Friday, July 29, 2005

Away Away

So, I've been preoccupied for a while with getting in a longish Reason piece on prisoner detention. That's through, but tomorrow (or today if you're on the East Coast like my blog is) I'm going to a seminar on democracy at Princeton--er, the seminar is being held at Princeton and is on democracy, it's not about democracy-at-Princeton. Completely unrelated to that, as soon as I have time and internet access, I have a few things I want to say about fascism.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Heroes And Villains

I'd say it's time to start talking about war-crimes prosecutions.

Look Out Angelinos

Great News!
National Review is going to Los Angeles in September.
It's a right-wing invasion into the heart of blue-state America!
You betcha.
What will Arianna do?
Blog about it or nothing.
How will Laurie David deal?
With indifference.
Will Alec Baldwin finally move to France like he promised?
Seriously, it will be a fun night with lots of great conversation and--what a scene!
Seriously, you guys, hold on, I'm being serious, it's gonna be so fun you guys. No, c'mon, it'll be great.

Nutty Nut Nut

Christopher Hitchens calls the Intelligence Identities Protection Act a nutty little law. Ted Barlow calls Hitchens' piece a nutty little argument and asks
What kind of a man responds to the exposure of a CIA agent by attacking the law that makes it illegal to expose CIA agents?
Well, Reason's own Jesse Walker for one. The difference between Hitch's nutty argument and Jesse's level-headed one? Jesse's piece is actually and entirely about why the law is unnecessary---as he put it, it's "a solution in search of a problem." Hitchens does make some salient points, e.g. the law was pushed by certain folks (er, G.H.W. Bush) who saw the CIA as an adjunct of their own anti-democratic interests, and that civil liberties-minded people should be wary of laws that make it difficult to expose the terrible things that the CIA has been known to do. But a substantial portion of Hitchens' piece stinks of score-settling over the Iraq-WMD issue, such as:
This government [Niger], according to unrefuted intelligence-gathering from British and other European intelligence agencies, is covertly discussing sanctions-breaking sales of its uranium to a number of outlaw regimes, including that of Saddam Hussein.
The CIA in general is institutionally committed against the policy of regime change in Iraq.
To which Ted Barlow points out, the Iraq Survey Group
has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991 or renewed indigenous production of such material—activities that we believe would have constituted an Iraqi effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.
What's more, Hitchens really seems to be committed to defending Karl Rove qua Karl Rove, and there is no way he's in a position to make a statement like this:
And it appears that [Rove] did [observe the law], in that he did not, and did not intend to, expose Valerie Plame in any way.
Hitchens does not, and cannot adduce any evidence to support that claim, whereas the evidence to support the contrary position is becoming overwhelming. Surely, Hitchens doesn't mean to peddle the line that Karl Rove, in full control of his mental faculties, could tell reporters that Joseph Wilson's wife was a CIA agent without ever intending to expose Valerie Plame. As if "Plame" and "Wilson's wife" referred to different people. What crazy counterpart theory does Hitchens subscribe to? As Jesse Walker put it, "Rove's apologists have been reduced to splitting semantic hairs to deny he violated the law," and it's really heartbreaking (for me anyway) to see Hitchens among them.

A BIT MORE: Back in the heady days after 9/11 ["day everything the changed that"--Put those words in the correct order--ed.], and even during the Kosovo conflict, I remember enjoying reading Hitchens on the imperviousness of the left's Vietnam-molded worldview to new data and new phenomena. Historiography does seem to repeat itself first as farce and then as farce, which must be the reason that Hitchens continues to insist that Iraq did have a nuclear weapons program worth fighting a war over. Ted Barlow excerpted a chunk of criticism from a Slate reader, which pretty much hits the nail on the head:
(Hitchens wrote) Could it be that there is an element of politicization in all this? That there is more to Mr. Wilson’s perfunctory “no problem” report from Niger than first appears? I would describe this as a fit, if not indeed urgent, subject for public debate.
Indeed, Hitch! It’s about time someone looked into the scandal of a government agent who gets sent into Niger to find evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. . .and claims he didn’t find any?! And why? Just because an Iraqi nuclear weapons program didn’t exist? Didn’t he get the memo?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More SSP

I made the blogometer.

Kuestions For The Kids

For about a one mile stretch of scenic southbound Sepulveda Blvd., I trailed a beautiful silver Mercedes CLK 500 with a vanity plate that read "EVEVEVE" and a license plate frame that read "UCLA Alumni."

1) Shouldn't the frame have read "UCLA Alumnus/a"?*

2) Was that gorgeous automobile purchased with a) the fruits of many days' exhausting labor, or b) Daddy's money?

3) Is Eve (or Eveveve) a J-o-o?

*Line edited per Evan's comment. What the fuck was I on? Fuck. Magister Guderian would be appalled.


