Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Hard Life Of The Vanity Fair Columnist

Hey, Wolcott's free to trade his column-space for mine; I at least get to write pretty much whatever the fuck I want. Also:
I think the Bushies are now too deep into the crackup stage to attempt and enforce a crackdown on opinion. The very vehemence of Hanson's report is a sign of impotent frustration.
The suggests a political programme for the opposition: Make the administration something ordinary people laugh at. No number of fake interviews with Sean Hannity can help you once you've become an object of ridicule (ask Harriet Miers).

A Few Thoughts Re: Masquerade Ball And Contretemps

1) Did you see who I was with? No? Jesus, nobody can blow it like I can blow it.

2) [UPDATED 10/29: The original content here was poorly phrased--ed.] There's a good chance I saw at least one STD transmitted last night. Could it have been you?

3) Naked parties: If you want to meet a girl (or guy) this is the absolute worst place in the world to be. It wouldn't be quite right to call it an antiseptic atmosphere, but the thin blue line that keeps a naked party from turning into an orgy is actually pretty thick.

4) Naked parties part deux: If you're going to organize one of these, there are certain things you have to plan for that are quite a bit more urgent than at a regular party. On of these is crowd size relative to party space. When the ratio gets too large, bad things start happening.

4a) Since, as last night demonstrated, letting everybody in is a disaster, there's got to be some means of deciding who gets in. First come, first naked, you say? Well, what if, to solve the problem of there being too much bad naked and too little good naked, you instituted, I dunno, a quick fitness/flexibility test prior to entry (and nudity).

5) Did you see who I was with? No? I blew it.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Senate To HIV Patients: "Fuck You"

Three -- count 'em -- three Democrats voted in the affirmative to transfer $60 million from an earmark for improvements to a Japanese garden at the CDC facility in Atlanta to HIV treatment. (11 Republicans also voted yay.)

Since I don't think that the Democratic party is pro-AIDS, the only explanation is that the Democrats are so fearful of having to give up their states' own abominable pork projects that they categorically refuse to do the manifestly right thing. This is a party that stands for absolutely nothing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bush's Sheep Mourns Caligula's Horse, Recalls The Martyrdom Of Pilate

Li'l Hugh Hewitt, eyes flush and balls ascended over the Miers fiasco, recalls another of the modern Republican party's Christ-figures:
"I brought myself down. I gave them a sword and they stuck it in and they twisted it with relish."
That was Richard Nixon speaking to David Frost. Hewitt thinks there's a lesson here, and incredibly, one that supports his position.

Did Nixon give them a sword(there was always a "them" with Nixon, wasn't there) by illegally interfering in the wartime diplomacy of 1968 in order to discredit the Humphrey campaign, or by approving Kissinger's genocidal designs on southeast Asia, or merely by orchestrating a criminal conspiracy against branches of the US government in order to save his own sorry ass?

WHINY UPDATE: Is there any chance, any, that Posner gets the SCOTUS seat?

PAPER OF RECORD UPDATE: Li'l Hugh gets op-ed space in the New York Times. Um, impeach Sulzberger(!)?

What To Do With Caligula's Horse?

Now that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her Supreme Court nomination according to Charles Krauthammer's screenplay directions -- in anticipation of which, Mickey Kaus wrote: "Of course, since this face-saving impasse will undoubtedly be widely reported as a face-saving impasse, it's not clear it will actually be face-saving." -- take our interactive poll to determine what she can look forward to.

A) made into glue

B) made into violin bows

C) made into inexpensive sausage casing

D) made into gelatin

E) used as cheap source of meat for developing nations

F) returns to her old job providing the prop uterus in Bush's daily re-enactments of the birth of Minerva

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I Guess I Wuz Wrong

...I guess Norman Finkelstein was right: sure, there may be anti-Semites, but the so-called phenomenon of global anti-Semitism is little more than a conspiracy of Zionist Jews to secure money, influence, and political cover for their crimes against the Palestianians.

