And The Winner Is...
Kerry. No doubt about it. On points and on meta-points. Convincingly. Bush looked petty and out of his depth.
Now we await the spin.
UPDATE: Josh Chafetz agrees. In pretty much the same terms: "Kerry won. Hands down. By a lot."
Whack fol me darn O, dance to your partner
Whirl the floor, your trotters shake
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake?!!!
Kerry. No doubt about it. On points and on meta-points. Convincingly. Bush looked petty and out of his depth.
There's no euphemism for this (Hat tip: everybody). None of the usual pathetic justifications of torture apply here; there's no ticking time bomb, no prospect of culling information once prisoners are shipped off to Syrian dungeons, no utilitarian calculus by which this inhuman cruelty could somehow be excused. This is sadism for the sake of sadism, and the very idea that the Republicans thought they could get away with this, let alone the reality that they will get away with it, explains precisely what's wrong with our political culture.
Tonight is both the first debate and the foreign policy debate. I'll go out on a limb: that means that the other debates don't matter.
It's come to this. Gallup, for no reason that it cares to disclose, and for no reason concordant with any available data, hugely oversamples Republicans in its polls. Since giving the Republicans a 7 point advantage in the likely voter sample of their September 13-15 survey apparently wasn't enough, they decided to give the Republicans a 12 point advantage in their September 24-26 survery. Interestingly, the Bush lead narrows in the second survey, despite a totally inexplicable spike in Republican voter identification.
My old boss and mentor Michael Walzer, who is without a doubt the leading figure in contemporary just war theory, has always drawn a conceptual distinction between the justice of a war and just conduct of war. Though they are distinct, the two tracks run together, and cannot come apart independently and without any reciprocal consequences. Thus, even a just war can be rendered unjust through unjust conduct. The torture memo and the disgrace at Abu Ghraib [not being as awful as Saddam Hussein is nothing to brag about, my warblogging comrades--ed.] have certainly stretched the justice of the Iraq war to near its breaking point, and for me marked the end of the WMD-independent moral case for war.
I just finished my first philosophy paper of the year---it's a criticism of infinitist theories of belief-justification, which it seems to me fall prey to either circularity or arbitrariness or both, which are precisely the fatal flaws that infinitism had thought to uncover in coherentism and foundationalism.
Overheard in a conversation with a friend, regarding the Yale students who circulated blatantly witch-hunting e-mails to current and former female students of Harold Bloom seeking to drum up further charges of sexual impropriety (and who are unsurprisingly the same students who blamed President Levin for the attack on Katherine Lo last year, as well as similar such efforts):
If these people were successful in changing Yale into what they would like it to be, they never would have come here in the first place. They're caught in a fatal contradiction, and they should either accept the fact that they are part of the elite or else cut their tongues out.As I pointed out, there is no shortage of schools featuring disciplinary boards operating on the presumption that consensual heterosexual sex is rape. They're free to attend such institutions, and be unsullied by the elitism/racism/sexism/heterosexism/blahblahblahstopyou'reboringmetotears-ism of these Caucaso-phallic walls. They're also free to shut the fuck up.
I've been holding off on this post for a while, because it's awfully interesting and deserves more than the cursory comment I can provide in between classes.
Suppose it were suggested that a Free Market of Ideas is guaranteed sufficiently by free speech guarantees. Well, obviously this isn’t enough for most conservative complainers about media bias, who know they’ve already got the First Amendment. (I’m setting aside screwballs who think Kerry wants to take away Bibles.) What conservatives think they should get is equal representation on the evening news and the editorial page. (Never mind for the moment whether they are unreasonable not to notice they’ve already got it.) But why should Republicans be represented, let alone equally? Isn’t a demand to have one’s voice not just not muzzled but broadcast an unconscionable prejudgment of the operation of the invisible hand of the free market? If it turns out that 89% of journalists are Democrats (I think I saw that figure, which was not accompanied by any statistic about how many CEO’s of media corporations are Republicans) - if most journalists are Democrats, why should this be regarded as proof of Democratic bias, rather than proof that truth itself is biased against Republicans, since the market rejects them? Obviously the response will run: this market isn’t fair. Which may be fair enough. But there’s that word again, ‘fair’. If a market should be not just free but ‘fair’, what sense of justice helps us understand what ‘fair’ means? Economically, we understand that a free market is supposed to be optimal for the production of wealth and acceptable for its distrubition. But what is a free market in ideas - a Media Market of Ideas - supposed to optimize: truth? The trouble with saying the market of ideas is supposed to optimize truth, and then complaining about partisanship as an obstacle, is that you must decide whether one partisan perspective is ‘truer’ than the other. If yes, then partisanship is actually what the market should aim at, not avoid. If not, then partisanship is not obviously a hindrance to truth. (Think about it. No really, this isn’t sophistry.)
