Democracy In Ukraine
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?!!!
My favorite thing about Christmas is that it's as far away as you can possibly be (at least during leap years) from next Christmas. Now that we've made it to the day after, Christmas 2005 is already uncomfortably close. Why do I hate Christmas? Is it because, like Nietzsche, I regard Christianity as the life-negating Buddhism of the West? I do in fact hold that view of its Augustinian form. However, the "Christmas" holiday---an event beginning around 11:35 am the day after Halloween and ending around 11:35 pm January 6 (the day of the Epiphany for you non-believers), sandwiching in between these bookends a mega-orgy of Paris-Hilton-mainstreaming commercialism, television programming that's four parts saccharine, three parts shit, and half a part tap water, alongside the idolatrous sanctification of a fat, bearded, red-robed peeping tom who extorts from the nation's (Christian) children a morality of naked self-interest posing righteously as the ethical polarity of "naughty" and "nice"---has exactly nothing to do with the Nazarene religion or the acknowledgement of the incarnation of its Messiah.
I find answering this question is an edifying exercise both when reading Highlights for Kids and Jonah Goldberg's posts on The Corner. In re: some inane conversation among Cornerites, Jonah writes:
Shannen - I have a -- not very original -- theory about Citizen Kane. I liked it more than you, but I think one of the things that hurts it is that all of the techniques that make it a great movie have been so completely absorbed into the medium that they don't seem that original now. This is a problem with many "firsts" they quickly seem antiquated precisely because of their influence. I've always thought the Beetles will eventually decline in esteem because of a similar phenomenon.Okay let's see: No, Jonah isn't all that original in pointing out that "firsts" that become thoroughly absorbed into their particular medium come to seem antiquated. That fact doesn't "hurt" the work in question at all. I was listening to a Woody Allen stand-up act in which (I think) he introduced the now stock-joke about imagining baseball during sex---and you know what, it was still fucking funny.
Meanwhile, you are objectively brilliant in noting that Office Space is an awesome movie. My one peeve, much like Andie MacDowell in both Groundhog Day (one the greatest films of the last 20 years) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (generally amusing), Jennifer Anisten brings the whole thing down because she is a terrible comedic actress on film (though pretty good on Friends).
I'm burnt out. It's been a long semester, a pretty grueling political season, and an election that didn't go the way I hoped it would, to say the least. I might check in irregularly, but I'll need most of the week off from blogging.
"When intellectuals can do nothing else, they start a magazine."---Irving Howe
A couple of items of business. First, it seems that a number of people were confused by my little attempt at satirizing Ayn Rand. Rather than kill the joke, such as it is, by explaining who Ms. Rand was and what she stood for, I'll instead link to the famous Whittaker Chambers' review of her most famous novel Atlas Shrugged (appropriately titled "Big Sister is Watching You"). There are a number of contenders for the title of worst writer who ever lived, but I think the erstwhile Ms. Alice Rosenbaum takes the prize. Her "philosophy," a hopeless mess of unsupportable assertion, rudimentary fallacy, caricaturish hyper-rationalism, and above all, bullying, has established itself as a bonafide cult for teenagers who don't fit in but think themselves superior to their peers. Her attempts at fiction writing range from unbearably awful to simply unreadable. Uh, I guess I'll leave it at that.
You tangentially talked about school prayer in this post, and I'd be interested to hear more about your thoughts... why is "prayer time" in public schools necessarily sectarian?I didn't mean to give this question short shrift, because it points to a bit of carelessness on my part. At the time I wrote that post, all I had in mind when I talked about "public school prayer" was a period in the day when someone (maybe a student) would recite a prayer and other students could participate or not as they saw fit. But of course, school prayer advocacy includes proposals for setting aside some kind of quiet "prayer time," the use of which is left up to students' discretion. In fact, this proposal might be the more common, as it's clearly an effort to appease the courts that have consistently rejected overt school prayer (unfortunately for the advocates, "prayer time" has been consistently rejected as well).
You may have already heard something about the contents of the Dec. 8 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country. It's hard really to know where to begin. How about this way: The last time there was so much overt anti-Semitism in a broadcast with national reach, Father Coughlin was still on the air.
It really is like Mohammed al-Zarqawi‘s movies on the Internet where a guy gets his head chopped off. It's gory. It's ugly and it's not inspiring.Well you can imagine that didn't go over well. Buchanan rushed to play the "how dare you be insensitive to our beliefs" card of the pedestrian right-wing post-modernism I touched on here. Perhaps you too can hear the mournful notes of the world's tiniest fiddle while Buchanan says:
Well, since about tens of millions of Americans saw it, loved it, appreciated it, and honored it, that tells us, Rabbi, I think, what you think of the intelligence and sensitivity of millions of Americans.OR: "Since tens of millions of Germans read it, loved it, appreciated it, and honored it, that tells us, Rabbi, I think, what you think of the intelligence and sensitivity of millions of Germans." But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. Nothing Buchanan has said (well, recently anyway, and, er, in public, at least as far as I know) could top the uncharacterizable mess that came out of Donohue's mouth as soon as Buchanan prompted him to speak about The Passion's Oscar prospects:
Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. That‘s why they hate this movie. It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth. It‘s about the messiah.I don't have the faintest idea how to get a purchase on this. As one of my professors said, there are two forms of moral persuasion. One is to appeal to shared intuitions. The other is to use a sword. I try to be careful not to make hyperbolic statements, and I don't think it's a hyperbole to say that if Bill Donohue's views ruled the country, Gene Vilensky and I would both have been burnt at a stake. I'll just leave the following as an open question: Although Donohue clearly hates Jews most of all, he didn't forget to let us know that he hates Protestants and ex-Catholics as well. Whom do you think he hates more, the heretics or the traitors?
Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.
You have got secular Jews. You have got embittered ex-Catholics, including a lot of ex-Catholic priests who hate the Catholic Church, wacko Protestants in the same group, and these people are in the margins.
[H]e [Boteach] shares a view that's not only of the secular Jewish community about "The Passion of the Christ." But also neoconservatives, who often align themselves with conservatives, were vicious on this movie.If your curious about that last remark, I mentioned in a comment here that Shorter Medved on The Passion is: "We kikes had better own up to our Christ-killing, or else a rising wave of global anti-Kikism is no one's fault but our own." I wasn't joking then or now. Nor is it a joke that "neoconservatives who often align themselves with conservatives" is Buchanan-speak for "bloodsucking Jewish cabal." That, friends, is the slick way to hate Jews. Has Donohue got no class at all (don't answer)?
What is your explanation for why the almost among—in the Jewish community, it is almost universal, except for folks like Michael Medved, the contempt and hatred and revulsion at what we consider a beautiful movie?
No matter what you think about “The Passion of the Christ,” Rabbi, the acting was so inspiring, so unforgettable. The scenes that he did, including the blessed mother running towards Jesus, the flashbacks, the circular camera that he used at the crucifixion that made you feel like the blood was hitting you in the face, artistic genius.Something there bears repeating: "the circular camera that he used at the crucifixion that made you feel like the blood was hitting you in the face, artistic genius"!!! So much for the notion that Mel Gibson and Quentin Tarantino aren't bizzaro-world twins. How else can one describe Giroux's faith except as blood-worship? And what is the probability that her sentiment isn't shared among Gibson's fans? Between Donohue and Giroux, we have everything that motivated Eric Cartman to found a Gibson fan club.
Now, in terms of business vs. art or art vs. politics, I think art should be paramount. And the conflict between “The Passion” and between “Fahrenheit 9/11” is a conflict between art and between political propaganda. “The Passion” is a movie that ennobles and inspires the human spirit. “Fahrenheit 9/11” is a work of political propaganda that incites hatred against Americans and hatred of our own country and of our president.It would be beating a dead horse to explain (yet again) what's wrong with characterizing The Passion as "a movie that ennobles and inspires the human spirit." Murty's original contribution to the crimes-against-reason genre of the Gibson apologists is to attack F9/11 for "inciting hatred" as a means of drawing a contrast with The Passion. As if there were any clearer form of incitement to hatred than a cinematic passion play that just about tops Oberammergau for reliance on anti-Semitic iconography as a plot device. But Murty, unlike her co-panelists, has something of a conscience:
Let‘s remember, secular Jews built up our film industry and founded most of our Hollywood movie studios and were very patriotic Americans for a long period of time. So I‘m a little—I feel some concern about the comments about secular Jews.It's charitable of her to say so, even if a very plausible way to interpret that statement is as a suggestion that secular Jews are no longer patriotic Americans.
The movies, the war movies, the Western movies—I saw somewhere where seven out of the top 20 movies of the 20th century, according to artists themselves, were made in the 1950s.Patrick my old boy, you should have known better than to trust those people 40 years ago.
They were made by secular Jewish folks. And they transmitted values of honesty and faith and courage. What has happened to Hollywood in 40 years?
DONAHUE: Yes.MSNBC isn't Fox News, and its executives ought to be ashamed of themselves (but probably aren't) that they allowed a show to become so unbalanced that no one, not even the lone Jew present, is going to call Donohue exactly what he is. Instead, we get Giroux's phantasmagoria about the moral decline of Hollywood/America hopelessly tangled inside excuse-making for anti-Semitism in general and Donohue in particular:
Obviously, he‘s concerned about secularists. I‘m talking about secularists in Hollywood. They‘re not Rastafarians. They‘re Jews. Just pick up any copy of the Jewish...
DONAHUE: And you‘ll learn that.
BOTEACH: Those Jews.
DONAHUE: Now, the fact of the matter—I didn‘t say those Jews.
BOTEACH: Them Jews.
DONAHUE: No, no, no, hold on here. Don‘t try to play this game with me here. To say that Hollywood...
BOTEACH: What a ridiculous statement.
DONAHUE: Wait a minute. To say that Hollywood...
BOTEACH: In 2004 America, the Jews, still. Come on, Bill.
DONAHUE: You‘re going to tell...