For once, I agree with Instapundit. Heh.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Our Pal Donny Deutsch

I've said some critical things about the hippest ad-man of all before. And here's another. On ESPN's Outside the Lines tonight, Bob Ley asked DD what Lance Armstrong's [PR] stature is. DD responded: "I think, in the last 20 or 30 years, there have been really three athletes that have transcended their sports. Jordan, Tiger, and now Armstrong. But he's really in a class of his own because of the testicular cancer story...." DD did not add, but wanted to, "also, he's white."

Later-DD on Armstrong's potential as a product endorser (slight paraphrase): "He could do well endorsing anything like the bracelets, anything in that life-affirming vein...It would be a waste if he put his name on some stupid video game." Hmm. Just a thought now: if shitty ugly little plastic yellow bracelets generate a buck apiece for cancer research, how about a game that generates $49.99 (or whatever).

P1: All games are violent (says DD).
P2: Lance Armstrong's game would be a game.
C: Lance Armstrong's game would be violent and Socrates is mortal.

Friday, July 22, 2005

New At Reason

My first piece for Reason online---it's about video games and the moralizing pricks who love to scapegoat them. I wish I could take credit, but Matt Welch came up with the headline.

UPDATE: New at the Philadelphia Inquirer: They print an excerpt of my Dissent piece. I stumbled on this on my own. Shouldn't I have heard from somebody about this?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Begin Summer Reading

Pacing up and down the small corridor at the Reason office lined with shelves of throwaway books (I pace when I have writer's block), I stumbled onto an obvious classic called How Women Manipulate: Essays Toward Gynology. From the preface:
These essays, written over abou twenty-five years, appeared (with a couple of exceptions) in such men's rights publications as Transitions and Aladdin's Window as well as journals with a wider scope, Critique for example. My main purpose has been to enable men to overcome their lifelong training in deifying and mystifying women and become able ot criticize and evaluate them as human beings. The social institutions that support and enforce false beliefs regarding women, including the courts, the media, chivalry, and feminism are a barrier to men's self-development and also come under analysis. The final end of this is the objective study of women, which I call gynology [emphasis in original].
I must say, it started off well, got better, and only picked up steam from there, but it's that last sentence that I love, love, love. Let's take another look at it.
The final end of this is the objective study of women, which I call gynology.
This is gonna be good.

Welcome, Fair Alcibiades

Read this and then come up with a punchline.

Thanks Very Much

Again, through the magic of technorati, I locate a fan.

London Bombed Again

Thankfully, though, there don't appear to be casualties? Remind me again about how this all could have been avoided by leaving the Taliban in power.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Why I'm Not A (Capital-L) Libertarian

I posted something at Hit & Run about why those of us who are uneasy about the Bush administration's prisoner detention policy shouldn't be thrilled about the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Commenter Jennifer made a point that's worth repeating:
So the guy has no problem with folks being sentenced to death without a trial. But you're forgetting the IMPORTANT libertarian issue: will he raise our taxes?
And later:
I think some folks here would be willing to bring back internment camps and legal segregation, if it meant an extra fifty bucks in their pockets each week.
It's bad for the soul to be part of any movement, even one that purports to be all about individuality.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Water Retention

Christopher Hitchens' latest Slate piece has to be read---and probably re-read---to be believed. I want to avoid spoiling the surprise (and thereby protecting my readers from recoil), but I will point out that Josh Marshall, if anything, is going easy on Hitchens. Suffice it to say that Hitchens both swallows the WSJ editorial board line about a certain someone being a heroic whistle-blower, and then goes a step further by comparing that same someone to the victims of McCarthyism. See if you can read the piece without throwing up in your mouth just a little bit.

Greatest Philosopher Ever

The results are in: It's Wittgenstein in 3rd, Hume 2nd, and #1 (besides the USA) is....follow the link. (Via Kieran Healy)

Frog'd (Rove Death Watch Cont.'d)

Following up on this Hit & Run post, it appears that the president is laying down a gauntlet: Since we'll never agree on the semantic content of my promise to fire the Plame-leaker---you in the liberal media have corrupted the language anyway---if you want to see Rove go, you'd better establish his criminal culpability.

It's not exactly news that bar-lowering is a cultivated Bush administration policy. There was Candidate Bush, who hobbled through the debates with Gore and Kerry with only a few howlers ("you forgot Poland!", "I know Osama bin Laden attacked us!", "internets", and does anyone remember "fuzzy math")---and that was good enough. There's the quasi-official sanctioning of torture and abuse, which is good enough for the Nationalreviewinstapundithughhewitt crowd, just as long as some dictator somewhere in the world treats prisoners even more bestially. There are plenty more examples I'm sure we can all recite like some bizarre catechism. And now there's this: I don't give a shit what soulless scumbags work for me, if I say they're patriots then they're patriots, and you won't be telling me otherwise unless you can convict them of felonies.