It is plausible what people really think should be optimized is not the production of truths but the expression of belief (and not because this mix conduces to truth but as an end in itself). A range of beliefs. A suitable, representative range of beliefs. The thought is that everyone has a right not just to get the truth from the media but to have their ‘truth’ (i.e. belief) heard by others. The media ought to ‘sound like’ America. But unless this thought is accompanied by a relativistic belief that all beliefs are equally valid, we are now heading away from a free market, not towards it. The idea that everyone is entitled to equal representation in the media is akin to the economic proposition that everyone should be guaranteed about the same amount of money, which is not notably Hayekian. The sense of ‘fairness’ in play here is at least Rawlsian, if not positively communistic. Its doxastic affirmative action. You make sure no one is left behind, is silenced, unheard, excluded. Proper distribution of the media pie is more important, maybe, than ‘growing’ the pie.
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else. [Emphasis mine]---Theodore Roosevelt, May 7, 1918 [i.e. in the midst of WWI--ed.], as quoted on Howard Stern's website.
Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross is dead. (Or is she?) Ron Rosenbaum gives her a very fair treatment in Slate.
What prompted my examination was a small—but stunning—news clipping I came across in the early '80s describing the completely bizarre sexual scandal at Kübler-Ross' retreat in Escondido, Calif., the mountaintop center she called Shanti Nilaya. The scandal concerned the involvement of Kübler-Ross—and some of the grieving widows visiting her retreat—with a self-proclaimed spirit medium who conned them all into believing he had the ability to channel "afterlife entities." Not only channel them but facilitate their having sex with the grieving widows.I'd say that's rather damning. Almost enough to justify dropping her from high school English curricula, no?
There's something very satisfying about incidents of McCarthyite political correctness backfiring. Such is the case with a UNC professor who attacked a student via mass e-mail for expressing views that constituted "hate speech."
That a white, heterosexual, Christian male, one who vehemently denied his privilege last week insisting that he earned all he has, can feel entitled to make violent, heterosexist comments and not feel marked or threatened or vulnerable is what privilege makes possible.Ah, I'd forgotten that it's all about privilege. I suppose it's a shame that the student was not made to feel marked, threatened, or vulnerable. Good thing his professor had time to, um, mark, target, and perhaps even make him feel vulnerable before all his colleagues.
The e-mail message not only subjected the student to intentional discrimination and harassment, but also discouraged the robust exchange of ideas that is intrinsic to higher education and is at the very heart of the Constitution's protection of free speech.Indeed. I am aware, just to pre-empt the nasty e-mails that are sure to follow, the the Bush government is not terribly likely to take an interest in academic McCarthyism that cuts the other way. In fact...well, read this (via The Poor Man).
That, I think, is the only apt description for Mr. Bush's stuffed-crotch "Mission Accomplished" photo-op last year.
The best parodies are only one degree removed from reality. I think this qualifies:
The battle lines were drawn. Ann was facing an unambiguously smug opponent. Suddenly she was Dick Nixon staring down the haughty East Coast establishment. She wasn’t going to skulk away to some backroom to plot revenge, then deny responsibility, though. A liberal Democrat with balls, a threat to national security, was standing in her crosshairs. It was time to unload a bunker buster.
“Thanks for the explanation, Justice Ruth Bader Lezbo, but guess what?” she taunted. “It’s not a law. A rule, yes,” she puffed on her cigarette, “but not a law.” Hannity snickered. Colmes looked terrified – and aroused.
The waitress laughed. “You actually think that insulting me is going to work?”
“Oh, sweetie, don’t take what I say so seriously. I’m sure you’ve laid all kinds of dirtbags in your day. You know, we should get you down to Gitmo. The prisoners down there would love a whore like you.”
I had to say something. “Ann, we can please go someplace else? I think it’s a little unfair to expect the restaurant to let us smoke.” I used “us” because, frankly, I was too scared to challenge her directly.
“Fine. Let me put this out first.” For a split second, I thought Ann had come to her senses and backed down – until she suddenly grabbed the waitress’ right wrist and began grinding the cigarette into her hand! The waitress shrieked.
“Holy shit, Ann! You’ve lost your mind!” screamed Candy.
I reached across the table and pushed Ann against the banquette, away from the waitress. The waitress managed to wrest away her hand. She looked at the burn with wide-eyed horror, then narrowed her eyes at Ann.
“You fascist bitch,” she snarled.
“You can do better than that,” Ann laughed, then took another puff off her weapon and exhaled. “Bring it on.”
Somebody knows what section of the video store Mel Gibson's Passion belongs in (via Fleshbot).
I agree. Aderall [is that the right spelling?--ed.] is one hell of a drug. That is the point of this article, right?
