Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

2/26/2005

He's baaaaaaack

And this time, he's blogging!

Former man-whore and current journalist (though one might argue that that's not a change in career, just in AOS) Jeff Gannon turned the lights out on his personal website in the immediate aftermath of his "outing" as James Guckert, but now they are back on, and J.G. is kicking ass and taking names:

I'm baaaaaaack! If you thought I was going to slink away - then you don't know much about me. Someone still has to battle the Left and now that I've emerged from the crucible, I'm stronger than before.

Despite all the pleas from the Left to go over to the 'dark side' and expose the 'corrupt Bush administration' simply isn't going to happen. My faith and my ideology are rock solid.


To which The Poor Man snarkily adds: "No word yet on whether his faith and ideology are 8"+ cut."

In case anyone was wondering, Jeff/James, like our friend The Anal Philosopher, prefers not to allow comments on his new blog. In Gannon's case, though, I can't say I blame him.


Bush adds 9-year-old to the team

Via Blogenlust, who wonders, "What does it say about the President when a 9 year-old boy from Texas is recruited to articulate his Social Security proposal?":

The battle over Social Security has been joined by an unusual lobbyist, a 9-year-old from Texas who has agreed to travel supporting President Bush's proposal.

The boy, Noah McCullough, made a splash with his encyclopedic command of presidential history, earning five appearances on the "Tonight" show and some unusual experiences in the presidential campaign last year. He beat Howard Dean in a trivia contest at the Democratic National Convention and wrote for his local newspaper about his trip to see the inauguration.

"He's very patriotic and very Republican," said Noah's mother, Donna McCullough, a former teacher and self-described Democrat. "It's the way he was born."

In a sign of how far groups go to carry their message on Social Security, Progress for America has signed up Noah, a fourth grader, as a volunteer spokesman. He starts on spring break from James Williams Elementary School in Katy, Tex.

[...]

Noah will travel to a handful of states ahead of visits by the president and will go on radio programs, answer trivia questions and say a few words about Social Security. Though he is obviously not an expert (and not really a lobbyist, either), officials say the effort is a lighthearted way to underline Mr. Bush's message.

"What I want to tell people about Social Security is to not be afraid of the new plan," Noah said. "It may be a change, but it's a good change."

[...]

Noah plans to run for the White House in 2032 - and he wants Social Security addressed before then.

"It will be bankrupt when I'm president," he said.


If it were my kid, I'd hold out for Armstrong Williams money.

There's probably also a Jeff Gannon-related joke that I could make here, but even I am not that sick.

Silver lining or wishful thinking?

"Toots" at the Democratic Underground (via Daou Report) thinks that Dear Leader George W. "will go down in history as being a Liberal Hero." Why?

I believe Nader was right. Things are going to have to get a lot worse before they get better and Bush* is the man to do that very thing. He will be responsible for the collapse of the Dollar and America's esteem world wide. There will be a backlash and Liberal values will become the Law of the land. We will decide it is in the interest of the USA to take care of it's citizens first and not let Corporate America rule over their lives. America will be on the point of total collapse before Bush*'s second term is done. Republicans will have proved beyond any doubt that they are anything but financial wizards. People are going to get fed up with having Christianity shoved down their throats and the two decade long "temporary insanity" that has overtaken America will be cured. America has a very bright future and it is all because of this Bush* Cabal. All we have to do is survive him now.


First of all, I've got to admire this guy's (gal's?) bravery; nothing can unleash latent liberal rage like saying "Nader was right."

And though I'd like to agree with the sentiment here, I'm not so sure it's correct. This understanding of politics as a series of backlashes--or, alternately, as a pendulum--is popular but not particularly well-established. I tend to think that the movement to the Right that is being made during the Bush years will be more or less permanent.

This is not to say that movement the other way will never come. But now it has farther to go than it would have under President Kerry. And any Supreme Court nominations that Bush gets will make their effects felt for decades to come.

Which is why, for lefties, this recent election was such a heartbreaker.

James Wolcott pisses me off

Because he is a million times the writer I could ever hope to be.

In a post entitled "Lipstick Fascism" (ha!), Wolcott takes note of Ann Coulter's latest gem concerning the Jeff Gannon saga--"Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president"--and speculates regarding what the reaction from the pundocracy would be if he were to make a similar comment:

I wonder what would happen if a writer, say me, were to refer in a Vanity Fair column to "that old Jew Norman Podhoretz" or, naughtier still, "that old Jewess Lucianne Goldberg."

Through the magic of exaggeration, I can just imagine the commotion. Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz would blow their respective lids ... petitions would file in to Vanity Fair demanding that I be fired, or, for penance, be forced to tour Auschwitz with Prince Harry.

Arabs of course are fair game on talk radio and the trash punditry, of which Ann Coulter is stringbean queen. Presumably Helen Thomas's very ancestry, about which I know nothing, makes her an incipient terrorist threat, though presumably commando call boy Jeff Gannon would have been coiled to pounce into action if the octegenarian made any sudden violent moves.