Or not.

New At YDN

In my first New Haven-centric column, I endorse a candidate for alderman:
I have no idea whether Nick Shalek is up to the tasks of the office he seeks...but I do know that he is neither sclerotically wedded to a governing ideology with a proven record of failure, nor happily and consensually beholden to the intractably corrupt central committees of special-interest lobbies who do not speak for the rank-and-file of their own membership, let alone the broader community. On that basis alone, he is the best of the field of candidates for Ward 1 alderman.

There is a gruesome irony in the fact that a colony founded to escape the wanton Puritanism-lite of Massachusetts should have evolved into a rotten borough on a par with the worst excesses of Hanoverian England. In the interest of slowing, and perhaps even halting the growth of machine politics, this column officially throws its support to the candidacy of Nick Shalek, and urges its vast readership to do likewise.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks, RIP

Submitted without comment:

8:37 am: "Bets are now being taken on which editorial cartoonist(s) will salute the passing of the Civil Rights pioneer with a panel showing Parks riding at the front of a bus... into Heaven."

7:07 pm: "I was taking bets just this morning, but since it's already at least a four-way tie, we're going to need an instant replay challenge...Here's hoping a busload of editorial cartoonists might meet with a Sweet Hereafter-style tragedy sometime soon."

Cold Water

Something for us liberals, hawks or doves, to keep in mind.

Harmonious Convergence

It's really late, so this will just be a stop gap. As alluded to earlier, anonymous thinks I'm "delu[ded] about [my] own subtlety and fairness," devote my YDN columns to "coerc[ing] and re-hash[ing] the same position over and over again," "interpret and judge politics in terms of a single criterion, individual rights," "seem more interested in styling yourself a public intellectual than in cultivating genuine debate."

What prompted this---and I'll get to a response in due time; for now let's just say that I apologize for my seemings, and that anonymous should apologize to me for either not reading or not competently reading my YDN columns---was my fairly obviously light-hearted criticism of Peter Johnston for rushing into print his pet interpretation of the current subject of his DS course. (That this post was a joke seems, or better yet, let us say, is irrelevant to anonymous, who incredibly thinks that "This is ridiculous" would constitute a potential counterargument to Johnston that avoids the pitfalls of coercion and repetition.)

In any case, in what was, according to anonymous, my "suggest[ion] that the author lacks intellectual poise," and what was, on planet earth, a reflection on the tendency of DSers to get absorbed in their curriculum to the point of losing their bearings, I expressed the worry that old Peter, if he's not careful with the devotion to Plato, will soon find himself a member of one of the Yale Political Union's right-wing parties, and therefore severely handicapped in his prospects for getting laid. Well, Johnston is back in print today, with an attack on, you guessed it, political individualism, and his op-ed is about as clear a giveaway as there can be that he's joined a conservative YPU party.

In closing, if anonymous is reading this, I'd appreciate it if he'd 1) give an exhaustive presentation of the multiplicity of criteria by which he judges politics, as well as a non-arbitrary account of why they are not expressable as maximization principles, and 2) use his name if he has any desire to continue this dispute.

HARMONIOUS CONVERGENCE SIDENOTE: One point I was hoping to get to in my supplement to Julian Sanchez's critique of maggiegallagherism concerned the following passage in Gallagher's farewell post on the Volokh Conspiracy:
....the reality that humanity comes in two halves, male and female, who are called to join together in love, not only as a private satisfaction, but in order to make the future actually happen....
One of the Volokh commenters describes this as "quasi-Catholic mysticism." I think it would be more accurate to call it Catholic quasi-mysticism. Quasi-Catholic mysticism is better exemplified, no bullshit, by Peter Johnston, who writes:
The declaration [of Independence], however, also includes elements of the prescriptive Judeo-Christian tradition inherited by the founders. This tradition emphasizes the concepts of divine providence, natural hierarchy and a respect for authority.
Yes indeed, "natural hierarchy." Now you know whence the famous "telos of man" clause of the 14th Amendment originates.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Oh Shit (Spiro Agnew Edition)

This thing just keeps metastasizing up the chain of command. If Bush escapes, it'll be because he's too ignorant and inattentive to the work of governing to have involved himself. Over to Hugh Hewitt on why the MSM [stands for mainstream media--ed.] are responsible.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has more.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Making Caligula's Horse Into Glue

Looks like things are wrapping up on the Miers front; expect Bush to lash out.