Just got back from my first attempt at serious weightlifting since busting my ankle. The ankle itself did fine...the rest of me, well, not so much. The combination of reduced cardio-muscular fitness (from a couple of weeks off) and a pretty nasty headcold (from, um, a virus I guess) left me out-of-breath, lightheaded, and even dry-heaving at times. Still, I made it through.
What's missing is a background shot of North Korean and Iranian warheads. Otherwise, this cartoon says it all.
I could be referring to marijuana, but in this case I'm talking about prostitution. Oh, to live in a truly free society!
The problem with normal sex is that it leads to kissing and pretty soon you've got to talk to them. Once you know someone well the last thing you want to do is screw them. I like to give, never to receive; to have the power of the host, not the obligation of the guest. I can stop writing this and within two minutes I can be chained, in the arms of a whore. I know I am going to score and I know they don't really want me. And within 10 minutes I am back writing. What I hate are meaningless and heartless one-night stands where you tell all sorts of lies to get into bed with a woman you don't care for.Heh. Now (men only please) raise your hands if you can relate to this. Don't be shy:
Why does a sleazy bastard like me like whores so much? Why pay for it? The problem is that the modern woman is a prostitute who doesn't deliver the goods. Teasers are never pleasers; they greedily accept presents to seal a contract and then break it. At least the whore pays the flesh that's haggled for. The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less.May I add, not from personal experience (of course) but from intuition, that a whore is unlikely to stab you in the front.
William Saletan is spot-on, and I hope Kerry's debate-prep team read this. I think Saletan might just have figured out the Reagan-like zinger to propel Kerry:
Bush says you think we'd be safer with Saddam in power than in jail. Your reply today—"George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority; I would have made Osama Bin Laden the priority"—is accurate but lame. You'll need a zippier version in next week's debate. Something like, "If I were president, Osama Bin Laden would be in jail." [Emphasis mine].I, for one, am floored by that. It packs the entire national security case for Kerry---genuine commitment to defeating al-Qaeda, competent handling of the Iraqi crisis, sane non-proliferation policy, sober and skeptical empiricism about security threats, etc.---into a tight one-liner.
So the Washington Post published a series about what it's like to be gay in some country called "real America." The terminology really says it all, so I'm not going to link, but I am going to excerpt this Matt Yglesias post, with which I concur whole-heartedly:
[N]othing pisses me off more than the implication that some parts of the country are more "really" America than others...[W]e're none of us masquerading pseudoamericans here. Indeed, it's bizarre that the Northeastern part of the country -- the part that was settled first, the part that led the Revolution, the part that led the nation to victory in the Civil War -- has somehow acquired a reputation as less authentically American than a lot of Johnny-come-lately squarish ersatz states and a big swathe of the southeast that decided one time to launch a violent, treasonous effort to maintain the institution of chattel slavery and turn North America into a British sphere of influence.Indeed. One of the ancillary benefits of Kerry victory would be a forced reconsideration on the part of the CW-makers of just what constitutes the heartland.
I caught something over an otherwise highly edifying weekend. There's nothing a lot more awkward than sharing a bus ride with your own personal Delilah on the way to a rugby match---which we won 66-17, by the way.
Despicable, but the scary part is that people can be influenced by this stuff. (If it didn't work, they wouldn't do it.) I've often daydreamt about founding an anti-Gideon order that would go to hotel rooms across America and replace the Gideon's Bibles with copies of Hustler and David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
Norman Mailer gave a lecture here last night (if the title of this post didn't make sense to you, just skip the rest of it). It was a slightly uncanny experience for me---Mailer gave a similar talk almost 50 years ago when my dad went to Yale, and the two of them stayed up drinking together all night. When I got a chance to talk to Mailer about it, he asked what class my dad was in. And when I told him 1959, Mailer immediately asked whether or not he was still alive. Typical Mailer no-bullshit-bullshit. (My dad, btw, is still alive, keyn yehiratzon.)
They impeached Clinton because he had an interaction with a lovely woman which was relatively modest, [but] Bush is screwing half of the world.In reality, Mailer said:
"They impeached Clinton because he was visited by a lovely young woman for a relatively modest sexual transaction...."I'm surely paraphrasing slightly (and that's because I'm not a reporter), but the joke was about a "relatively modest sexual transaction," not "an interaction...which was relatively modest." Don't these people take notes? Does the YDN frequently mangle quotations like this? Inquiring minds (at least mine) want to know.
If I knew Google's Adsense would've fucked me this hard, I never would have signed up. (Okay, that's not true, money is still money.) But seriously, what do I have to do to get these RNC ads off the website? I support John Kerry. I support John Kerry. DNC DNC DNC DNC DNC DNC DNC DNC DNC. Jai guru deva om.
Grover Norquist called the WWII generation anti-American. Maybe it sounds a bit smoother in Spanish.
