Friday, October 31, 2003
For Whom the Polls TollAll the pouty inside baseball surrounding Wesley Clark's dishevelled campaign team has had me down, but I just came across some chipper news:
Big news for the Clark campaign as the latest ARG poll has him beating John Edwards by 7% to take the lead in South Carolina. Even better for him, he still has far lower name recognition than John Edwards does, with only 50% of undecided voters knowing Clark, while 70% know Edwards. Also interesting is that Clark has the lowest unfavorables of any candidate in SC, a marked contrast to New Hampshire polls, which show Clark with truly puzzling levels of unfavorables.That's news—that's numbers. And hardly news of the death-knoll variety.
More on Clark... when I'm not buzzing from excitement about Halloween.
posted by kriston at 3:29 PM........
Zell Miller: Not a Jedi
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Or try this rather fierce letter.
posted by kriston at 1:48 PM........
Why Are Families Retarded?I swear. In the last two hours I've received an email from every member of my immediate family, all complaining about each other. I even got an email from one of my brother's former roommates complaining about my family. WTF?
This kind of shit's reserved for Thanksgiving.
posted by kriston at 11:40 AM........
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Paglia, Paglia, Paglia...The word that comes to mind is emo, or George Lucas—I'm trying to capture something as irrelevant as Camille Paglia. I mean, there was a time when she made sense, she was topical, right? Maybe everyone moved on, but I think she is responsible for relegating herself to obscurity:
Another sin by the media was their failure to publicize the immense archaeological and artistic past of Iraq, to show America that Iraq wasn't just this desert wasteland over a big puddle of oil. Few people realized that until the National Museum was looted after American troops seized Baghdad. Then came -- the utter hypocrisy! -- tear-stained, hand-wringing articles by those big blowhards at the New York Times: "Oh, the Bush administration are such awful vandals!" Well, where the hell were all of you last year? Why didn't you show the architecture and artifacts of ancient Mesopotamia or Islamic Baghdad under the caliphate?Probably because only three people ever have cared about caliphate-era Mesopotamian art. I've learned from years of watching drool collect on friends' chins that between topics A) mysogenistic perspectives and reinforcing behaviors of the Entered Apprentice in Cremaster 3, B) holy shit, is our country going to war? and C) toss me another Lone Star—well, sometimes people tune out on column A, and you can be sure that the masses won't pay two bits for it. Maybe Paglia really does live in a world where in times of global tension the lack of coverage on the rich history of Persian/Islamic art is somehow irresponsible, and if that's the case, I'd like to visit. But I'll stay home if, in her universe, Clark isn't gorgeous, and none of the Democratic candidates are manly enough to be president:
And the hair! All that faux-Kennedy stuff that Democrats like Kerry and John Edwards can't get rid of. They're so out of it! Don't they see that hair styles have changed and that flowing locks don't signal authority? Look at Bush's short cut -- it's a Roman general's style. Rush Limbaugh hilariously refers to John Edwards as "the Breck Girl" -- perfect! And Edwards' whole chirpy, boyish manner -- who thinks that's going to fly in the age of terrorism?Clark's seeing some bumps in the road to the primaries, but lack of sexual gravitas isn't one of them. And, um, weren't we told that it's bad to evaluate someone's ability to do a job based on their looks?
I mean, the agro-feminist front can't be that dead.
posted by kriston at 3:02 PM........
The Shot Heard Round the 'SphereBill O'Reilly is threatening to sue Al Franken for calling him a "liar." Oh! Wait, we already covered that. Now it's Donald Luskin threatening suit against Atrios for libel. Mr. Luskin, who describes Paul Krugman—his bete noir, or compuslive obsession, however you want to look at it—as a "nervous, stammering, shifty-eyed, twitching, ill-tailored, gray homunculus," is apparently threatening to sue Atrios for comments made in his comments sections, and for this
Diary of a StalkerThis whole hubbub with Luskin started when Paul Krugman in passing referred to Luskin as "a stalker," which even hoi polloi recognize as a common rhetorical device called a "met-a-phor." Luskin, of course, isn't threatening Krugman with a libel suit; if the letter from Luskin's attorney—Jeffrey Upton, which apparently checks out— is to believed, then it's obviously with the intent to "out" Atrios:
As a result of your control over and participation in the comment section of your site, as well as the fact that Mr. Luskin has personally brought these libelous comments to your attention already, you face personal liability for their distribution. Determining your identity for the purpose of making service of process can be easily accomplished through a subpoena to Blogspot.com.Just note that this isn't an isolated incident. If you want to know more about this language war, check out Mr. Franken's book (and you really ought to, because it's hilarious). From this week alone, check out Matthew Yglesias's note about this snippet from a recent column by Michael J. Totten:
Last month at a Democratic Party debate Howard Dean said "we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush." This was during an argument with Dick Gephardt about Medicare. At the same time, the mullahs in Iran and the Stalinist tyrant in North Korea were firing up nuclear weapons programs. Al Qaeda threatens to use whatever nukes they can find to turn the United States into a "sea of deadly radiation." At a time like this, calling George Bush the enemy is more than a little ridiculous.It'd be fine if conservatives wanted to believe that Dean was suggesting actual warfare against George W. Bush, were it limited to this small world called the blogosphere. Sadly, Mr. Franken's book shows all too clearly that through the 24-7 efforts of FOX News and any point on your AM dial, these memes aren't limited to crazies, and they do stick. We're in some kind of sordid state, you know?