UPDATE: Well, it's not a nanny problem.

Contra Gallagher

Julian Sanchez lets the air out of Maggie Gallagher's tires. I'll try to key her car a bit later. For a refresher, here are my views on maggiegallagherism. I'm not an adherent of genetic fallacy, but this is worth remembering, too.

Also coming down the pike: even though I've taken my sweet time getting to it, there's more to say about the dispute between Stephen Alois Schmalhofer and myself. In brief: right-wing postmodernism is even less appealing than the original article. Finally, I've got a few words for anonymous.

Friday, October 21, 2005

BFF (Stands For Best Friends Forever)

Apropos of the Daily Kos and the Club for Growth uniting behind Tom Coburn's anti-pork amendments, it appears that Kos and Instapundit both think my man Feingold is "looking good for 08."

By the way, for a cheap laugh, ask one of your Iranian friends why "The Daily Kos" is a funny name for a website (or anything). I'll give you a hint: Patty Murray is acting like an absolute kos.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Now That's What I Call A Mugshot


Caligula's Horse Flunks Conlaw 101

Don't conservatives oppose proportional representation?
In describing one matter on the Dallas City Council, Miers referred to "the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause" as it relates to the Voting Rights Act.
Unlike Cass Sunstein, I'm not a constitutional law professor, so the Washington Post would probably not contact me to confirm that "There is no proportional representation requirement in the Equal Protection Clause." I was, however, aware of that fact. Furthermore, I received a passing grade in Phil 325b, Philosophy of Law, last spring, which means, I believe, that I have sounder credentials in dealing with disputes of the sort that the Supreme Court adjudicates than does Harriet Miers. Ergo, I am more qualified for a SCOTUS appointment than Miers, QED.

My erstwhile colleague Julian Sanchez made the crucial point here:
What's depressing here is that the debate over Miers is almost certainly going to be about teasing out her legal views and trying to figure out whether she's going to rule the "right" way on this or that issue, rather than over what you'd think would be a screamingly obvious problem: Someone whose only qualifications (beyond a pair of X chromosomes) are fanatical loyalty to the president and decent lawyering skills is the right choice for White House counsel—not the highest court in the land.
Remember all the months of Republican carping about how senators should vote to confirm based on an appraisal of a nominee's qualifications, not his/her ideology? Well, they were (partly) correct. And every single senator has an obligation to vote against this nominee, regardless of her views. That point entails, by the way, that Democrats must vote against her, even if she promised to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Incidentally, is anyone still in control at the White House? These confirmation hearing processes are not that difficult to get through. All Miers had to do was clam up like John Roberts and give no substantive answers of any kind---and have one of the lawyers at the White House who knows more about SCOTUS-type issues than she does fill out her judiciary committee questionnaire for her.

Friday, October 14, 2005

On The Air

Yale's resident political talk show, Max and the Wiz, will be discussing my Kelo piece today at 5pm. You can listen in on 1340am or I may or may not participate---depending on how soon I get back from bowling with my roommate. Speaking of which, fuck it dude, let's go bowlin.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Benefit Of The Doubt?