CBS killed a story on the forged Niger-uranium documents in order to run a bogus story based on false documents. No matter what my lefty friends say, Michael Isikoff is an awesome reporter....
This might just be evidence that esoteric interests have separated me from the rest of society, but I found this article on the survival of the Zoroastrian religion in the Boston Globe absolutely fascinating. Although most of it deals with the society of the Parsis in Bombay, it included this gem about Zoroastrianism in Iran (and some former provinces of ancient Persia):
But from outside the shattered splendor of Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia, Bahram Agaheri, a Muslim teacher, talked in elegiac rhythms about the desire of many Iranians to rediscover the faith of their forefathers.Just imagine it: millions of converts to Zoroastrianism. The theocracy will falter and fail one day. As I've learned in my study of Farsi, modern Iranians deeply resent the Arabic influence on their culture, and are at pains to explain to westerners that they are not Arabs. It would be profoundly ironic if the ultimate consequence of the Islamic revolution were a significant rejection of Shi'ism in favor of Zoroastrianism.
''People are tired of the mullahs," Agaheri said, referring to the country's religious leaders. ''If we were allowed to convert, millions would convert to Zoroastrianism. I challenge the government to allow conversion out of Islam for even one day."
But he is unlikely to see that day. Islam bans its adherents from converting, and a Muslim who renounces his faith can face a death sentence.
Caught between a religion that will not allow them out and one that will not let them in, many Iranians are thought to practice Zoroastrianism in secret.
There is also evidence that people in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and some Kurdish regions are rediscovering their Zoroastrian and Persian roots.
A secularized version of Nowruz, the traditional Zoroastrian New Year, is increasingly being celebrated across the region.
These tremors of change excite many Zoroastrians, who despite their demographers' troubling estimates, think their religion is poised to witness a renaissance.
If you've ever seen a choleric-looking rotund young conservative sweating Crisco while self-righteously denouncing the lib-ruhls who never tire of oppressing him, you'll be able to relate to Wolcott's wisdom here:
Yesterday, C-SPAN II, as part of its regular weekend books coverage, ran a reading/q & a with Ben Ferguson, the young conservative author of It's My America Too. The plaintive whimpering of that title--in particular that "too"--is typical of the phony underdog position conservatives insist on taking to make themselves look like insurgents. Republicans control the presidency, the Senate, the House, and much of the judiciary, Fox News is #1 in cable news, the rightwing rules talk radio, and yet here's little big Ben, who at the age of 22 hosts his own rightwing radio show, pouting about feeling like an outsider in his own country, boo hoo.Even better:
He wears his hair as if he's in the fourth grade, and I gather he has a chapter in his book about being a virgin. It's considerate of this baby whale version of Rush Limbaugh to be saving himself for some lucky gal, but I fear that when he finally does mate with Woman he may explode from years of self-denial in a spermatic supernova. I'd hate to be the person who'd have to tidy up afterwards.
It's easy to make fun of little big Ben--so why not?--and yet underneath his pudgy exterior is a pudgy interior soaked in loathing and ignorance.Ouch, heh, read the whole thing.
At one point in his talk, he made light of John Kerry's war medals and wounds, snickering that Kerry's decision to go to Vietnam to be shot at was pure "opportunism," and that if he'd been wounded as badly as all that he'd be in "a real nice wheelchair" now. Of course, if Kerry had been crippled and reduced to a wheelchair, that wouldn't spare him further mockery, as Max Cleland has learned.
Now at this point a certain type of liberal will quote Joseph Welch's famous question to Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
Liberals of a certain age love quoting that stirring heroic retort. When Anthony Lewis was a Times columnist, he used to quote it every other week it seemed, and I saw Richard Cohen pull a Joseph Welch a few columns ago.
But I won't. The question is no longer worth raising, even rhetorically. Because we know the answer.
They have no decency. Not a sliver, not a shred. Look at how Max Cleland has been treated, look at how George Soros has been smeared as some sort of Jewish intriguer who oozed his way out of Nazi Germany by Tony Blankley* and a drug kingpin by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, look at--oh, we know what the examples are.
Ben Ferguson can snicker that if John Kerry had incurred real injuries he'd be in a nice wheelchair today and the middleaged white fools sitting in the bookstore don't even raise a peep, which makes you wonder if ten years from now it'll be open season on any American vet from the Iraq campaign who's missing limbs or carrying shrapnel and gets out of political line. There is a myth that the Left spat on returning Vietnam vets in the Seventies. Well, the Right spits on Vietnam vets every day with impunity, and will spit on future vets.
Now Sully notices that the president isn't just speaking contrary to the facts, but about an entire parallel universe, a separate modality, if you will. Not to be too triumphalist, but this is my fucking meme, bitches.