Restoring honor and decency to the White House. Restoring honor and decency. Honor and decency. Honoranddecency. Honordecency. honordecency. [A diet cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper to anyone who can spot the tribute to Jeremy--ed.]

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Jason Giambi, Fatass

Steroid-free since (?) and getting thrown out at first from right field. (7:09 pm EDT)

Thought For The Day II

The Great Outdoor Games is the apex of civilization. All hail JR Salzman, boom-runner, log-roller, tamer of horses.

Thought For The Day I

'Tis heart-ache lays the lover's passion bare:
No sickness with heart-sickness may compare.
Love is a malady apart, the sign
And astrolabe of mysteries Divine.
Whether of heavenly mould or earthly cast,
Love still doth lead us Yonder at the last.
Reason, explaining Love, can naught but flounder
Like ass in mire: Love is Love's own expounder.
Does no the sun himself the sun declare?
Behold him! All the proof thou seek'st is there.
---Rumi, "Love, the Hierophant"

Friday, July 15, 2005

All Aboard

Guess who's going to Cabo!!!

Return Of The Boom Bap

As I promised, here's a response to what's been going on in the comments thread of the London bombing post.

When I first heard the news out of London, I posted my gut reaction. To summarize: the murder of innocents is not the act of the vindicators of the oppressed, it is a means of oppression; the murderers seek the annihilation of liberal culture and society; that that is their intent has exactly nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq or the maltreatment of the Palestinians; their ideology is irreducibly evil; cowardice before such atrocity gains nothing, accomodation with it is impossible. I stand firmly by those sentiments, and though I made no policy prescription, some of the responses to what I wrote seem to assume that I did. And one accuses me of a betrayal of liberalism:
By the way, I thought you were at least marginally wise, Finn...when you kill people in Afghanistan and Iraq, do you think their sons, brothers, etc. are going to suddenly be endeared to the United States? Noooooo....killin breeds killin, hate breeds hate. When are you uncivilized palefaces gonna understand that shit??? ( the way, the United States started the fight in Afghanistan by funding and training Islamic militants 25 years ago. Don't pick and choose history to fit your own alarmist mindset, lest you come to deserve the f-word yourself...)

It's terribly disappointing to me that you are just another fool beating the war drums. I thought you knew better. Galloway, however "marginal" his voice, is right: the root causes of Islamic fundementalism/terrorism will never be attacked with bombs and bloodshed--they will only be strengthened by such violence. Your rhetoric betrays your own fear and misunderstanding of the situation, and I hope that one day you wake up and realize you're digging your own grave.

You are no liberal.
How do I begin to explain how strongly and how many different ways I disagree with this? Let's take it sentence by sentence:
[W]hen you kill people in Afghanistan and Iraq, do you think their sons, brothers, etc. are going to suddenly be endeared to the United States?
Obviously no one this side of Richard Perle would believe such a thing. I'll assume, I think fairly, that the point here is a backhanded comment about the justice of the wars. (Afghanistan is the relevant precedent here, not Iraq, so unless there's any objection I'll table the issue of Iraq for the remainder of the post.) But the question of a war's justice is three separate questions: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and, as Michael Walzer reminds us, jus post-bellum. Only the last might depend upon the reconciliation of a vanquished combatant population to the victors. Unless the actual Rod's purpose is to deny that there can be just wars at all---a position that is, for not very complicated reasons, an immoral one---(legitimate) concerns about the conduct, execution, and settlement of a war do not necessarily or even likely undermine the justice of the cause itself. Not only are there just wars, but there are necessary wars as well, of which a war of self-defense is the paradigm.
Noooooo....killin breeds killin, hate breeds hate.
It fits on a bumper sticker, but it is void of content. This is not a response to questions of how a society is to respond when it it attacked; it is a way of dodging such questions.
When are you uncivilized palefaces gonna understand that shit???
Good point.
[B]y the way, the United States started the fight in Afghanistan by funding and training Islamic militants 25 years ago.
Again, I'm familiar with this history. Does the fact that the United States trained and armed the mujahedeen legitimize their cause? Clearly not. Does it give the successors to the mujahedeen carte-blanche to immiserate and enslave their subject populations while launching murderous assaults on those societies outside their control? Clearly not. Do the crimes and errors of past American governments prevent future governments from correcting those errors? Clearly not.
Don't pick and choose history to fit your own alarmist mindset, lest you come to deserve the f-word yourself.
It's terribly disappointing to me that you are just another fool beating the war drums.
I'm beating no drums. As I believe Nick Cohen wrote recently in the Guardian, it doesn't take all that much effort to pin the blame for this on Bush and Blair, but that's an analysis as unsupportable as it is facile. Even if the fascists had never attacked a western country---if they had merely confined their efforts to imposing totalitarian theocracy on their co-religionists in majority Muslim countries---liberal society would still be obliged to respond. Individual autonomy and rights are the fundamental units here, not the rights of theocratic juntas to claim to speak for the people whose liberty they have rescinded and upon whom they force a miserable future-less poverty. Liberty is not only for the likes of us palefaces. But what's more, the fascists did attack us. Self-defense is not war-mongering.