BOTEACH: Come on, Bill. Come on. You‘re too smart for this.
DONAHUE: You‘re going to tell me that the Chinese don‘t live in Chinatown, right? To say that Hollywood is dominated by secular Jews...
I constantly hear that there is a very, very strong homosexual push on Hollywood. I think it‘s the result of the sexual revolution. The decency laws, they keep pushing the envelope on that. What really makes me sad, here we are 10 minutes later, is that the Rabbi continues to pull out the anti-Semitic card, when, in fact, the pope himself, Billy Graham, all the religious leaders that lead millions around the world, have all come out and said, a beautiful movie, true to the Gospels. We all look inward and see what our part was. Pontius Pilate was conflicted.Economical, isn't she. In one paragraph, half a dozen empty labels Giroux doesn't even understand (stong homosexual push that's the result of the sexual revolution and the pushing of envelopes on decency laws indeed), an exculpation of Pontius Pilate, and the suggestion of Billy Graham---whom we actually know from his recorded statements on the Nixon tapes to be a fanatical anti-Jewish bigot---as an arbiter of what constitutes anti-Semitism. The lack of both moral and intellectual education is staggering.
MURTY: But let me address the anti-Semitism, please.This is excellent. The fact that the low low low church Protestant audience for The Passion in America hasn't had enough schooling in the iconography of 17th century Catholic anti-Semitism to know how to respond to such a movie is supposed to count as evidence against such images being anti-Semitic. Let's not say a word about the film's reception in parts of the Muslim world where the Protocols of the Elders of Zion seem to be gaining in popularity, because Murty's earned the right not to have her bubble burst.
Let‘s face it. Let‘s look at the empirical evidence. What anti-Semitic acts have there been after “The Passion” came out? There have been none. In fact, there‘s a beautiful movie by Tim Chey called “Impact: The Passion of the Christ” that we showed at our recent Liberty Film Festival in Los Angeles.
BUCHANAN: Did not the Jewish establishment want this man who said he was the messiah, who said he was the son of God, who said he was coming to bring a new religion, did they not want him out of the way?Donohue, now chest high in his own filth, pipes in:
DONAHUE: It was the Puerto Ricans that did it.And then Giroux hammers the point home by telling Boteach that he as well as all Jews everywhere aren't helping themselves by trying to duck responsibility for being messiah-slayers:
GIROUX: Yes.I've poked fun at Shmuley Boteach before, and will do so again, but his response to that remark has got to be his life's crowning achievement:
All I can say, Rabbi, is, you‘ve got to concede the fact—and it‘s difficult because we all at times in life have to say, I‘m sorry, I was wrong—we cannot go back and make it that the Hawaiians killed Christ. Mel Gibson and all Christians...
BOTEACH: What bothers me, Jennifer, is that you‘re an ignorant peasant who doesn‘t even know Christian text, for God‘s sake.L'chaim, as they say. Murty, to her credit, isn't party to the Christ-killing strophe/antistrophe dynamic. But she does manage to pinpoint the root cause of her confusion:
MURTY: Rabbi, let‘s look at the actual—I‘d like to ask the Rabbi a question. This is an honest question...The Christian right supports Israel, to paraphrase Lenin, the way that a rope supports a hanging man. Is there anyone at Yale today (as opposed, apparently, to Murty's day) who doesn't understand that the reason evangelicals are supportive of Israel is because they want all the Jews to go there in order to bring about apocalypse, in which all Jews will either be killed and damned or converted? With friends like those....
MURTY: ... from someone who is neither Jewish, nor Christian.
Let me just ask you, who are the biggest supporters of Israel in America today? It is the Christian right. It is the Christian right.
MURTY: I would like to say something, which is, you know what? I‘m not Jewish and I‘m not Christian. I‘m Hindu. And I liked “The Passion.” So there are a lot of different ethnicities working in Hollywood today.Consider it faced. The American Dream: That a Hindu Yalie, a Protestant yokel, and a pair of medieval Catholics who would subject each other to an auto-da-fe if they should ever run out of other people to persecute, can all get together, and in the spirit of brotherhood, tolerance, unity, and patriotism, heap blood-libels on an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who's made a living as an apologist for the ideology that informed The Passion of the Christ and continues to inform its defenders.
Please face that.
His description of Donohue In the course of covering his now-standard set of "Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski; the bums lost" talking points, the great Bill Donohue fingers the shadowy group that is really responsible for the Kulturkampfseems on the mark. Though this original appellation of mine might be unimprovable: Donohue is what you'd get if Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor somehow accidentally lobotomized himself. (Hey, how about this for a one-act play---Donohue runs PR for the Inquisition, and takes a courageous stand against the ongoing persecution of Catholics: "I'm just disgusted by the anti-Catholic bias we're being subjected to. Are Catholics responsible for having our kids abducted at passover and made into those funny Jew-crackers?")
