Saturday, February 21, 2004
Perrywinkle BluesFor what it's worth, I'm up on all the rumors brewing about TX Governor Rick Perry—involving a possible divorce and some hardcore closeting. I thought hard about blogging this last week but decided in light of the Kerry kerfuffle to take the moral high ground (while, you know, hyper-emailing everyone I know in TX politics). If you haven't already read about this jazz on any number of sites, I received this link in an email and it'll get you up to speed.
So, any substance to the Schadenfreude? Texas is a state of tall tales, and the spins on this scandal are multiplying quicker than Queer Eye knock-offs and getting more fabulous by the minute. Caveat caveat caveat, but Texas gov't people tell me that the Republican Party clearly ought to have checked the ranks before going with the gay wedge for '04. But even a confirmed divorce would not an outed queer make, and what's more ridiculous than believing my take or anyone else's for that matter is believing that there's a force on Earth that can out the Republican governor of Texas during a former Texas governor's presidential reelection campaign while gay marriage is the single domineering cultural issue on the national agenda. If this breaks, I'll eat my hat, but might as well put this one to bed!
...with another man, of course.
posted by kriston at 1:21 PM........
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Don't mess with Texas.
posted by kriston at 1:20 PM........
Don't Call Me WhiteHei Lin at Begging to Differ weighs in on a Volokh post about race and higher eduation, and notes some political correctness-related touchiness. The "social club's" scavenger hunt asked players to take a picture with 10+ Asians, which is all sorts of trouble, and the club members are being disciplined. Hei clips from the school paper:
The photo-scavenger hunt also came as the Asian American Mentor Program, which assigns all Asian students to Asian mentor groups when they arrive on campus, ramped up events to challenge Asian stereotypes as the new semester began.and follows up with this:
Yes, that must really suck. When my friends and I go out to dinner, they actually expect me to figure out how much gratuity to pay for the bill! What a bunch of racists my friends are! I guess being stereotyped as being smart and successful is just like [sic] being stereotyped as being lazy or criminals or greedy bankers or terrorists.It's a smart point. I've noticed that people who don't support political correctness will sometimes whine that PC is only worthwhile if it works in every direction (majority/minority), trusting that the cognitive dissonance of, say, whites (or other favored groups) getting touchy about their race is enough of a case against PC to dismiss it. It's clear enough to me that stereotypes are effective (you know, in a bad way) when there is an imbalance of power involved, and so I remain unaffected by slurs against me and my WASPy brethren. Apply the same logic to that ridiculous whites-only scholarship.
For more I'll refer you to the people who are worth listening to on race: Stanley Fish and Dave Chapelle.
I'm of course a huge bigot, so maybe that's why I don't mind.
posted by kriston at 12:06 PM........
Pet PeeveThere's a tired formula in culture-writing that goes something like, "Art is dead—I mean smelly, stiff-with-rigor-mortis-worthless—except for this artist I have here." You see it everywhere: Painting is dead, hip-hop is dead, the contemporary novel is dead, the scene—except for this painter, rapper, contemporary novelist, or fashionable band whom I'm about to lavish with superlative praise. Jed Perl at TNR puts a common twist on this tendency by writing that contemporary art is dead, as illustrated by John Currin.
It's a cheap way to go about writing a review, doubly so because it taps into the burning critical urge to pronounce genrecide at the first sign of trend saturation. If we've learned anything from prognostications about the death of everything, it's that styles just won't stay down. You'd like to be able to say with some confidence that cock rock is dead and has been that way for a while, but then the Darkness comes along and screws up your safe call. Etc.
I think it's safe to say that the contemporary album review is dead—except for this piece by Sasha Frere-Jones in Slate, who says that all of hip-hop is corny—with the exception of Kayne West.
I wonder what the blogosphere's lifeline is looking like....
posted by kriston at 9:37 AM........
AM MayhemScrambled, scattered, smothered, and covered:
Man is that joke old.
posted by kriston at 8:06 AM........
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Onion GoldIf, like me, you have no love for the Schick Quattro, meaning you're a decent human being, click away.
Gilette: Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five — "Here's the report from Engineering. Someone put it in the bathroom: I want to wipe my ass with it. They don't tell me what to invent—I tell them. And I'm telling them to stick two more blades in there. I don't care how. Make the blades so thin they're invisible. Put some on the handle. I don't care if they have to cram the fifth blade in perpendicular to the other four, just do it!"