At electoral-vote.com (now with permalinks!), it's Kerry 269, Bush 253, and that includes a rather anomalous result in New Mexico showing an instantaneous 15 point swing to Bush.
Here's an instructive little questionnaire that asks you to differentiate between statements posted on the Little Green Footballs site (I'm not going to link to it) and statements made by prominent Nazi officials.
This represents a (modest) expansion of liberty and public decency in a variety of different arenas.
Patrick Belton warms my heart with another philosophy joke, this one neatly dovetailing what I've been studying in my epistemology seminar:
THE EPISTEMOLOGISTS DECIDE to field a Little League team, and three of them volunteer to serve as umpires. They go into a bar after one game, and after they've got their drinks the critical realist says "Yeah, well, I call 'em as I see 'em." The direct realist responds "Well, I call 'em as they are!" Then the Berkeleian idealist pipes up and says, "Shoot, they ain't anything till I call 'em!"I'll leave it to readers to decide whether or not this is funny; the deep irony is that, to me at least, the Berkeleian idealist is in the best position of the three.
Been taking a long weekend...actually, I've been tending to my busted ankle. The latest news is that I might have a torn tendon along the outside of my ankle and foot. Goddamnit.
From the latest GOP mass-mailing:
The literature shows a Bible with the word "BANNED" across it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand of another man with the word "ALLOWED." The mailing tells West Virginians to "vote Republican to protect our families" and defeat the "liberal agenda."And Ed Gillespie, as ever, is a charmer:
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said Friday that he wasn't aware of the mailing, but said it could be the work of the RNC. "It wouldn't surprise me if we were mailing voters on the issue of same-sex marriage," Gillespie said.
Nine different drugs found in Rick James' system when he passed away. None of them was the cause of death.
The odds were .5:1 that this post is about David Brooks. And it is. Today's lesson is about "spreadsheet people" versus "paragraph people."
Why have the class alignments shaken out as they have? There are a couple of theories. First there is the intellectual affiliation theory. Numerate people take comfort in the false clarity that numbers imply, and so also admire Bush's speaking style. Paragraph people, meanwhile, relate to the postmodern, post-Cartesian, deconstructionist, co-directional ambiguity of Kerry's Iraq policy.Just to be sure, I think there's more than a kernel of truth to this. And it's more substantive than anything MoDo's ever written.
I subscribe, however, to the mondo-neo-Marxist theory of information-age class conflict. According to this view, people who majored in liberal arts subjects like English and history naturally loathe people who majored in econ, business and the other "hard" fields. This loathing turns political in adult life and explains just about everything you need to know about political conflict today.
Jamie Kirchick, refreshed and hopefully back to a regular blogging schedule, noticed something that I missed during my Toad's experience on Saturday:
BTW, who else was at Toad's on Saturday night? A f*&^ing 9/11 tribute!? At Toad's? Those things go together like John Ashcroft and anal beads.I guess it happened while I was in the sidebar chatting up a couple of Q-pac girls (the best kind of girls). Cause if I didn't score, the terrorists would have won---which is even money to be the most-used pick-up line by Q-pac meatheads that night.
At electoral-vote.com (still no bleeping perma-links), the scorecard is Bush 307, Kerry 211, which is somewhat grim-looking, and includes tiny Bush leads in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Iowa, and a within the MOE lead in Wisconsin. If Kerry picks up those former Gore states, as I'm just about willing to bet he will (any takers?), the the scorecard would stand at Kerry 264, Bush 254. Furthermore, Ohio is now precisely even, 47% a piece, and Bush is finished if he can't carry it.
Jimmy Breslin of Newsday had an column yesterday that, if true, makes this website irrelevant. Breslin claims that pollsters do not call the 168 million cell phones in the country. Since many younger voters do not have a land line and just a cell phone, they will be hugely underrepresented in all the telephone polls. Since younger voters lean more towards the Democrats than the average voter, the polls may be greatly underestimating Kerry's strength. Between missing all the people who have only a cell phone and no land line and the 5 million overseas voters, the polls maybe missing a very large section of the electorate.This is, of course, one particular version of the Kerry landslide scenario, in which Kerry has been holding a massive lead occluded by gross underestimation of voter turnout in polls as well as flawed likely voter models that don't account for the present level of anti-Bush feeling. [Keep in mind that every single likely voter model is fatally flawed before it even gets off the ground; c.f. Hume's problem of induction, which the whole (more or less) of 20th century philosophy of science failed to resolve--ed.]