Andrew Sullivan's coverage of the Harriet Miers nomination has been pretty good, but this requires comment:
In general, I have always given presidents the benefit of the doubt on judicial nominees. I do again here - but want to see how Miers performs in the hearings. If she's really incompetent, we'll find out and she should be cashiered. But if she's just a meticulous nit-picker who believes that courts should intervene in politics as little as possible, why not vote for her? It's not as if she'd be the first mediocre crony in the court's history.
Although I'm not a fan of the sorts of cynical what's-good-for-the-Dems-is-good-for-the-country type arguments that Sullivan toys with in the rest of the post, it's the idea that Miers' confirmation hearings will shed any light on her fitness for the Supreme Court that needs to be combated. Sure, if she makes an absolute ass of herself---the odds against this are presumptively high, but if---then okay, lesson learned. What's much more likely, however, is that she'll do serviceably well. There are three reasons why:
1) Taking a cue from John Roberts, she won't give substantive answers;
2) The MSM have set expectations so low, that she would, in fact, have to give answers that would flunk in an elementary school civics course in order not to exceed them;
3) Media-driven confirmation hearings are not a setting in which prowess or competence in con law can be demonstrated---such a demonstration requires the years of training, writing, and theorizing that, e.g., Roberts had under his belt so as not to scare anyone with his contemptuous non-responsivenes; moreover, there is maybe one senator (Feingold, duh) capable of asking a question that could yield an insightful answer from a nominee with some, um, insight into constitutional law

Hello, My Name Is Peter Johnston, And I'm In DS

This was your reaction to all the SCOTUS news, right?
The three branches of the American government work in a similar way. The legislative is the appetitive: it is the origin of many competing proposals. It provides the raw material upon which the other branches of government will work. The judicial is the rational: it deliberates upon the legislative proposals, determining which should be struck down, and which should be remain. Finally, the executive is the spirited: it enforces and carries out the desires approved by the judicial.
Okay look, I get it, it seemed really cool when your H/P section leader explained the metaphor in the Republic. The earth didn't move for me, but whatever, our passions are not morally assessable, as you'll learn from Hume's Treatise next semester. Here's the thing. There are two ways this could work out for you. If you're lucky, you'll get really embarrassed about sucking Socrates off like no one since Alcibiades just as soon as you read the Politics and realize that Aristotle actually has all the answers to everything ever. It's okay. Most of us behave like schoolgirls around the first thinkers we encounter---though rushing into a YDN column about it was probably not a wise move, and quite frankly it seems a little gay.

If you're not lucky, you're already infected, in which case likening things to Delino Deshields' tripartite theory of the soul will keep coming up as frequently as a herpes outbreak. Before you know it, you'll be racked with a juggler's OCD about breaking up groups of three. ("You've got three apples? I guess I can't have one.---Mitch Hedburg). What's worse, if you're unable to get over Platocratestotle, it probably means you've joined the Party of the Right. And that isn't going to get you laid.

I'm writing this because your mom and dad and I are concerned.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Is Old Persian Easy?

For Evan:

I'd say Old Persian is pretty easy. The reason is that it's a consciously constructed language, at least the written form that survives as inscriptions on monoliths that are supposed to be read by any old peasant from 100 yards away. It's also very repetitive. In between new statements, there are about a half dozen costructions of the form, "Adam Kuruš xšayaθiya xšayaθiya vazraka xšayaθiya xšayaθiyanam xšayaθiya Parsaiy dahyunam." ("I am Cyrus the king, great king, king of kings, king in Persia and the other lands.")

It's true that the Zoroastrian canon is in Avestan, but Old Persian language and culture is thoroughly Zoroastrianized. E.g., the following formula appears about two dozen times in the second column of the inscription of Darius at Behistan: "Auramazdaiy upastam abara vašna Auramazdaha kara hya mana avam karam tyam hamiçiyam aja vasiy." ("Ahura Mazda bore me aid, by the grace of Ahura Mazda the army that was mine smote greatly the army that was rebellious.") In fact, Darius is a highly Zoroastrian name. The OP form of it is Darayavauš. The š is just a nominative ending, and the stem is Darayavahu-; in the inscriptions, the h falls off simply because there was no OP cuneiform glyph for "hu," although there was a "ha," which is why the h reappears in the genitive Darayavahauš. (Ditto for the reason that Ahura Mazda is Auramazda in the inscriptions, and presumably Ormuzd in Herodotus.) The point of this is that "vahu" is a northeast Iranian, i.e. Avestan word for "the good," (it's related, I believe, to a Sanskrit word for existence), that got transmitted into OP as a Zoroastrian idea.

