transcontinental railroad, privately built, with companies partially recompensated by federal subsidies at a rate proportionate to the length of rail laid and difficulty of terrain. Similar federal Internet regulations could stimulate competition without stiffing the forebearers of broadband infrastructure. What's needed for national broadband regulation is, well, a national broadband policy; Powell and the FCC are certainly justified in decrying the ancient rules that govern cable and telephone as insufficient for regulating the Internet. Still, the alternative to regulation—broadband giants bloated on the corpses of younger service providers—is hardly the way to encourage competition and better service.
Even better, the opening of the broadband rails is already happening:
Even though cable companies are not required to open their networks to rivals, companies have begun to do so voluntarily in a few markets. Comcast Corp. has reached deals with six Internet service providers, including AOL Broadband, EarthLink and United Online Inc., to offer their competing brands of services in some markets.The market apparently thinks it's a good idea to share.
So long as it all gets cheaper. I'm a big fan of these new package deals—I'll take my broadband with cheesy sticks and a Pepsi, please.
posted by kriston at 11:46 AM........
Confirmation BiasIn an otherwise topical column on Bernard-Henri Levy's factual novel, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, George Will takes a cheap shot:
Anti-American French rightists, says Levy, disdain America as an "inauthentic" nation. They understand authenticity in tribal terms -- as a function of racial homogeneity reflected in cultural uniformity. Sound familiar? It should. It is an ingredient of fascism.George Will hears a resonance of fascism in the French anti-Americanism that Levy pooh-poohs, but I think that's neither Levy's interpretation of French sentiment nor the French's sentiment in general.
In the latter case, it would be hard, after all, for the French to express such a visceral, muscular allergy to American policy and culture if there were not a vibrant American notion in the first place—unless it is Will's belief that the French are stolidly reacting to a handful of American foreign policy activists, and that isn't Will's belief. America, in its overwhelmingly homogenous support for the war, is certainly "authentic" by these terms. Moreover, the French are obstinately pushing for immediate national autonomy for Iraq—and if there is a more concocted nation on the planet (other than Israel) I'd like to hear about it. The French don't seem to have qualms about Iraq's "authenticity," so even if they say the United States is inauthentic, 1 they would be wrong, 2 they would be contradicting themselves, and 3 it still wouldn't be fascism. Sometimes the French hold their long, treasured history over our heads, but for Will to make an indictment of fascism out of this is taking a gripe too far.
In the former case of Levy, the writer is drawing a broad conclusion about how some Frenchmen have come to a correct anti-war stance by way of an erroneous justification. In interviews Levy expresses the same hesitation that most of Europe feels, but mitigates the point by saying he disagrees with those who "jointly dismiss Bush and bin Laden." There's a nuance there that Will misreads or ignores in his zeal to agree with any anti-French word. For a writer quick enough to cite Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, I think it's a clear case of confirmation bias.
If you enjoy the "I'm right I'm right I'm right" approach to literary analysis and think Will didn't go far enough, try Christopher Hitchens's take—you'll be especially pleased, since Hitch doesn't talk about the book at all!
More on Levy upcoming.
posted by kriston at 11:14 AM........
Monday, October 06, 2003
Literary CurrentsIn the (brilliant) words of Kingsley Amis, literary prizes are all right if you win them. So chalk one up for the University of Chicago, retainer of this year's Nobel Prize-winner in Literature, J.M. Coetzee. The man's taken a lion's share of awards, including Booker prizes in 1983 and 1999. I took a writing course from a Booker prize-winning novelist who thought that literary prizes weren't all right even if you won them, but a writer who clears that much gold ought to be worth his salt.
That's last week's news, of course; I only bring it up to note the devastating defeat handed to the United States when the Nobel committee overlooked American poet G. Walker Bush, whose 2003 work was considered this year's favorite:
Roses are redThe divide between the Americas and the Continent grows ever larger....
Link courtesy of Seth (who has no business writing a weblog on Live Journal.)
Vaclev Havel, eat your heart out.
posted by kriston at 4:19 PM........
Premature ExclamationI'm going to get in trouble for posting this, but it looks like Sue and Not U might be taking her first work trip—to Azerbaijan! It's still a tenuous proposition, so I guess you're supposed to save your huzzahs, but that isn't stopping me.
Stopping to consider the mess that Heidar Aliyev is making of presidential elections in Azerbaijan, it might not be a terrifically productive trip, but so long as he Aliyev abdicates the presidency to his son I imagine Sue won't have to work too hard...
UPDATE: Unfortunately, it looks like Sue's work on the culinarily delightful nation of Georgia will keep her stateside this time around; she'll likely be catching the next boat in the spring. No, I wouldn't say that Susan deliberately leaked this news to me....
Hooray for electioneering!
posted by kriston at 12:26 PM........
Dirt Beneath the DirtOne last thing about the Rush/McNabb controversy, from ESPN Page 2 columnizer Ralph Wiley. Wiley argues that if indeed Rush had any business playing the same social strings on television that he does on his radio show, he'd at least get the football part of it right. Wiley quotes McNabb, who says that Rush isn't even accurate about the media:
"... A free ride from the media in Philadelphia? That's a good one." (McNabb exposed Rush's lack of knowledge of sports media by locale, by reminding us that in Philly he had been booed on draft day, and that Philly fans boo everyone from Mike Schmidt to Santa Claus, let along Donnie McNabb, and that the Philly press, like the New York press, only worse, treats every game outcome as if it were the pivotal battle for World War II, and if you lose; you're a bum).So I think Wiley gets at a tangential but maybe more pertinent point: Why our Philly fans such assholes? City of Brotherly Love? City of black sheep asshole brothers is more like it.
Link courtesy of Mr. Wright (scroll down).
So who do you root for between the Redskins and the Eagles? (My answer was baseball.)
posted by kriston at 11:44 AM........
All Tomorrow's PartiesAn NPR report this morning suggested that the results of tomorrow's California recall election may not be known until Nov. 15th. (I've linked to a Q and A that details the process.) It was striking to hear recall advocates arguing that the in-between time, i.e. the lame-duck period associated with all elections, could lead to a hijacking of California's leadership.
And what would that look like? A million-dollar canvassing effort financed by a single opposition legislator that leads to a $66 million recall election featuring 131 candidates which must be administered posthaste regarldess of the problematic and quasi-legal punch-card ballot system for a full 44% of the electorate and an unproctored/unrecorded touch-screen system for another 10% of voters?
So don't break out the bubbly just yet: California may see lawsuits, challenges, and other democratic hoops to jump through first.
posted by kriston at 8:23 AM........
Sunday, October 05, 2003
The Great Autumn ScoreOctober is probably my favorite month of the year: the turn of the weather, Halloween, autumn cooking, autumn clothing, college football, pro football, pumpkin foods, baseball postseason. Yesterday I saw the Longhorns win, had the first potroast of the season, set some beans to soak and bought a healthy hamhock to cook with them, and scored huge with a distant, suburban world market that carries both Pumpkin Ale and Lone Star. I feel like singing some Charlie Brown seasonal songs and then doing a big Snoopy dance.
Just need a pecan pie to turn this mother out.
posted by kriston at 10:58 AM........