End of Death Watch . . . Begin Insurgency

Well, not to be a latecoming naysayer but as of the front page NYTimes article on Roves conversation with Novak, its pretty clear to me that Rove is not going anywhere. Its obvious and is in fact stated that the person leaking the info to the Times is a proRove apologist. What he or she is doing and what Bushs June comments about standing by his pledge TO RESPOND TO THE FINDINGS OF THE PROSECUTOR is clear. At least based on the the RoveNovak conversation that has been testified to, Rove did not commit a crime. Now who knows if there were other convos that will never be reported, but in this one he is not knowingly disclosing the identity of an undercover operative. He is merely reacting to Novaks apparently a priori info. So the prosecutor wont press charges and Bush will say the prosecutor has clearly demonstrated that there was no improper disclosure, and Rove stays. Ill put some dollars on this. The only thing that could conceivably change the situation on the ground is if the Dems and, more likely, leftist actionists somehow manage to drum up enough moral outrage and civic squalor to put the Bushite hegemon in an awkward position. But, in todays environment situations can only really be staged on television as opposed to the real world which doesnt actually exist as an arena for nonviolent militancy and alas the airwaves are being monitored. Maybe Atrios can make something happen.

Please Note . . . I am deeply sorry for the utter lack of punctuation or aesthetic splendor in the above post. My Praguian keyboard is a motherfucker.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Graft and Privacy

Nostradamus asks for my opinion on news that California's favorite son took money from supplement companies while vetoing legislation restricting the sale of supplements. I see this as a miniature version of the Big Problem (for me) with Arnold: he's a self-serving egomaniac with dubious respect for democratic norms, many of whose political positions I nevertheless agree with. The bans and attempted bans on prohormones, ephedra, and other supplements are a shameful example of Drug War posturing bleeding into hitherto untouched areas of private life, and vetoing this nonsense was the right thing to do. On the other hand, it's baffling that Arnold was either 1) so obtuse as to see nothing wrong with receiving an effective kick-back from companies whose legal standing he presides over, or 2) so much of a prick that he thinks he's just entitled to pull these numbers.


It's a little old but this polemic against creationism and intelligent design "theory" is well worth a read.

News From B-dad

So my link technology is not working well here. Thus, I will paste the entire contents of the page I'd like to direct attention to. This is from the Poynter Institute's website which you media critics out there should check out if you are not already doing so (I do not but my papa sends me things). The heart of the paste is a letter to from a journalist in Baghdad responding to an editorial by another journalist which was along the lines of "why don't you reporters from Baghdad report the great improvements going on there and the fabulousity of the US military presence." It's instructive reading.

Title: KR editor, reporter react to Yost's column
Posted By: Jim Romenesko

TO: Knight Ridder Editors
FROM: [KR Washington editor] Clark Hoyt

This is sent in response to a column by St. Paul Pioneer Press associate editorial page editor Mark Yost, posted on Romenesko yesterday:

It's astonishing that Mark Yost, from the distance and safety of St. Paul, Minnesota, presumes to know what's going on in Iraq. He knows the reporting of hundreds of brave journalists, presumably including his own Knight Ridder colleagues Hannah Allam and Tom Lassetter, is bad because his Marine colonel buddy tells him so.

Yost asks why you don't read about progress being made in the power grid, which the colonel oversaw. Maybe it's because there is no progress. Iraqis currently have electricity for an average of nine hours a day. A year ago, they averaged 10 hours of electricity. Iraq's oil production is still below pre-war levels. The unemployment rate is between 30 and 40 percent. New cases of hepatitis have doubled over the rate of 2002, largely because of problems with getting clean drinking water and disposing of sewage.

The "unfiltered news" Yost gets from his military friends is in fact filtered by their isolation in the Green Zone and on American military bases from the Iraqi population, an isolation made necessary by the ferocity of the insurgency. To say that isn't to argue that their perspective is invalid. It's just limited and incomplete.

Knight Ridder's Baghdad bureau chief, Hannah Allam, has read Mark Yost's column. Her response, from the front, says it far better than I could:

It saddens me to read Mark Yost's editorial in the Pioneer Press, the Knight Ridder paper that hired me as a rookie reporter and taught me valuable lessons in life and journalism during the four years I spent there before heading to Iraq.