Oh yeah, the relationship between OP and Avestan: OP was the language of southwest Iran, Avestan of the northeast. The differences are dialectal. E.g., a lot of s sounds in Avestan become θ in OP (they then became s again in modern Persian because of other dialectal influences, including Arabic). To take an example of OP descent that you'd relate to: sistit is 3rd person sg. in Latin (right?); in OP, any initial pIE s becomes h, and the s after i, u, r, or any velar consonant becomes š, per the Ruki rule (which also applies to Slavic and Albanian). Then the conjugation is slightly different, so instead of sistit, you get a(h)ištati, the a being an emphatic prefix and the h, again, being susceptible to deletion.

New At YDN

I respond to Tom Lehman's love note to David Souter. Nut graph:
There is a reason why we, as a society, do not entertain, much less enact, any number of proposals -- e.g., collectivization of property, universal indefinite military conscription, forced communal organ harvesting -- which some utilitarian calculus could justify, and which indeed would serve a more obvious public purpose than, say, allowing a private development firm in New London to force lifelong residents out of their homes. The concept of individual autonomy enshrined in our Constitution thankfully restricts what state entities may do to citizens in the name of the public as a whole, and it is that very concept that Kelo v. New London jeopardizes.


Yale's own Stephen Alois Schmalhofer, who left a zany comment on this thread when he couldn't get it published as a letter to the YDN, is one of our comrades in blogging. This appears to be an earnest post:
The Crusaders beat archrival Columbia, a team notorious for the anti-Catholic slurs yelled by their fans. Rarely is such genuine hatred shown in high school sports. It was homecoming weekend, making it that much sweeter. The Crusaders are 6-0 and in prime position to win the section and make district playoffs.
Do Columbia's fans defame the RCC with chants about papist idolatry and the whore of Babylon? Or rather, do they insist that the Vatican account for the whereabouts of wanted Croatian war criminals under church protection? I know everybody's a persecuted victim these days, but nobody outdoes right-wing Catholics when it comes to insufferable whining.

Federalist No. 76: Hamilton Calls It "The Aristocrats"

Rim shot. Maybe that's what Rove told Dobson.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Place For All At The Blog Of Victory

Just noticed this through a blog-roundup on Slate: this is a blog for right-wing neopagans. Isn't the other name for right-wing neopagans, Nazis? Am I wrong about this?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Man Bites Dog

Er, Senate grows backbone:
The Senate defied the White House yesterday and voted to set new limits on interrogating detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, underscoring Congress's growing concerns about reports of abuse of suspected terrorists and others in military custody.
The margin was 90-9, and you can review the yeas and nays here.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush To America: "Fuck You"

Never mind that Harriet Miers was never a judge. She is amply qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, in virtue of her service on the Dallas City Council and head of the Texas Lottery Commission.

I don't care if someone turns up a memo in which Miers favored abortion rights up to and including un-unborn fetuses in their 63rd trimester; this nomination must be defeated.

UPDATE: Since the Democrats undoubtedly would assume a supine posture if Miers turned out to be pro-choice, it's nice to see that the right is supremely pissed about this.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Timely episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm tonight. The plot revolves around the relationships of Jodi, Marty Funkhauser's daughter, played by Mayim "Blossom" Bialik. When we meet her, Jodi is an ex-lesbian, having just begun a relationship with a man after, well, you get the idea. When Larry is introduced to Jodi's boyfriend Dan, he proceeds to ask Dan if it's not intimidating to date a former lesbian, on the grounds that women are going to be so much more familiar with the equipment and he might not measure up. Dan freaks out and breaks up with Jodi.

That's just not believable. There is no way that a man in Dan's position would not have already considered that possibility.

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