Courtesy of Norbizness.
And the NASA technology that brought you the still-very-fine Mach 3 Turbo.
posted by kriston at 3:27 PM........
Unsolicited Advice for John EdwardsThe Balasubramaniac is talking about the news that Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino, a federal prosecutor from Detroit, is suing Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging that the Justice Department interfered with a terrorism case and compromised a confidential informant. Bala says that federal prosecutors aren't fucking around—well, I say that, and he says that "[t]he people that serve and have served in that position have pretty stellar reputations." How sweet!
Ashcroft, perhaps feeling jilted and overlooked lately in the Executive Branch of Doom's hierarchy, has been stepping up the evil a notch or two. Probably everyone knows by now that Ashcroft has subpoenad medical records who may have received contested types of abortions, in a move that (intentionally or not) threatens both doctors and patients and violates the most basic tenents of doctor-patient confidentiality. Complaints about "fishing trips" like this one and another concern involving prescription painkiller-abusers's medical records—for example, the case of Rush Limbaugh, who has astonishingly enough been supported by the ACLU—alarm anyone with a bit of sense about them. (Incidentally, and this will astonish no one, San Francisco General Hospital has refused to turn over medical records to the Justice Department. One of several hospitals, in fact.) Ashcroft won't lurk in Rumsfeld's shadow.
So I'm thinking about John Ashcroft today, and I have some advice for our young Democratic hero, John Edwards. Go after Ashcroft. Explain in no uncertain terms that you'll personally scrub his name off the AG office door your first day in office. Show a little edge and say it like that, too. Then explain how you're going to strengthen domestic counterterrorism efforts, and in further detail, explain how Ashcroft and whatshisface at Homeland Security, those guys have not only screwed around but unnecessarily threatened civil liberties. (Don't go into how you bolster security after 9/11 without restricting liberties—just stick it to them.) And wasted money—whew, so much wasted money going after women when we need to be going after bad guys. Because you have trial experience, say that you get what Ashcroft's doing, and it's bad, and you're not going to do that because there are better ways to fight terror. While you're at it, read this article about, er, yourself, and why a trial lawyer cum president isn't half as bad as it sounds.
Mainly, I want Edwards to come out and prove to me that he's an OK leader for a nation at war. I don't think he can really do that when it comes to the foreign war on terror, but he can surely take the lead on the domestic front, and probably deftly tie it into smarter spending and partisan politics. This advice goes out to John Kerry, too, but Edwards needs something like this and Kerry doesn't.
The "I'd Fuck Him" platform won't get Edwards all the way, cheap forgetful fluzies that US voters are!
posted by kriston at 2:12 PM........
The Sex Slave Stays in the PictureSome of you might remember that about a month ago, the NYT Magazine published an article by Peter Landesman on sex-slavery here in the United States. This weekend, the NYT ran a long correction, mainly because the original piece provoked a firestorm of criticism. Looking around today I found that Jack Shafer has already covered the correction, and there're still arguable holes in Landeshman's story.
Now, courtesy of Daze Reader, I see that not only have a lot of other people pounced on Landesman's revised piece, but an illuminating detail has surfaced: Landesman has sold the movie rights for this story to Roland Emmerich, who's trusted to steer clear of sexploitation based on the journalistic/documentarian credit he established with Godzilla and Independence Day. If the sale doesn't make your skin crawl, Daniel Radosh argues that it should:
According to Landesman, "There is no controversy about the article," oh, and by the way, he could not have been more surprised that Hollywood was interested. "I didn't expect this, because it is such a dark and disturbing story. I didn't immediately see the movie, but after hearing Roland's vision, it was perfectly clear."Make your own judgment, but this journalist has no business selling rights to such a publicly maligned article, if he has any business pitching investigative journalism to a studio in the first place.
And I don't really mean to judge Emmerich, whose films I've never seen—but he's being a bit naive. It's comforting at least that a zillion out of ten movies never get made.
posted by kriston at 1:15 PM........