Ryan Lizza on Bush's modal realism:
But, for the most part, spending time on the trail with Bush is like being transported to a parallel universe. The only music is Christian rock and country tunes about plain-talking everymen. The only people who ask the president questions are his most feverish supporters, never the press. In this alternate universe, Iraq and Afghanistan are marching effortlessly toward democracy. The economy is, in the words of former Broncos quarterback John Elway, who introduces Bush in Greenwood Village, "the best in the world." John Kerry, whose platform is to the right of Clinton's in 1992, is calling for a massive expansion of government. Meanwhile, Bush's two most radical ideas, the ones that House Republicans privately insist will top the agenda in Washington next year if Bush wins--a shift toward privatizing Social Security that will cost at least a trillion dollars and a move toward a flat tax--are mentioned only in passing, buried in a laundry list of minor proposals.Related: Andrew Sullivan puts the Bush candidacy in a nutshell: Panglossianism.
Since I still (@#%$&!#) don't have cable, I haven't gotten to see any of this, but I'll take it for granted that James Wolcott's recollections of Kitty Kelley's interviews are accurate:
The worst interviews were on CNN. Aaron Brown fretted over the methodology and wondered why Kelley focused on the Bushes, since so many privileged families such as the Kennedys and the Rockefellers get away with all sorts of behavior without having to pay the price most people do--why pick on them?It remains to be seen whether anything Kitty Kelley writes about the Bushes can stand up to scrutiny, and if I had to bet, in the dark, I'm pretty confident that I'd bet on at least some of the charges falling apart. That said, Ms. Kelley deserves at least as much favorable coverage as any of the SBVF"T"; I trust a tabloid reporter, especially one working for an established, mainstream publishing house, quite a bit more than I trust a Nixon flackey pursuing a 35 year vendetta.
Kelley smartly retorted that the Bushes have paid less price than most (what she didn't say, and could have, was two assassinations of Kennedy brothers was worse than anything the Bushes have had to endure). He was also troubled that she was implying Bush skipped his flight physical because of drug use, to which she said it was a logical inference and all Bush had to do was release the appropriate records.
Brown at least wasn't a snitty little twit, like the CNN interviewer this morning whose name, I believe, is Heidi Hairdo. From the outset her tone was brisk, assistant district-attorneyish, and yet schoolgirlishly naive, as when she couldn't understand why anyone would be "afraid" of the Bushes and Kelley laughed in snorting disbelief, as if she had to explain the facts of life to Miss Snippy.
Heidi Hairdo, like some of the other interviewers, seem to keep up an invisible cordon sanitarire, a starchy, disdainful discomfort at having to share the set with an author so disreputable and, oh dear, tacky. This from people who fawn over every narcissistic piece of Hollywood horseflesh making the rounds to promote their latest lousy movie.
What's clear is that the news media are uncomfortable with someone investigating the arrogant and disturbing patterns of behavior in the Bush dynasty. They can't ignore Kitty Kelley, but they want to keep her in her litter box. But she's a tiny tigress, and will not be contained.
Robert Kagan has advice that George Bush will not heed: And there is an even more fundamental reality that the president must face:
A Russian dictatorship can never be a reliable ally of the United States. A Russian dictator will always regard the United States with suspicion, because America's very existence, its power, its global influence, its democratic example will threaten his hold on power.Aside from giving Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt long after he has ceased to deserve it, Kagan provides, indirectly, a particularized version of the best argument against George Bush's re-election. Namely, the gap between Bush's foreign policy rhetoric, on one hand, and Bush's actual conduct of policy on the other hand, is reflective of, at best, a surreptitious and dangerous repudiation of modal actualism, and at worst, an internationalized form of schizophrenia.
Finally, there is the matter of the Russian people themselves. Did the United States help undo Soviet communism only to watch as tyranny takes its place? Is that the legacy President Bush wants to leave behind?
Much depends on what Bush does and says in the coming days. No one should imagine there are any easy answers. If Bush denounces Putin, we will pay a price. If he goes further, as he should, and begins taking tangible actions in the economic and political spheres to express U.S. disapproval of Putin's latest moves, we may suffer a loss of Russian cooperation. These are chances we will have to take, however.
Perhaps in the face of global pressure, led by the United States but including Europe, Putin might feel compelled to back down. In any case, President Bush needs to try. He must remain true to his stated principles, both for the sake of principle and for the sake of U.S. interests.
This article ought to stimulate discussion. I can think of a few important examples that are missing: towards the zero end of the scale, there is the Dude's frustrated attempt to get compensation for his miturated-upon rug that tied the room together; at the upper end, there is Justinian's so-thorough obliteration of the Vandals that no records of their culture, civilization, or language survive, there is my cousin Bruno Ackermann (several generations removed), who fled Germany in the early 1930s, came to the United States, joined Patton's army and interrogated German POWs, and there is also what's coming to a certain Canadian cradle-robber when I get my hands on him...assuming I can sack up enough not to care about consequences. Montezuma's Revenge is somewhere in the middle, though it gets penalty points for not singling out the Spanish.