This one's for Gene's sake. A judge in Alabama has embroidered the Ten Commandments onto his robe. His predictable defender, the ex-judge Roy Moore who disgraced himself by attempting to install a Ten Commandments monolith on the grounds of his courthouse, had this to say:
"I applaud Judge McKathan. It is time for our judiciary to recognize the moral basis of our law," Moore said.This is nothing so sophisticated as natural law theory. The "moral basis of our law," it seems, is a decalogue revealed by God directly to his prophet, utterly inaccessible to reason or analysis.
John J. Miller, author of a philistine book about Franco-American relations, posting at The Corner:
I tried the asparagus ice cream with K Lo. Kate O'Beirne suggested that we order it, I think mainly so we could spend the rest of our lives telling people that we've actually tasted the stuff. Can you imagine a better topic for small talk?[emphasis mine]A: Yes. And furthermore, who or what are these people?
Quite a bit of the recent blogospheric noise about the (in)commensurability of faith and reason in politics is traceable back to this post by Kevin Drum a few days ago. Responding to a LAT op-ed ostensibly aimed at defending the jurisprudential philosophy of Clarence Thomas, Kevin writes the following of Thomas's cited belief that "our rights come not from government but from a 'creator' and 'the laws of nature and of nature's God'":
Coming from a priest or a preacher, this would be fine. Coming from a Supreme Court justice who's supposed to interpret the constitution on secular grounds, it's an embarrassment.Of the right-blogosphere's reactions and responses, I thought this post by Pejman Yousefzadeh was the smartest and the most likely to foster dialogue. Pejman's main point is that the views to which Thomas adheres are an expression of natural law theory, and not to be so easily mocked. He writes:
I find it bizarre that Kevin Drum seems to think that Clarence Thomas is an "embarrassment" simply because Thomas is an adherent to the concept of natural law...[N]atural law has a rich intellectual history behind it, and indeed, the key portion of the Declaration of Independence is founded on natural law principles...Again, I do not subscribe to the natural law theory of jurisprudence when natural law comes into conflict with an originalist or strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution. But the debate over natural law and its role in American jurisprudence is a far more serious one than Kevin appears to realize. As such, the debate--along with Justice Thomas--deserves far more respect than Kevin appears willing to afford.In the body of the post, Pejman goes on to cite Thurgood Marshall in an approving reference to "natural rights." I'll step up and answer Pejman's rhetorical question: Kevin Drum would (I assume) not consider Thurgood Marshall an "embarrassment."
My feeling is that objections to Clarence Thomas’s jurisprudence should focus on what we think people’s rights are, substantively, rather than where we think they come from. But let me comment on the God vs Man question anyway. Actually, let Roberto Mangabeira Unger comment on it, from his Politics:Needless to say, I agree with Kieran (and Mangabeira), but I want to table this for now in order to set up a related problem. About a month ago, Eugene Volokh enunciated a very-persuasive looking challenge to the position I've been endorsing recently:Modern social thought was born proclaiming that society is made and imagined, that it is a human artifact rather than an expression of an underlying natural order.The Constitution of the United States is a decisive political expression of this conviction. It doesn’t preclude deep and shared religious convictions — it just doesn’t presuppose them.
Imposing One's Religious Dogma on the Legal System:The difference between the point Kevin Drum made and Pejman Yousefzadeh criticizes, versus the point I made and Eugene Volokh criticizes, is that the former concerns the politics of the metaphysical origin of human and civil rights, whereas the latter concerns the legitimacy of the source for beliefs about rights. These two arguments are more than superficially related; there are a variety of biconditionals that would follow from the various orientations they could take relative to one another.
I keep hearing evangelical Christian leaders criticized for "trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system," for instance by trying to change the law to ban abortion, or by trying to keep the law from allowing gay marriage. I've blogged about this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again.
I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many -- perhaps most or nearly all -- of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery.
Or what do you think about the civil rights movement? The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., after all, was one of its main leaders, and he supported and defended civil rights legislation as a matter of God's will, often in overtly religious terms. He too tried to impose his religious dogma on the legal system, which at the time allowed private discrimination, and in practice allowed governmental discrimination as well.
Or how about religious opponents of the draft, opponents of the death penalty, supporters of labor unions, supporters of welfare programs, who were motivated by their religious beliefs -- because deeply religious people's moral beliefs are generally motivated by their religious beliefs -- in trying to repeal the draft, abolish the death penalty, protect labor, or better the lot of the poor? Perhaps their actions were wrong on the merits; for instance, maybe some anti-poverty problems caused more problems than they solved, or wrongly took money from some to give to others. But would you condemn these people on the grounds that it was simply wrong for them to try to impose their religious beliefs on the legal system?...
So people should certainly criticize the proposals of the Religious Right (or Religious Left or Secular Right or Secular Left) that they think are wrong on the merits. But they would be wrong to conclude that the proposals are illegitimate simply on the grounds that the proposals rest on religious dogma. Religious people are no less and no more entitled than secular people to enact laws based on their belief systems.
And they would be quite inconsistent to (1) say that religious people ought not enact law based on their religious views, and nonetheless (2) have no objection when religious people do precisely that as to abolition of slavery, enactment of antidiscrimination laws, abolition of the death penalty, repeal of the draft, and so on.