You're So Vain, You Probably Think Your Movement Is About YouDean's blog says he's holding a special meeting today in Vermont at 1:00p, where he'll likely announce the fate of his campaign. Folks say he'll stop campaigning but not technically drop out, running a low-carb enterprise that will still justify a platform for Dean. Elsewhere (Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton), that's called a vanity campaign.
It's no secret that Howard Dean wants to plug John Edwards over John Kerry, but there's a caveat: if he must. While he's said before that his supporters were non-transferrable, it seems that he wants to play rainmaker now, yet not at the expense of having a grass-roots organization to call his own. It's hard to poll how dedicated this bloc is now that Dean's out of contention, but if we assume that there's bleed among his true-blue followers, last night's results made that wound worse. What Democrats don't want to see happen is for Dean's standing army to disperse, melt into the crowds, and resurge sooner or later under some dissident like Ralph Nader (who just won't die). Given the largely young and previously politically unmotivated demographic of Dean's crew, they're perfect recruits for a seedy organization like the al-Green Party.
Dean's best tack would be to bow out gracefully and endorse John Edwards; I just don't see anyone taking Dean seriously if his raison d'etre is to attack John Kerry during debates, unless he somehow plans to both endorse Edwards and stick around in some capacity and hold his followers to a "do as I say, not as I do" creedo. We'll see, but nothing short of bowing out will protect Dean's legacy, and he's surely mindful of that.
UPDATE: Dean is out and he's not endorsing Edwards—I suppose he sees his organization as having a higher calling. Says the article, a Dean affiliate "said Dean would help elect Democrats to Congress in the fall." I don't know what this would exactly look like, but this is an intriguing idea—way better than Liberal AM, to give one example. Playing to our strengths ought to involve tapping into our campus mettle, and if Dean can muster that and put it toward our needy congressional front, that's fine. Who knows if this has legs—people seem to think so, if that's any indicator. (No one's buzzing about what Clark will do next.)
But of course Dean ought to scream whatever it is he announces today.
posted by kriston at 9:18 AM........
Civil Disobedience II: Civilly Disobey HarderPunctuation police:
The second judge told the plaintiffs that they would likely succeed on the merits eventually, but that for now, he couldn't accept their proposed court order because of a punctuation error.Everyone's talking about the Judge Warren's saucy semicolon sensation. Classic stuff, but this made me more curious:
Superior Court Judge James Warren turned down a conservative group's request to issue a stay that immediately would have barred city officials from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Instead, after a 21/2-hour hearing in a packed courtroom, Warren gave city officials a choice: Stop issuing the licenses now or return to court March 29 to explain why they should allow gay and lesbian marriages.Is that, uh, much of a dilemma? It's like a parent catching her kid with pot: "You either put down that bong immediately, or pack another bowl now but be prepared to explain yourself a month from now. While you mull it over I'm going to make Frito pie."
But because California can get that much weirder, Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to bring smoking back in the state capitol, mostly by ripping off the roof.
posted by kriston at 8:32 AM........
Rybkin vs BulgakovI'm late on this, but did anyone notice how Russian presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin's disappearance/reappearance was ripped straight out of The Master and Margarita? The guy just, you know, wakes up in Kiev, with three different versions of why he's there? Though I don't remember this one from Bulgakov:
Speaking to reporters in London, Rybkin said he had been lured to Kiev by a false offer to hold peace talks with Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, but instead had been drugged and held against his will by armed men, who showed him a compromising videotape apparently taken during his abduction.Ha ha, horrible perverts. That undoubtedly signifies the people behind Christina Aguilera... the bastards.
For the unitiated: I strongly recommend reading Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita.
posted by kriston at 7:45 AM........
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Please, PeopleWhatever you do, do not shake it like a Polaroid picture.
Let's be right and be safe out there.
posted by kriston at 3:53 PM........
Get You SomeHigh-quality merch from Justin:
You can order yours here. The shirt looks pink but it's actually a beige/off-white/not pink, and comes in everything from Skinny-Hipster to XXL.
Drawing more Republicans by the day.
posted by kriston at 10:58 AM........