I invite Mr. Yost to spend a week in our Baghdad bureau, where he can see our Iraqi staff members' toothbrushes lined up in the bathroom because they have no running water at home. I frequently find them camping out in the office overnight because electricity is still only sporadic in their sweltering neighborhoods, despite what I'm sure are the best-intentioned efforts of people like his Marine buddy working on the electrical grid.

Mr. Yost could have come with me today as I visited one of my own military buddies, who like most officers doesn't leave the protected Green Zone compound except by helicopter or massive convoy. The Army official picked me up in his air-conditioned Explorer, took me to Burger King for lunch and showed me photos of the family he misses so terribly. The official is a great guy, and like so many other soldiers, it's not politics that blind him from seeing the real Iraq. The compound's maze of tall blast wall and miles of concertina wire obscure the view, too.

Mr. Yost can listen to our bureau's morning planning meetings, where we orchestrate a trip to buy bottled water (the tap water is contaminated, when it works) as if we're plotting a military operation. I wonder whether he prefers riding in the first car -- the most exposed to shrapnel and bullets -- or the chase car, which is designed to act as a buffer between us and potential kidnappers.

Perhaps Mr. Yost would be moved by our office's tribute wall to Yasser Salihee, our brave and wonderful colleague, who at age 30 joined the ranks of Iraqi civilians shot to death by American soldiers. Mr. Yost would have appreciated one of Yasser's last stories -- a rare good-news piece about humanitarian aid reaching the holy city of Najaf.

Mr. Yost's contention that 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces are stable is pure fantasy. On his visit to Baghdhad, he can check that by chatting with our resident British security consultant, who every day receives a province-by-province breakdown of the roadside bombs, ambushes, assassinations and other violence throughout the country.

If Baghdad is too far for Mr. Yost to travel (and I don't blame him, given the treacherous airport road to reach our fortress-like hotel), why not just head to Oklahoma? There, he can meet my former Iraqi translator, Ban Adil, and her young son. They're rebuilding their lives under political asylum after insurgents in Baghdad followed Ban's family home one night and gunned down her 4-year-old daughter, her husband and her elderly mother in law.

Freshly painted schools and a new desalination plant might add up to "mission accomplished" for some people.

Too bad Ban's daughter never got to enjoy those fruits of her liberation.

The War On Language

Nicely put in a very useful longer analysis by Marty Lederman:
The Schmidt Summary explains in great detail that certain interrogation techniques approved and employed at GTMO—particularly those used on Mohammed al-Qahtani, which I've previously described, were "abusive" and "degrading," and further reveals that the interrogation of another "high-value" detainee included unlawful threats against the lives of the detainee and his family. And yet then the Report somehow, and without any explanation whatsoever, concludes that all treatment at GTMO was "humane"—indeed, that the investigators found "no evidence" of any "inhumane treatment" at Guantanamo!

Abusive and degrading . . . yet humane. Speaks volumes, doesn't it?
Lederman goes on to note that Schmidt classifies the Guantanamo techniques as within standard military practice even for legitimate POWs. Which means---wait for it---that abusive and degrading treatment is just swell even for prisoners whose Geneva-protected status is not in doubt.

Official Policy

Andrew Sullivan summarizes the findings of the (non-independent) Schmidt Report here. Whether or not "torture" was part of the Bush administration's official though secret policy on interrogations is still subject to a lot of semantic violence---and a lot of the evidence is inaccessible, perhaps permanently. Bottom line, in Andrew's words:
When president George Bush said that the vile practices recorded at Abu Ghraib did not represent America, he was right. They don't. They represent his administration and his policies. Of that there can no longer be any reasonable doubt.
I interviewed a big-shot Constitutional scholar for an upcoming Reason piece about the practice and policy of indefinite detention. One of the points he made is that the Supreme Court's decision in the Hamdi case must be their first, not their last step in determining the limits and checks on executive authority over captured persons. Why? Because in Hamdi the Supremes rejected a notion of completely unreviewable executive authority, granting detainees the right to an "impartial" hearing. But they never defined the constituents of impartiality, leaving open the possibility that a military tribunal could be sufficient. My expert hopes that the next time the SC is asked to rule on this---and next time can't be far off, as lower federal courts struggle to determine what could constitute an impartial review aside from an Article III (civilian) court---they will come to the conclusion that any potential judge in a review conducted by the military would be beholden to the military, and therefore of compromised impartiality. I think something similar applies to these periodic reports on abuse in detention facilities; the military is institutionally incapable of rendering an impartial report; therefore we need independent outside scrutiny.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How'd I Miss This?