THE FUNNY: The Poor Man, as usual, has the last word.
You know, Atrios always ironically refers to Hillary Clinton by her conservative-given monicker, Hitlery, and yet I don't see that suit coming down the pipe. Seriously, WTF?
posted by kriston at 11:08 AM........
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Even When He's Right, He's WrongI don't understand how a man can write a passionate call-to-arms against the Federal Marriage Amendment while in the same breath issuing high praise for a Bush/Rice ticket in 2004. And one right after the other at that.
Widdle Andy, awe we wost? Did someone take ouwe mowal compass?
posted by kriston at 11:13 AM........
"Stovepipe at 6:00—and 8:00!"This is the big article of like a hundred years ago, sure, but if you haven't read Sy Hersh's New Yorker piece on stovepiping—the process by which top dogs circumvented the natural intelligence-vetting process, to get the unassured claims they wanted—then give yourself a hump-day treat. The bizarre and complete mistrust that the neocons/Bush administration have for the intelligence community is well-detailed, and other little tidbits that I'd never heard will grab you. Consider that Hersh has it on good authority that the forged Niger documents were a sort of CIA prank on top senior Bush administration officials:
....“They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,” my source said. “They thought it’d be bought at lower levels—a big bluff.” The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. “It got out of control.”It sure as hell did! War is about as out of control as you get.
War, or naked.
posted by kriston at 9:12 AM........
THE PINK SCARE: A Queer Could Be In Your NeighborhoodHarold Meyerson has an odd tack on gay unions as a wedge that Republicans hope to use against Democrats in 2004. He begins clearly enough, noting that with declining voter confidence in Bush on the economy and foreign policy/national security, Rove thinks a little good ol' fashion bigotry might reinspire voters:
Happily, Republicans have identified a threat right here at home on which the Democrats lack all backbone: marauding Unitarian ministers, cruising back alleys, threatening to swoop up same-sex couples and, before anyone can think better of it, marry them. Listen closely and you can almost hear the whispers: "Hey, big fellas -- wanna tie the knot?"But what does that have to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Since the days when his predecessors governed, and with the waning of the Cold War, opposition to taxes has supplanted anticommunism as the linchpin of American conservatism, and that's a consensus that Arnold won't assail.So... Arnold's going to save gay unions? What Meyerson doesn't get is that the gay wedge isn't going to sway voters. The conservatives at which this measure is aimed aren't confused about the issue—"Do I hate equality? I wish someone would explain"—but are in fact dedicated to opposing gay rights. Rove's plan is to give the 4 million evangelical Christian voters that stayed home in 2000 a weapon to fight radical queer love.
I don't think this will work: I don't see how Rove can make homosexuality any more of a Red Scare than it already is for radical conservatives—than it already was in 2000. And I think in fact the "Pink Scare" will repulse a lot of independents who are already turned off by Bush's policy problems. Regardless, the only thing that Arnold would gain for defending sexual liberty would be the key to San Fransisco and total ostracization from the Republican Party.
Here in DC we practically saw a Bolshevik rally last night: The annual Drag Queen Race, where, well, drag queens race. Sorry to say I missed it.
posted by kriston at 8:47 AM........
It's My Party and I'll Spend $2.2 Million If I Want ToIf you ever have the money to throw Tyco's party, do it. Bad corporate ethics be damned, we're talking about an ice sculpture of Michaelangelo's David that urinated cold Grey Goose.
P-Diddy would be proud.
posted by kriston at 8:14 AM........