Gold Stars All AroundVia Hackmuth over at False Dawn, here's Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm on his own time with the Army Reserve during the war in Viet Nam, from a Sunday NYT op-ed:
Even though the National Guard and Army Reserve see combat today, it rankles me that people assume it was some kind of waltz in the park back then. If only. Once a month, for an entire weekend ? I'm talking eight hours Saturday and Sunday ? we would meet in a dank, cold airplane hangar. The temperature in that hangar would sometimes get down to 40 degrees, and very often I had to put on long underwear, which was so restrictive I suffered from an acute vascular disorder for days afterward. Our captain was a strict disciplinarian who wouldn't think twice about not letting us wear sneakers or breaking up a poker game if he was in ill humor. Once, they took us into the woods and dropped us off with nothing but compasses and our wits. One wrong move and I could've wound up on Queens Boulevard. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to find my way out of there and back to the hangar. Some of my buddies did not fare as well and had to call their parents to come and get them.A sad and compelling confession.
I don't know that we're going to get to the bottom of Bush's TANG (ahem) mystery, and I don't think that Helen Thomas will compel Scott McClellan to answer about whether or not George W. Bush was forced to do community service during that unaccountable period. Gold stars to the bloggers and journalists who've made it readily apparent that Bush ought to have stonewalled on this from the start, for all that they've revealed.
On another note, the Kerry rumors are insubstantial, as I'm sure you know by now. I say gold stars for those who wisely skipped the crisis—and a pass for those that wisely noted the rumor had slander potential whether validated or not and comedically illustrated that point. But not even a little green Honorable Mention ribbon for the actual journalists that ran with it.
Larry David ought to get a damned trophy for Curb Your Enthusiasm alone.
posted by kriston at 10:20 AM........
Blacklisted Never Looked So GoodCrooked Timber fun I missed over the weekend: The beta version of FollowTheNetwork.org (link goes to a mirror site), David Horowitz's database/blacklist of "the left." Oh, it's shadowy, I'm talking twice as shadowy as that crew of hot, bi- Asian chicks living in LA that you occasionally glimpse on Friendster. Note that under the category "Individuals" you are likely to find one of three types of people: An Islamic terrorist, a "progressive academic," or Hillary Clinton (she's the only US gov't official I could find—not even Ted Kennedy made the cut). Here's another example, from CT:
Ahmad A. Ajaj, "Associate of first WTC bombers. From Houston. Pizza deliveryman. 'Mysterious connections and unlimited funds.'"Were this a caricature of the right-wing's lefty network, it would be pure gold. Frankly, I just can't handle the fact that it's serious. I lack the tools to appropriately evaluate the comedy that the Internet brings to me.
So what do I have to do to make my way into the shadowy left?
posted by kriston at 9:51 AM........
Civil DisobedienceThis past weekend ought to be remembered as a hallmark day in the movement toward gay marriage rights. Anarchy in the CA:
Two conservative groups have challenged Mayor Gavin Newson's authority to allow the same-sex marriages, arguing that it violates the state laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman. The city is expected to respond that it is acting under the state's constitution, which guarantees equal protection for all Californians.Heavy clipping for sure, so read the entire article if you want the narrative arch; I wanted to highlight the fact that a weekend's worth of illegal marriages (make no mistake, San Fran is in the technical wrong) might have been prevented by SF Judge Warner on Friday. Normally I like to know what the law is likely to be over a given weekend, and usually frown on judicial or mayoral flights of fancy, but I'm pretty sure this one gets the pass. Even you black-&-white interpreters of our justice code ought to recognize this as positive. You have, in the city of San Francisco, mind you, one side arguing, "We want to get married!" and another side bellowing, "Those licenses waste valuable tax-payer money!" It's a bit like polygamy in Utah—it's a place so far removed from the rest of us that it's hard to see what kind of stunning impact this could possibly have.
UPDATE: I do mean it when I say that it's not a good thing for mayors or bureaucracies to start deciding what's what in state/federal law. And frankly I won't weigh in on absolutist questions about authority. My point is only that this is a harmless good.
EVEN MORE: A harmless, continuing good:
There was no letup Tuesday in the parade of same-sex weddings at San Francisco City Hall, as a judge refused a request from an anti-gay marriage group to put an immediate halt to the nuptials.You know this judge is just fucking with everyone. At the rate SF's going—if devoted couples who've wanted to marry keep showing up—they could have well over 10K newlyweds by Friday. It's astonishing.
I especially enjoy the righteous indignation from these conservative groups in San Francisco.
posted by kriston at 9:02 AM........