Okay, not all that surprising considering that I only read when somebody forwards me something particularly egregious, but I really ought to read Ben Shapiro more often. Bear in mind as you read what follows that this is not intentional self-parody:
It's no wonder that because of my outspoken advocacy of traditional morality in general and of virginity in particular, I've become a favorite target of Internet leftists, who often refer to me as "The Virgin Ben."

The Internet is riddled with writing like this: "In [Ben's] case, it is helpful to remember that some people choose celibacy, while others have it thrust upon them. Poor Ben. He no more chose abstinence than Clarence Thomas chose to be black." "The Virgin Ben also apparently has never had a really great Saturday night …" "The Virgin Ben, indeed. This guy's 'interview' so completely reeks of repression that I almost feel violated having read it. Like I stepped into someone else's wet dream. It's freakin' eerie, man." "You know I'm starting to feel sorry for this kid. I look into his future and I can see that not once is he ever going to get to have really good hot sweaty sex with Miss Scarlet in the parlor with a bottle of lube. That kind of sex may not approach godliness, but for a few brief moments and a lifetime of memories, it sure feels like it."

Such heated, inarticulate and unreasoned hatred for moral standards should not be shocking.
Why would Virgin Ben cite this stuff at such depressing (for him) length? It's almost as if he needs to get laid. Now, take a gander at his concluding call to action:
But the future is not yet lost. Social conservatives must not retreat and cloister themselves; they must fight back against the continuing destruction of standards. Together, we can restore America's innocence.
Or its hymen.

(Doff of the cap to Jamie Kirchick for cluing me into this.)

For My Vegetarian/Vegan Friends/Fans

I know that your redeemer liveth.

First FW, Then The MSM

On July 12, at 10:11 am PT, I posted "Rove is Toast." At 2:06 pm, Timothy Noah wrote "Rove Death Watch, Part 1." Just like the appearance of intelligent design guiding evolution, this cannot be a coincidence.

BTW, since Nostradamus would like to know why Bob Novak isn't in jail, here's the answer: Novak sang like a fucking canary. (Surprise!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Boy's First Pundit Gig

For a glimpse into one possible future for me, tune in to WHYY's Radio Times (it's an NPR affiliate) tomorrow around 10 am EDT. I'll be on with an expert (to scarequote or not to scarequote) from Harvard and a recent Bucknell grad to talk about student politics. If you're in the Delaware valley, that's 91 FM. Otherwise, you can stream it from your computer here. I make no guarantees about my performance, especially considering that 10 am there is 7 am here, but Tim Cavanaugh sure has (misplaced?) faith in me:
Topic for discussion: student attitudes on politics; Koffler will be in character as a "young politically active voter" discussing why "Issues are supplanting party affiliation as the new guiding force for the youth vote," and he'll be drawing talking points from his fascinating recent Dissent article that dissected the uselessness of the left, the hopelessness of the right, and the myth of student "apathy." Other panelists include John Della Volpe, who directs Harvard University's annual poll on student political attitudes, so you'll know Koffler's ahead when Della Volpe exclaims, "You, sir, have the boorish manners of Yalie!"
I'll try not to disappoint.

UPDATE: Well, that was fun. I got nervous a couple of times and didn't express myself quite as well as I could have, but I think I acquitted myself okay.

UPDATE: After I went off the air, John from Northeast Pennsylvania called in to say (slight paraphrase): "I want to say something to Mr. Della Volpe. He said liberals are humorless."

The host interrupted: "Actually, I think that was Daniel Koffler."

John: "Okay, sorry then. If he thinks liberals are humorless, I have one word for him: Bushisms."

UPDATE: The final caller of the day opined that: "You guys [i.e. myself and the sweet-sounding girl from the Bucknell College Republicans] are both ridiculous...College exists to indoctrinate people into capitalism. You can be a liberal capitalist or a conservative capitalist, but the voices of opposition you hear come from anti-capitalists."

UPDATE (7/15/05): You can still hear my clip, just follow the link to Radio Times and search for "koffler".

WSOP 2005

Guess who's the chip leader as of 2:31 pm Pacific Time.


Or something like it. Some say beware. I say, Hooray! (Via Sploid.)

Prague Is Like Death

Oh, again, too long, too long. I was just enjoying the excellent exchange between Finnegan and Nostra in the post below and its comments section. Good stuff, old boys.

I want Rove's scalp on a plate of goulash.

Prague is not really like death, although my corpse will smell something like it. It's interesting . . . politics doesn't really exist here. Just lots of bitter curmudgeons and people with mullets, which i guess is sort of like a micro-politics of barbarism.

Could some of you over in the States start circulating an impeachment thingee, or maybe just call the administration a den of fascists and start spreading that around? it's funny -- if you want to see the shit end of capitalism come to prague. America and Havel really did a good job of transforming this place from its bleak Soviet past into a shimmering wonderland of british casinos, latvian prostitutes, and the smell of shit.