Where Lukas got the impression that I was referring either to all religious believers or to all Christians is beyond my ability to guess, but it certainly wasn't from the column.But I can see why there's a certain amount of lingering ambiguity, so I want to try to clarify further.
"The separation of church and state is not in our Constitution and not in the First Amendment."
Josh Marshall explains. Step 1: "Next, as we've discussed before, this isn't a debate about 'reform', 'privatization' or 'saving' Social Security. It's about phasing out the Social Security program, or not. Framing it any other way concedes half the battle before the fighting even begins." Duly noted.
The worst thing that can happen for Democrats is that a few of their members of congress get played for fools by signing on to President Bush's plan in the hopes that they can secure some small improvements in the legislation or reflected glory for themselves -- slightly less money carved out of Social Security, bumping up the payroll tax cap, etc. Whatever miniscule benefits could be achieved in such a fashion would be greatly outweighed by the way that it would lessen the chances for fixing the damage after the next election.I'm normally put off by calls for popular-front style solidarity. But it's Marshall's throwaway line at the end the touches on why this is an exceptional case. Social Security is at stake, and that's important; but what's also at stake, and transcendentally important, is the existence or non-existence of organized opposition to the Republican majority.
The question will be how to enforce discipline at the margins. And here Democrats should take a page from the Republican playbook in 1994 (on health care) and 1998 (on impeachment).
I think Democrats should consider pulling together the major funders of the party, the official committees, the major organizations, basically the entire infrastructure of the Democratic party and making clear to individual members that if they sign on to the president's plan to phase out Social Security, those various institutions and individuals won't fund their campaigns. Not in 2006, not ever.
Similar committments can come from voters, activists and volunteers. And free rein to primary challengers. If a couple folks lose their seats because of underfunding or tough primaries, so be it...
It's that important. And there is an importance to unity on this issue that transcends the particular debate over Social Security.
"While PFAW comes close in their fascist interpretation of the Second Amendment, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are not really for overturning the Second Amendment..."
In the latest counterpoint in a recent blog-fight, Gene Vilensky has written a rejoinder to my response to his response to me (clear?). When last we spoke of this, I charged him with trying to bait me into taking a position I disavow, and with asserting a false equivalence between People for the American Way (PFAW from here on out) and like-minded groups on the one hand and politicized Evangelicalism on the other.
Well, color me stupid, but I have not heard a single statement from Dobson, Weyrich, et al. advocating theocracy, just as PFAW doesn't explicitly advocate socialism. That was the entire point of my post: the same hyperbolic hysteria Dan espouses about Wyrich/Dobson could as easily be used against PFAW. If Dan can provide me a quote where Weyrich, Dobson, et al. in fact said, that there should either be "a law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," I would reconsider my position.I'm not going to "color" him stupid, because this has nothing to do with intelligence. On the contrary, this has everything to do with having sufficient intellectual courage to criticize one's own side publicly and unreservedly when it is clearly in the wrong (and incidentally, in case it's thought that I'm the slightest bit reluctant to criticize the left, just peruse the archives of this blog a bit).
McIlhaney acknowledged that his group, which publishes "Sexual Health Today" instruction manuals, made a mistake in describing the relationship between a rare type of infection caused by chlamydia bacteria and heart failure.It was an innocent mistake that could have happened to anyone, I'm sure.
A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda."I guess there's a kerosene shortage in Alabama or something. Among the works to be buried are Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Color Purple, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Brideshead Revisted. That's just the short abridged list-for-explanatory-purposes of Kim Chandler of the Birmingham News. If the criterion is applied consistently, I don't see how more than half the dialogues of Plato could be spared, and it's a national disgrace that that should even be a plausible thing to say (don't worry, it is a plausible thing to say).
"Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle," Allen said in a press conference Tuesday.
Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.
"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.(?)Because socialism doesn't have the slightest thing to do with construing one Constitutional right so as to "deny or disparage" another. I don't really know what else to say except that this objection isn't even close to germane.
CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 just did a feature on the latest effort to destroy biological science by eradicating it among the youth. With Cooper on vacation, the show was guest hosted by a pleasant enough telebimbo, whose journalistic chops were really on display tonight. Some amphibian from the Family Research Council was booked to debate a representative of Citizens United for the Separation of Church and State. I could complain about the fact that Ms. Pastel Suit Sans Shoulder Pads treated evolution and "intelligent design theory" with equal credence ("intelligent design theory" is the name that creationists use in public settings rather than "creationism" because as long as you don't say "God," who's to say whether or not the intelligent design or its intelligent designer is a religious concept---even though the term "creationism" was already invented for that precise purpose). I could complain about the fact that the creationist got an open floor for the explicit purpose of asserting and defending the truth of "intelligent design." But to complain would be petty.