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Steinhilbers of the World, Unite and Take OverNow that I've gotten that gripe out of the way, I'll mention an artist I've been meaning to write about for some time: Dan Steinhilber, whose one-artist show, Directions, is ongoing at the Hirshorn through January. You can read the WaPo's short blurb about him—he's got this great "pop povera" style and he's adept at utilizing both indoor and outdoor spaces. I have yet to make it out to the Hirshorn, but I was mesmerized by his piece at the Corcoran and I equally enjoyed what I read about and saw of his Master's presentation for AU (with wife and fellow local jewel, Maggie Michael). After I make the trip out I'll write more about him, and maybe see if I can pick up some JPEGs from the Hirshorn's press. (Curiously, DC's museums are not great about making good photographs available.)
In the meantime, there are some great images from a recent NYC dual-artist exhibition at the Kimberly Venardos Gallery, featuring Dan Steinhilber and Maggie Michael. If you're reading from NYC, I hope you caught it.
Best. Couple. Ever.
posted by kriston at 2:15 PM........
Paul Johnson, Meet Thomas KinkadeBram Dijkstra treats Paul Johnson's textbook-ish Art: A New History a little too gingerly, as I see it. Johnson's just one more in a long line of critics who dislike everything about non-representational art, and goes so far as to say that Cezanne—Cezanne!—produced "stiff and awkward, anatomically incorrect" and "clumsily painted" work. The pain of it is that Johnson didn't write a book on realism—which might be well-received; I mean, he does give Ilya Repin some much-deserved credit—but rather a nominal history of art in which the 20th century plays no important function:
I happen to agree with Johnson that realism, and in particular 19th-century realism, has been dealt a raw deal by the apostles of modernism. The extreme dualist mindset of Western culture (Johnson himself is a perfect example) seems incapable of discovering elements of equal value in the approaches of divergent or opposing systems of representation. Thus, in order to champion experimentation in art, most 20th-century critics felt compelled to trash realism as roundly as Johnson, in revenge, wants to trash modernism.The thing is, most 20th-century critics don't feel compelled to trash realism, they feel compelled to ignore realism. The questions that realism answered aren't really the questions on the contemporary art agenda; this makes realist painting produced today, to a great extent, regurgitative. Realism is a keen magnet for notstalgia (unlike, say, a Byzantine revival, which interests me) because realism seems "objective." The notion of objectivity is so absolutely preposterous for a photograph, much less a painting—it's so fundamentally ridiculous—and so thoroughly modernist—it's just a headache. (And if he's after the super-real, why doesn't he give proper credit it Chuck Close and co.?)
Where visceral anti-modern/contemporary opinions go, conservative hysteria is sure to follow, and Johnson does not disappoint. Our reviewer is keen with this observation:
With his hard-nosed insistence that realism (in his terms, any art "true to nature" and therefore "objective") is good, and any form of modernism (exploitative, liberal "fashion art") worse than bad, Johnson seems intent on reviving a dichotomy that may have steamed up right-wing thinking in the '50s but that, over the past few decades, seemed to have been put away on one of the higher storage shelves reserved for outdated ideological bugaboos. Most critics today recognize that the personal politics of the artist and the politics of art movements have very little to do with each other. But Johnson still seems convinced that all of modernism represents a leftist terrorist incursion into the neatly organized house of "high art" (read "realism").Indeed modernism did steam conservatives in the 50s: You can check the indispensable sourcebook, Herschel Chipp's Theories of Modern Art for a lively transcript of Senate proceedings regarding a ban on modern art, purportedly because malevolent art "-isms" might serve as discreet Trojan Horses for malevolent political "-isms." Politicians haven't given up this bugaboo—now they're threatened even by statue boobs. It's wishful thinking to believe that art critics had outgrown that immaturity.
Hint: You're in the wrong line of work if you think Picasso amounts to "fashion art." Clearly your hysteria would be better served on FOX News.
posted by kriston at 1:07 PM........