After Britney cheated on him, not only did he dump her, he put out a best-selling album fueled by a song about their breakup in which he basically destroys her with the lyrics. Just an unbelievable piece of work. It's devastating. I can't even imagine what she did when she first heard it. And if that wasn't enough, he made a well-received video about the song, starring a Britney look-alike. And if THAT wasn't enough, he immediately started going out with Cameron Diaz. By the time he was done, Britney's career was in the tank -- she was chain-smoking and hanging out with backup dancers and white trash guys from her hometown. Now that, my friends, is vengeance. Bravo, Justin. Bravo.I almost want to stand up and applaud, but then I remember that I would rather hear the death rattle of my only child than listen to "Cry Me A River" (apologies to David Cross for shamelessly ripping off his material. He's a great comic and you should buy this album).
Via Crooked Timber, here's a clinically executed vivisection of the Instapundit. We should all aspire to such tightness and concision in our endeavors to slay hypocrisy and hackery as this:
The faults Reynolds ascribes (sometimes accurately) to the mainstream media seem to involve a rather large amount of projection. Let's take his most recent attempt to claim that Bush and Kerry basically have the same position on gay marriage. This is a good test case, as Reynolds claims to be not the ass-licking Republican hack the content of his posts would indicate but a non-partisan libertarian. Admittedly, his form of libertarianism--which involves unstinting praise for a hyper-statist, fiscally irresponsible president and admiration for the literally authoritarian sentiments of a dimwitted Lester Maddox protege--is rather, ah, unique. (I'm not sure what version of libertarianism can square with Zell's arguments that criticism of a President's foreign policy is inherently treasonous, but maybe I missed a footnote in Anarchy, State and Utopia or something.) At any rate, here he goes:This is good right down to the last detail, including its exposure of Clinton as an authoritarian poseur and coward, given to manipulating legitimate civil rights issues towards his own political gain, rather than actually committing to the hard work of expanding civil rights.Now, of course, any question beginning "what is John Kerry's position. . ." is a tough one. But -- correct me if I'm wrong here -- the only real difference between Kerry and Bush is that Bush has offered vague support to the certain-to-fail Federal Marriage Amendment. But it's, er, certain to fail. Now that's a difference, I guess. But it's not a huge one, and to me it doesn't seem to be a big enough difference to justify the vitriol. (Kerry's been, maybe, more supportive on civil unions, but I wouldn't take that to the bank.)Could this possibly be more feeble?
- Even if this were an accurate characterization, the argument is ridiculous on its face. Apart from having diametrically opposed positions on the central relevant issue, their position is exactly the same! Similarly, Barry Bonds and I have similar baseball skills, except that he is the best player in major league history and I can't hit a 50 MPH fastball. But other than that, our baseball abilities are exactly the same.
- The attempt to conflate the two positions on civil unions is utterly dishonest. Kerry unwaveringly supports civil unions. Bush supports a constitutional amendment that would prevent states from having civil unions. Reynolds provides no substantiation for this assertion, but merely repeats the lazy media script about Kerry being a flip-flopper.
- Reynolds also, conveniently, omits any discussion of the last major federal policy initiative in this area: The Defense of Marriage Act. Bush staunchly supports it. Kerry was one of a handful on Senators who voted against it. (And, yes, Clinton signed it into law. Which was a disgrace, and I never have and never will make the pathetic excuses for Clinton that Reynolds does for his beloved Bush.)
- Yes, the FMA was destined to fail. But this was about symbolic politics. Bush was using his bully pulpit to use hatred against a group of people to win votes; how this is a defense of Bush I can't imagine. As it happens, I do think that Reynolds is correct to imply that Bush didn't care about the FMA. Although nobody knows, I suspect that Bush doesn't give a rat's ass about gay marriage. Which makes his conduct even less defensible; I respect a Santorum, who really believes in the FMA, much more than a Bush, who just takes the same position for cynical purposes.
- Finally, note the egregious double standard Reynolds uses in evaluating the context facing Bush and Kerry. Bush gets a free pass for supporting a reprehensible amendment for political gain, because he had no choice. Kerry, on the other hand, gets no slack for nominally opposing gay marriage, although this is almost certainly a position taken out of political necessity (as his support for gay marriage in all but name indicates.) When the generational shift occurs, who is more likely to support gay marriage? The answer is painfully obvious. (Reynolds also takes this opportunity to heap more condescension on Andrew Sullivan and others who dare to call a homophobic policy a homophobic policy. Somehow, I suspect that if it was southern law professors who were denied the right to marry that this issue might not be considered so trifling.)
If anything can make the quickly decaying New York Times look good, it's Instapundit.
I sold out. I'm not ashamed. Clicking on those ads makes me money. So go ahead and do it. You still get to read the blog for free, but now you can create an incentive for me to continue updating daily. (On that note, it's been an awfully slow week. Sorry for that. It's partly classes and partly the fact that I tore ligaments in my ankle at rugby practice---a small catastrophe that upsets my plans for more than just blogging.)