A few days ago Kevin Drum asked why, if Hollywood is so liberal, the movie stars who end up in politics are almost all (all?) Republicans? Rather than answer the question, I'd like to unveil a future governor, senator, or perhaps even president right out of God's Own Party: Vincent Gallo's cock [we figure that if Vincent is a Republican, little Vincent probably is too--ed. N.B.: No, this isn't a joke, and yes, it's there if you follow the links...somewhat obscured by Chloe Sevigny's head, however.].
I've gotten a couple of e-mails grilling me for a throwaway line in my criticism of Ben Shapiro from a few days ago. I wrote:
What's the "family friendly fare" whose triumph over a very bad Oliver Stone movie Shapiro is so enraptured by? "“National Treasure,” “The Incredibles,” “Christmas With The Kranks,” “The Polar Express,” and “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.”...In other words, three cartoons and two movies too bad for words. The is the same discriminating taste that covinced Shapiro that cutting his own hair without a mirror was the way to go.As you can see, I'm doing my level-headed best to be coldly rational and dispassionate. My mistake, apparently, wasn't taking a deserved cheap shot at Shapiro's hair (did I mention that he's a 20-year-old virgin?), but in including The Incredibles in the category of Shapiro-beloved movies that I was dismissing.
[The setting is a luxury hotel on the top floor of the tallest skyscraper in the world which is on top of the tallest mountain in the world which overlooks Manhattan. The year is 2045, at the conclusion of a transnational global war, in which the world's 634 richest, and therefore best people, declared war on the remainder of the earth's population and defeated them in hand to hand combat, despite being outnumbered 9.46372x10^6:1, proving conclusively that A equals A, that a being of volitional consciousness has no automatic course of behavior, and in a real surprise, that existence exists. They have gathered at this place to determine on the basis of objective rationality the entire future course of human history. We enter the grand ballroom of the hotel.]Well that's what I've got so far. I'm a bit worried that it's unstageable. It's obviously unwatchable---but it's Rand, and if you could sit through it, either I wouldn't have done my job or you'd be missing the point.
[The best leadership of the world stands about in nervous clusters. A man can be dimly overheard suggesting the expenditure of capital to improve the lot of suffering humanity. He is drawn and quartered, in accordance with the principles of reason. We're going to want to actually draw and quarter somebody here---it would be altruistic not to. And if the actors' union complains, we can shut ourselves up in a mountain until they relent.]
[Enter our hero, Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus.]
Eunuch #76548 [known as David Goldschmidt before the war and the revelation that he belongs to a lesser species---he speaks into a megaphone with the word "Galtcorp." etched in letters shaped out of dollar signs and wreathed by an unquenchable flame]: Gentleman, Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus has arrived.
[If any audience member smiles or giggles at hearing the name, shoot the offending party in plain view of all the cast and audience. Men would shudder if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival--but that's life, whaddya gonna do?]
William Bronzium Cobalt [a former professional football player, he discovered the cure for cancer back in 2023, when he realized that experimentation was useless and that the free exercise of rationality alone justifies the existence of mankind---he currently has controlling shares in the world's largest producer of nanotech enemas, and due to his courageous, innovative, individualist, rational, and aesthetically triumphant policy of firing and then flaying the skin of every employee, the company currently operates at 60000000% productivity]: Look there, Calliope, I'd say Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus is about to speak.
[Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus turns towards the assembled crowd---a countenance of neither fear nor hope, but of serene intensity, of the cold hot fire of a rational consciousness aware and in command of its own rationality is evident from the bottom to the top of his 9'4" inch body, which at the time of his birth was made of the average man's fleshy hydrocarbon, but had been transmogrified by sheer force of will into a form of marble harder than steel. We may need to up the make-up budget for this.]
[Where there had been nothing but air before, a box comes into existence, the product of Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus's creative productive intelligence. The looters outside the gates of the hotel at the top of the world's tallest skyscraper on top of the world's tallest mountain overlooking Manhattan could not have appreciated the box. Theirs was an aesthetic of collectivism, of weakness, of slavery. But the assembled best leadership of the world immediately recognizes the box as an object of raw and untameable genius, by which all previous art has been invalidated. It is also made out of soap. Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus ascends the box and clears his throat.]
[Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport, a woman universally recognized by all free volitional consciousnesses to be the most beautiful woman in the world, orgasms loudly, but in a way that only Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus can hear.]
Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport: Aaaahhhhhhhhh!
[Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport is the world's leading expert on commercial travel at lightspeed, having proven at the age of 13 that the dirty relativist Einstein was wrong in every particular. She is named in memory of her parents, who were 329th generation Americans as well as descendants of the Olympian gods (we have the DNA testing on this). Their greatest gift to her was to kill themselves 53 minutes after her birth, an act of charity for which she would hate them if she were capable of irrationality, which forced her to raise herself from infancy to adulthood. At 27 months old, she had annexed the state of Nebraska, which she renamed Reasonland. In adulthood, her voice began to take on a strong and unmistakable Russian accent, which surprised many of her acquaintainces considering her very American lineage and the fact that she had never been to Russia, but those who knew her best knew that the modulation of her voice was dictated by the universally applicable and understandable laws of reason. No man could hear her voice without wishing to penetrate her gential cavity, rationally.]
Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus: Those of you who wish to know knowledge, I bring you the reason you as an autonomous consciousness already possess, if only you could volitionally understand your own powers of rational creativity. [Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus's speech is as yet unfinished, though a skilled reasoner should have little difficulty determining its precise contents. The speech is estimated to begin sometime around 9:30 pm and conclude just before next Ramadan. Carry on with the show.] Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generating action. If an organism fails in that action, it does; its chemical elements remain, but its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of 'Life' that makes the concept of 'Value' possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil. Thank you.
[A cheer goes up, but Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus silences the assembly. He gestures into the crowd, making the clear and unmistakable sign of the Reasonland Pound Sterling (which had become the world's last legal currency at the conclusion of the war. It looks similar to the dollar sign, except that it is shaped like a penis, pen tucked into its foreskin, drawing the blueprints of an experimental architectural design. You can see the veins and hair.)]
[Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus steps off of the soapbox and grabs Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport and in one move puts his tongue down her throat, into her esophagus, down into an indeterminate point somewhere in her GI tract. She orgasms again. This time, the assembled dignitaries hear her.]
Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport: Aaaaaahhhhhh!
William Bronzium Cobalt: Bravo!
[A tender, passionate lovescene ensues, in which our heroine acquiesces to rape. Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus is able to come 76 times before going flaccid, during which period Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport orgasms another 1022 times. After he comes for the 47th time, she begs him to stop.]
Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport: Stop!
[Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus's arousal increases with the knowledge that she has become his property. Once again, she acquiesces to rape. N.B.: When she told him to stop, she actually meant "keep going." If he had stopped, she would have torn his head off and continued copulating, then devoured the rest of him in emulation of the praying mantis, a creature more rational and volitionally conscious than the looters who comprise the bulk of humanity. Finally, they conclude.]
Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus [while replacing his trousers]: I don't love you.
Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport: That's why I love you.
Ragnarok Miguel Antoninus Herodotus Hercules Gramsci Thornjulffson d'Acosta d'Atrophe Augustulus: Again?
Calliope Margaret Elizabeth Hecate Davenport: No.
[He removes his trousers again. She acquiesces to rape.]
[N.B.: During the lovemaking, the stage manager should assign the audience members most closely resembling beasts of burden to take down the set, mop up the blood from the execution(s), and clean the santorum stains off of the stage with a toothbrush. If they refuse, tell them to stand on line for the glue making machine. Don't worry, they're too dumb to notice.]
One quick post before I go take my Dostoevsky final [wouldn't it be more appropriate if you psyched yourself up by blowing all your money gambling and marrying a consumptive?--ed.] [Well, maybe. Remind me to write a YDN piece about the "lofty and sublime" (by which I mean insulting and preposterous) practice of assigning final exams in literature classes--F.]
I really like this VF profile of Judith Regan, who is the Leona Helmsley of the publishing industry, only considerably hotter and a bit more deranged. Contra Judith Newman, however, I've met this personality more than a few times before, and it's not one of a kind.
Nick Gillespie is propagating a major fallacy about opposition to the death penalty. He writes:
If anyone deserves to be executed, surely it is Scott Peterson, who acted in a completely premeditated fashion, showed no remorse, and on and on.Now, just for background, I'd like to say that on a personal level I'm completely indifferent as to whether or not Scott Peterson lives or dies, and I'd prefer to live in the possible world in which Scott Peterson had never been born, so that I wouldn't have had to spend months of news-watching artfully dodging any coverage of the Peterson case. (Though of course, our intrepid infotainment-media would have found something else to seize on during the same period, and I'm just guessing they would have filled the void with a child abduction or a wife-slaying, and not, say, investigation of the Torture Memo. Or oppression of women in the Muslim world.)
What happens when feverish Jihadism parodies itself....
So Yushchenko was poisoned, for sure. Who's behind this? Yanukovich? Putin? The KGB? The Ukranian secret police? All of them acting in concert? Impossible to say, but now that this is out in the open, I can't see how it won't backfire and propel Yushchenko to victory in the run-off. Which is good news.
OTOH, I think Andrew Sullivan understands what's at the bottom of Will & Grace's red-state popularity:
The gay characters on "Will and Grace" are either mainstream and sex-less, like Will, or the gay version of "Step'n'fetchit", from an actor who refuses to say publicly that he's gay. That's exactly how many Republicans like their homosexuals. Just don't ask to be treated like an equal human being.If the problem that Shapiro's "most Americans" have with the gay content in Alexander is that gay men aren't soldiers therefore they aren't generals therefore they aren't world-conquerors therefore it's all just more propaganda from the gay lobby, then there isn't much to say to them. Alexander definitely had sexual and romantic relationships with men. There's an objective fact of the matter about this. I don't think that constituency---and it does exist---is even close to big enough to preclude a movie with gay content from making money. If 25%, let alone 49% of the movie-going public, is open to seeing such a film, then it can do just fine---provided it's a good movie, whereas Alexander clearly wasn't.