Orwellian and what-not...It is arguably the executive office's job to put the best public face on war difficulties—sometimes that means not directly acknowledging strategic setbacks. No one wants to hear the President of the United States say, "We got fucked this weekend." Still, what's coming out Bush's White House isn't remotely in sync with Bush's military leaders, who are suggesting that the weekend's attacks might be evidence of a new, adverse element in Iraq. While the military debates similarities between the Ramadan attacks and the Tet Offensive,
Dissatisfied liberals at home aren't the only ones complaining about information games:
Another senior intelligence official said the United States has not devoted enough attention to understanding the anti-American groups in Iraq because intelligence resources have been devoted to locating weapons of mass destruction. As a result, the intelligence community and the military have little precise information about the resistance. "I am not happy with the kind of information we are getting," the official said.It would be a prudent decision to stop looking for WMD. (If, indeed, we're still doggedly looking for them; the CIA and INR folks are justifiably angry about being kept out of the loop, and their mantra is that military intelligence can't do anything right.) I say, quit looking for WMD that aren't there, censure Dick Cheney for insisting that they are, and (to make it a clean trifecta) chastise Congress for hedging the bet on Iraqi reconstruction. Since that's not going to happen, it would be in Bush's best interest to at least drop the smiley-school-children imagery—he sounds more robotic about hope than Gore—as Baghdad descends into chaos and Bush considers a lockdown in Baghdad, contrary to all the new freedoms they're enjoying. And for God's sake, stop deleting references to Iraq from the White House website.
Nods to Kicking Ass for the WH web link.
Nods also to George Orwell for giving us the language for describing what really doesn't make sense.
posted by kriston at 12:24 PM........
Monday, October 27, 2003
Please Stop Bringing It OnEveryone's writing about Bush's flippant response to the massive attack that ended 34 lives in Baghdad. These sophisticated attacks were coordinated along a number of axes: They were time-coordinated (five nearly simultaneous attacks), they employed suicide bombers (typically you hear about RPGs and fire-fights), and all were concentrated on "soft" targets (Red Cross, four Iraqi police stations). Glib, then, is a generous descriptive for Bush's remarks:
"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," Bush said.With these attacks ought to end the foolish suggestion that the media focuses too much on the bad news in Iraq. The bad news, frankly, is really bad, and doubly worse considering what's at stake. All of the good wrought in Iraq comes to naught if we cannot respond to these escalations in violence with a serious policy. Terming such an attack as progress evinces a callousness that is disgusting—how dare President Bush?
Is this what he meant by, "bring 'em on"?
Sophistication link courtesy of Kevin Drum.
posted by kriston at 4:41 PM........
An Institution That You Can't DisparageAfter reading what The American Prospect has had to say about gay marriage over the last few months—the issue really exploded after Santorum barked about that slippery slope—I think that Lang and Yglesias fail to grasp a simple, crucial aspect to the conservative plight against gay marriage and their converse defense of straight marriage. Lang certainly catches Rick Santorum (R-PA) in a corner over the logically inconsistent approach to Santorum's promotion of marriage (there's buckets of benefits to being married versus being single) and protection of marriage (we ought not let anyone get married except for the reason of having children). Santorum flounders under questioning, but it's irrelevant, because key to his logic is an essential loophole: No marriage rights for gay people, period. It doesn't matter if "marriage protection, as conservatives define it, [is] incompatible with marriage promotion, at least for the not-insignificant number of parents, biological and adoptive, who are homosexuals," because gay people simply do not enter into the calculus as marriable people. As couples, period.
Logic be damned, but it's a simple, basically foolhardy strategy of wishing homosexuals away. It's a policy of pandering to an uneducated, unsophisticated, and mostly Christian base that wishes the same thing. So you can chase Santorum around all day long with his quotes, and he'll say whatever he can to worm out of the limelight when he's being questioned, but the position he's advocating is quite clear. It's don't ask, don't tell for the nation.
But Republicans/conservatives risk going one step too far by making marriage defense a major issue for 2004. While I agree with Yglesias that we could not win a national referendum on gay marriage today but that national opinion is gradually turning in our favor, if conservatives try to make this a wedge issue they don't stand to gain anything. Quite obviously the voters who think that an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as only between a man and woman are not on the fence about which party they'll be supporting in '04. Socially conservative but politically liberal groups, like blacks and some other minorities, aren't going to be swayed away from rigid pocketbook voting. The real lure would have to be among suburban mothers and what-not—independents—the same hearts that he purportedly won over with the "compassionate conservatism" line in 2000. He'd all but erase that image from even the history books by igniting this culture war, never mind the fact that gay people are winning more hearts and minds among the politically undecided than discrimination, if polls, popular culture, and punditry are any indication.
Whereas Bush has played it pretty smart so far by not pandering to this ideological sect of his base, he's playing into liberal hands if he wants to make a wedge issue out of gay rights. He simply cannot reign in the frothing mouths of the far right of his party on this issue, particularly if a single Democrat is willing to voice strong support for even civil unions. I say bring it—and mostly because it's a fight worth fighting.
Begun these culture wars have.
posted by kriston at 12:42 PM........