That's all for now.

I hope everyone is healthy and happy.

arm yourselves

Rove Is Toast

Watching the White House reporters clawing at Scott McClellan reminds me of the scene in Rocky IV when Ivan Drago is finally cut: Apollo Creed's former manager, now in Rocky's corner, shrieks, "You see, he's not a machine! He's a man!"

These bastards have never been hurt like this before. Everyday this thing continues not just Rove's, but Bush's credibility suffers. If the major political story for the year leading up to the 2006 elections is corruption in the White House, the Republican party is going to be pretty soundly defeated.

So, here's the question. Surely Rove himself can see the handwriting on the wall. But he's too powerful within both the Republican party apparatus and the White House to be forced out; if he goes, it will be willingly. Does Rove tell the president he needs to spend more time with his family, or no? (Or put it another way: Just how addicted to power is he?)

Jewish Exceptionalism

Recidivist attendees of the Wake know something about how disturbing I find the efforts of right-wing Jewish intellectuals (and pseudo-intellectuals) to legitimize some kind of racialistic chauvinism among the Jews. Dennis Prager is one of the worst offenders, and I have some thoughts about his latest output over at Hit & Run. The absolute worst offender, of course, is David Gelernter, whom I devoted some ink to here.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Place Holder

Don't worry, I've read through all the comments on the London bombing post and I'm working on a longish substantive response. First though, I've got two Citings due for Reason today.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Warmed My Heart With A Cool Island Song

After jotting down my initial reaction to the London attacks, I decided to respect Kevin Drum's injunction against politicking it for a little while and instead planned a trip up the Pacific Coast Highway, past Santa Barbara, and into Sideways country. Step 1 was renting a convertible to make the drive somewhat more fun than it would have been in a depressing Cavalier that still smelled of the time the actual Mahbod fashioned and used a potato-bong inside it. Before my car reservation began, somebody crashed the damn thing and I got upgraded to a Benz at no extra charge. The only thing I can say about it is holy shit. I've never before actually enjoyed driving, and that car was a pretty good argument for giving up this freelance bullshit and going to law school. Intellectual integrity is a nice thing to have, but I also really want one of these.

So, anyway, Lake Cuchuma is beautiful, and Solvang is a picturesque town where it's always Christmas and everyone goes to bed c. 9:00 pm. Back in LA, I saw Batman Begins at Graumann's Chinese Theater, which has been swallowed whole by the cancerous Hollywood & Highland Complex. Quick: the new Batman is a very good movie, even better than the first Michael Keaton Batman and obviously far superior to the subsequent sequels. The superlative thing about it is that it creates massive continuity errors for the rest of the movies---enough to give the actual Tom material for years to come.

Finally, earlier today, at the Mecca, Gold's Gym in Venice, my life's purpose was fulfilled. I met Hulk Hogan. The Hulk Hogan. As I was showing my companion at the time around the gym, s/he pointed out a guy in the back at the leg presses who looked like a bodybuilder. But it was no bodybuilder. It was The Hulkster. Should I say something? Ask for an autograph? A photo? Those questions were answered for me when, a few minutes later, our paths crossed exactly. I exclaimed, "Hulkster!" He responded, "T'sup brotha."

Now, time to start thinking about war and piece(s) again.

Official Rankings

While I was away, certain individuals posted their personal rankings of world religions in a comments thread. It just so happens that by virtue of being both a blood-sucking j-o-o-o-o-o JC-killer and a member of the traitorous liberal elite media, I get advance access to U.S. News and World Reports official annual standings on world religions. I haven't bothered to read the fine print of the report, but as I understand it, the rankings are based on a cumulative score across six categories. The first three count positively towards the final score: attitudinal aesthetics, ritual aesthetics, and approximation of The Truth. The second three count negatively: preposterousness of mythopoeia, preposterousness of metaphysics, and hostility towards empirical science. Scores are out of 100.

1. Self-Hating Judaism (99.3)

2. Zoroastrianism (94.9)

3. Regular Judaism (89.7)

4. Ancient paganism (85.3)

5. Modern paganism (75.6)

T6. Sufism (71.2)

T6. Sikhism (71.2)

T6. Taoism (71.2)

T9. Liberal Protestant Christianity (69.5)

T9. Shi'ite Islam (69.5)

T9. Buddhism (69.5)

T9. Hinduism (69.5)

T9. Confucianism (69.5)

T9. Shintoism (69.5)

T15. Sunni Islam (60.1)

T15. Orthodox Christianity (60.1)

T15. Post-modernism (60.1)

T15. Marxism (60.1)

19. Hare Krishna (52.2)

20. Conservative Protestant Christianity (45.7)

21. Mormonism (39.4)

22. Catholicism (36.9)*

23. Christian Science (32.0)

24. Ulster Unionist (Ian Paisley) Protestantism (23.6)

25. Satanism (19.5)

T26. Cult of St. Terri the Martyr (1.1)

T26. Objectivism (Cult of St. Ayn the Rational) (1.1)

DNP - Wahabbism

DNP - Scientology

*Catholicism is the only religion whose ranking has been dynamic in recent years and tabulators are considering splitting it into separate contenders: Vatican II (John XXIII) Catholicism, post-Vatican II Catholicism, Whatever lives up Josef Ratzinger's rectum Catholicism, and Gibson (pere et fils) Catholicism. Read more here.