A commenter asked me what the pro-Rumsfeld crowd is arguing, so here it is. Whether or not this National Review editorial is insightful is a subjective matter. What I don't think is subjective, however, is that this is probably the best case that could be presented on behalf of Rumsfeld, and, no, I don't think it holds up to scrutiny.
But more astounding was Rumsfeld's contention that "[y]ou go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." Astounding because, of course, the United States did not go to war with the army it had; it went to war with a mere fraction of the army it had (nor, for that matter, was there any reason it could not have gone to war "at a later time"--even the administration's most dire predictions of Saddam's capabilities did not demand action in March 2003). In fact, invading Iraq with a light force (or, on the cheap, to put it less charitably) reflected the central thrust of the Rumsfeld doctrine--a drive to transform the U.S. military to a smaller, more mobile force less dependent on heavy, cold war-era equipment. The success in toppling the Taliban using only a few hundred special operations and CIA forces in late 2001 only cemented for Rumsfeld that what the military had was not necessarily what it needed.
So when, in late November 2001, General Tommy Franks, then head of Central Command, first briefed Rumsfeld on the existing war plan for Iraq, which called for the use of 500,000 troops following a seven-month buildup, the defense secretary scoffed and sent Franks back to the drawing board. Deploying half a million troops, after all, would have effectively relaunched Desert Storm, a conflict modeled on the Powell Doctrine and its demand for decisive force. But as Bob Woodward reports in Plan of Attack, Rumsfeld believed that such a traditional approach was too risk-averse, resulting in the addition of needless troops and time to any plan. Instead, the defense secretary argued that the Pentagon needed to embrace more risk, not less. In this, he had allies who floated radical war plans. His deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, suggested using only about 10,000 troops to establish an enclave in Iraq from which Saddam could be overthrown; and Rumsfeld was, at least briefly, impressed by the thinking of Colonel Douglas MacGregor, who believed the Iraqi regime could be toppled with 50,000 men. Facing intense pressure from the secretary to devise a plan with a smaller ground component, Franks's estimates shrank and shrank again. The next iteration of the plan Franks presented to Rumsfeld called for fielding 400,000 troops over six months. By January 2002, invading Iraq required only 245,000. Ten months into the planning process, the number was down to 140,000.
Reducing the number of troops deployed was not the only change Rumsfeld made. In April 2003, Seymour Hersh reported in The New Yorker that the defense secretary removed the original war plan's call for hundreds of tanks and other armored vehicles to be sent to the region before the invasion; instead, he wanted to rely on the far smaller number of heavy vehicles that had been pre-positioned in Kuwait. This rubbed many the wrong way. According to Hersh, "In the months leading up to the war, a split developed inside the military, with the planners and their immediate superiors warning that the war plan was dangerously thin on troops and materiel." But Rumsfeld was unconcerned. In fact, he was willing to give up not only troops and equipment, but an entire military front. In early March 2003, just weeks before the invasion, when Turkey unexpectedly told the Pentagon that it would not allow the 4th Infantry Division to pass through its territory, Rumsfeld decided to launch the war without a northern front--or the 4th Infantry. In other words, he very consciously, and quite literally, decided to go to war without the army we have.
Something is rotten in Denmark. More TK.
Ben Shapiro (i.e. this Ben Shapiro) knows why Oliver Stone's Alexander bombed. It was apparently just too gay. Heh. And to think I ever believed the movie flopped because it was terrible.
One of the shows most popular with Republicans, especially Republican women ages 18 to 34, turned out to be "Will & Grace," the sitcom about gay life in New York. As a result, while Mr. Bush was shoring up his conservative credentials by supporting a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, his advertising team was buying time on a program that celebrates gay culture.(Read more here about the TV shows that real Americans like to watch. It's not all family channel.)
Critics love films with homosexuality, but very few of those films go on to see great popular success. Since 1994, 17 actors and actresses have been nominated for Academy Awards for playing gay characters; meanwhile, every movie nominated for an Oscar since 1994 containing substantial homosexuality has fallen well-below the $100 million mark, except for “As Good As It Gets” and “American Beauty,” both of which were fueled by Oscar hype.Makes sense, no? All the films "containing substantial homosexuality" (try to imagine the expression on Shapiro's face when he wrote those words) do poorly, except for the ones that do well. But those are driven by Oscar hype. Except for the ones that get Oscar hype and don't do well. QED. Or something.
When you bomb my place of worship, it's on.
Last item before I'm gone (to bed) for the weekend: Here's a worthwhile Fox News editorial (no, really) defending steroid use in professional sports. The case is incomplete and could be made better, but it's certainly a very good preliminary brief.
Done. And it seems like another triumph, natch, although my physical senses stopped working correctly sometime around hour 30 of this Battan death march (figuratively, I mean--relax). We're now in the 49th hour, although I will admit to taking something that could be construed as an hour long nap during hour 38. It's tough to tell, because I was very far from off the high from all the stimulants I abused, and so rather than sleep the way that people do, I entered a kind of vegetative, catatonic state of partial sensory-awareness. I can't remember if my eyes were closed.