I'll say this for the Instapundit. His site is enormously important in the development of the 'sphere [n.b.: the word "blogosphere" will hereafter always be condensed to "'sphere"--ed.], both for good and bad. Since I am a blogger, I obviously believe that the benefits of a new and alternative medium outweigh the liabilities involved in the legitimation of groundless arguments. If the SBVF"T" episode proves anything, it's that bloggers need to police themselves as much as they police the MSM. If Dan Rather presented forged document as genuine, then he indeed deserves the ignominy in which he now finds himself. But in a converse, logic-beggaring development, smear artists like Reynolds---who expended all his energy sustaining a campaign of defamation which any rational person must have known to be a campaign of defamation---somehow attained credibility as truth-tellers.
Eugene Volokh gives a righteous whack to the Francoists. Money quote:
But wait, it gets still more depraved. There are probably tens of millions of married couples in which the parties regularly practice sodomy. Sodomy is sometimes defined only as anal sex, but sometimes also as oral sex, which is surely the definition Mr. Kinsolving must be using, since his objection was prompted by Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, who presumably wasn't having much anal sex. It's also sometimes defined as purely homosexual, but generally as either heterosexual or homosexual; and since Mr. Kinsolving condemns sadomasochistic marriages without any mention of the sex of their partners, I take it he'd likewise disapprove of marriages of any sort that include that hideous crime of sodomy.
Yet no-one does a thing about these marriages. No marriage licenses are revoked. None are denied. Shameful. Shameless. A shame. Why don't people realize that we all have to make sure that none of our fellow married couples are having sex the wrong way?
Day 35. On August 2, 2004, Glenn Reynolds plugged Michelle Malkin's "book" defending the internment of the Japanese during WWII. It has since been shown to be a pseudo-historical fraud. But from Instapundit, still no criticism of Malkin.
Well this is a pretty much unbroken string of horrific luck stretching back to late January. First, you know who comes into my life and rips my guts out. Almost immediately thereafter, I find out I've got a hairline pelvic fracture that keeps me out of the gym and off the rugby pitch for 3 months, during which time about 15 lbs. of muscle wither away. After spending the entire summer rehabing and getting back into shape, and one week into the new rugby season...guess what...
Their own expert didn't authenticate the Killian documents.
I'm floored. That's how much President Bush's new spending proposals for a second term would cost, without factoring in the price of the war. (The Bushies don't factor the war into their budgetary calculations. Why not? It's none of your goddamn business, that's why not.)
Day 34. On August 2, 2004, Glenn Reynolds plugged Michelle Malkin's "book" defending the internment of the Japanese during WWII. It has since been shown to be a pseudo-historical fraud. But from Instapundit, still no criticism of Malkin.
Short answer: no one knows.
George Bush's manly poses have not only not succeeded in bringing republican democracy to Iraq, but as the substance of this NYT report should make clear, his policies since the idiotic "Mission Accomplished" moment have been an utter failure. I realize that there are metrics of success that don't necessarily entail western-style democratic parliamentary government, but I'd like to know which metric, precisely, allows for the interim Iraqi government to be losing ground in Baghdad to the insurgents.
Don Rumsfeld repeatedly mixes up the names "Osama bin Laden" and "Saddam Hussein." This is not a spoof. Would it be worse if he committed the error intentionally, or by accident?
This seems to suggest, fairly conclusively, that the Killian memos could very well have been produced by a typewriter in 1973. What the Insta-freeps have proven is that it's possible to create a document using Microsoft Word that looks similar to the Killian memos.
Day 33. On August 2, 2004, Glenn Reynolds plugged Michelle Malkin's "book" defending the internment of the Japanese during WWII. It has since been shown to be a pseudo-historical fraud. But from Instapundit, still no criticism of Malkin.
I was a starter in the scrimmage yesterday, and I think I acquitted myself pretty well. At one point, I broke a 30 yd. run through several tacklers and set up a try in one more phase. Plus, I managed a pretty respectable work rate and poached a bunch of balls.
Day 32. On August 2, 2004, Glenn Reynolds plugged Michelle Malkin's "book" defending the internment of the Japanese during WWII. It has since been shown to be a pseudo-historical fraud. But from Instapundit, still no criticism of Malkin.
It feels like more than three years ago. Perhaps that has something to do with the gulf between being a high school student and a college upperclassman.
"Had it been another day,
I'm playing rugby at UMASS in about 12 hours. Should be fun.
Day 31. On August 2, 2004, Glenn Reynolds plugged Michelle Malkin's "book" defending the internment of the Japanese during WWII. It has since been shown to be a pseudo-historical fraud. But from Instapundit, still no criticism of Malkin.