N.B.: I didn't write the list. If it offends you, contact Michael Barone.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

In Good Company

Some first order Frummery from the Frum:
I don't believe that public schools should embark on teaching anything that offends Christian principle.
Sounds like a good policy.

Read the rest, it's a hoot (e.g. Stephen Moore on what he thinks of intelligent design: "I generally agree with said critique." Even the phrasing is preposterous.).

The War, Again

Fascists have bombed London. I think Ken Livingstone put it well:
I want to say one thing: This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful, it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners...That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith, it's mass murder.
The thugs who did this want to kill all of us---those of us who find George Bush repulsive at least as much as those who think he belongs on Mt. Rushmore---and they will still want to kill all of us long after the last US forces leave Iraq. They would have wanted to kill all of us if no US forces had entered Iraq. Which is why George Galloway is so full of shit:
We have worked without rest to remove the causes of such violence from our world. We argued, as did the Security Services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain. Tragically Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.
Precisely whom does Galloway think started the fight in Afghanistan? This Andrew Sullivan reader has the right idea:
One thing I've got to disagree with you on is that there will be a push for policy change but not for the reason Galloway and others suggest. Brits will demand that we hand over the calm south to Iraqis and move troops (in particular SAS) to Afghanistan. There are some people in the mountains that we need to settle a score with.

MORE: Something else to keep in mind, before the apologetics come out. This is how the attacks were orchestrated, via Oxblog:
I'm quite struck by the strategic cynicism of attacking public transportation, and then after an interval, the crowded bus lines once commuters had been diverted to them. But several friends I spoke with this morning who have lived in Israel say that this pattern - an initial attack, followed by a staggered attack on emergency services once they'd arrived - isn't at all uncommon [emphasis mine].
That's evil compounded, and evil is the right word.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Solution To The Crystal Meth Epidemic

Ban household cleaning supplies and Sudafed. These things are not so difficult.

I Did A Nice Thing

For Nostradamus & co. You, too, could be link'd on Hit & Run. Just convince me that grokking the minutiae of Back to the Future fits the "free minds and free markets" idea. Double points for not calling me a "scurvy, auto-fellating hogfucker." (Hint: If I were limber enough to auto-fellate, I'd never leave home. Although on second thought, that does sound a bit gay.)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

At Last, The Frog March (?)

Lawrence O'Donnell claims that the forthcoming document dump from Time---dumped to save Matthew Cooper's ass---fingers Karl Rove as the leaker in the Valerie Plame case. Michael Isikoff's piece on the matter doesn't make such a strong claim about Rove, but does identify Rove as the subject of some kind of felony investigation. (Links via Josh Marshall). That's it for me till sometime next week.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Paranoid Style

Yeccch. I'd have more to say if it weren't Friday.

Funniest Thing I've Ever Seen

Maybe. The Metamorphosis bit is my favorite.

Revenge Of The Shields

The former Mrs. Agassi takes a wild guess:
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression," Shields wrote.

She added that Cruise's comments "are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general."

Don't Look Now, But

Doyle Brunson won another WSOP bracelet.

Gear Up

First it was a joke, then it wasn't: Sandra Day O'Connor is leaving the Supreme Court. Remember when bipartisanship carried the day and the nuclear option was averted? Yeah, say goodbye to that (not that the reach-around across the aisle wouldn't have been a load of manure even if it could have been a permanent solution).

I have no idea who O'Connor's replacement will be but I'd say it's a pretty good bet that whoever it is would have voted with the majority in Raich and Kelo. George Bush's dad George Bush gave us David Souter (fat lot of good that turned out to be, huh?), Reagan gave us Anthony Kennedy (ditto), but George Bush's son George Bush has demonstrated nothing but utter contempt for the federalist/limited government branch of his own party. I'd be pretty surprised if the nominee isn't somebody with a Family Research Council certificate of authenticity (or at the very least is highly amenable to James Dobson)---unless it's a vacuous apparatchik like Gonzales.

UPDATE: Okay, here's an idea of who the replacement might be (via Andrew Sullivan). So, no chance of Posner at all, huh?

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