"Commando call boy": that's fucking brilliant!

The bastard.

2/25/2005

The Werewolf bares his fangs; right-wingers cower

Before her sex change, Libertarian Girl attempted to explain the liberal mindset as a desire for equality over freedom:

The liberal sympathizes with the weak and hates the strong. If a libertarian/objectivist like myself sees a man who has become rich because of his hard labor and intelligence, we think that there is someone to be admired. But the liberal sees such a person and hates him, and desires to equalize society by stealing his justly earned wealth and giving it to the poor.

Nearly all liberal policies are about equalizing society. Liberals support high taxes to take from the rich, with huge welfare programs to redistribute that money to the poor. Liberals support trial lawyers because they see the tort suit as a way to take money from the rich and give it to the undeserving but poor plaintiff. Liberals support any program to take from whites, who they see as the strong race, and give to who they see as the weaker races. Liberals support animals because they are seen as weak compared to humans. Liberals hate testing in schools because it exposes that some of the students have superior skills; liberals prefer the illusion that all students are equal.

...

Liberals favor the underdog nations of the third world. Liberals desire open immigration because they see that as a way of equalizing the world, by making the United States more like a third world nation. And they support generous foreign aid to redistribute money from the rich nations to the poor nations. They don't care if the poor nations are poor because of their corrupt governments and lack of free markets. Liberals hate free markets because free markets allow the intelligent and industrious to prosper at the expense of the unintelligent and lazy.


I'm not sure how much of the above is the true opinion of Libertarian "Man of Mystery", since it was written from the perspective of Libertarian Girl; but the general sentiment seems to be a common one. Of course the specific claims made here are preposterous straw men: liberals hate rich people and want to steal their "justly earned" wealth; think African-Americans are "weaker" than whites; think all students are the same; want the U.S. to become a third-world nation; etc. etc. (These statements are perhaps the ones made "in character.")

But the main thesis here--that "nearly all liberal policies are about equalizing society"--reflects a commonly held misconception about liberal policies: namely, that they are by are large designed for the purpose of achieving equality, with equality being an end in itself, something that is desirable above all other values--freedom, prosperity, etc.

The Ethical Werewolf ably demonstrates the fallaciousness of this view:

Let me introduce you to my way of being a Democrat. I'm not an egalitarian -- I'm a maximizer. I'm a hedonic utilitarian, in particular -- I think that maximizing the aggregate happiness of everyone, measured in terms of pleasure minus displeasure, is the goal of good social policy. (...) We get off the equality bus long before the Harrison Bergeron station.

So you might be thinking: (...) why do Democrats seem to be pushing so hard for equality? ... consider the diminishing marginal utility of money. If my currently wealthy father gets $1000 today, he won't buy anything with it that'll make him much happier. But give the same amount of money to a poorly fed Indian village boy (like the boy my father used to be), and you'll increase that boy's happiness tremendously. So if you're going to maximize pleasure, you'll want to massively redistribute wealth down the income scale.
...

we're not doing this to make everybody equal -- we're doing it to maximize the total happiness.


When Neil says he is a "hedonic utilitarian," he means that he subscribes to a specific moral theory, one similar to that advocated by the great philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Bentham believed that a morally correct action was one that brought about the best possible consequences. Consequences were to be evaluated by the degree of overall happiness they produced; happiness, in turn, was to be measured in terms of pleasure and pain. The pursuit of happiness, in Bentham's view, was the pursuit of pleasure (and the avoidance of pain)--a.k.a., hedonism.

Right-wingers often object to the "welfare state" on the grounds that it is unjust to take away money from someone who has earned it for the sake of helping someone else. They say that everyone has a right to his property, and that this right cannot be violated simply because doing so would help someone else. A person can choose to give his money to the less fortunate; but he cannot--or at least, should not--be coerced into doing so.

Utilitarians like Neil reject this argument, because the right to property is necessarily derivative of--and thus subordinate to--the principle of utility (i.e., we ought to do that which maximizes happiness). We only grant the right to property because we think, in general, that people will be better off for it. But when that right conflicts with the greater good, it can and should be violated. To take money from Bill Gates to pay for the healthcare of a poor child would maximize happiness: Bill wouldn't miss it, but the child's quality of life would improve significantly. So it is our moral obligation to take some of what Bill has--which we do via taxes--and give it to someone who needs it more.

Conservatives and free-market libertarians will no doubt object that laissez-faire capitalism produces the greatest good; that the propsperity that (on their view) results from free enterprise will make all of us better off.

If such a thing were true, the liberal/leftist/Democrat would have no problem whatsoever with unfettered capitalism. Unfortunately, this theory, like its close cousin "trickle-down economics," is not particularly plausible, as Neil also explains:

In our messy world, there are lots of other situations where a libertarian 'night watchman' government won't maximize. We live in a world with monopolies, prisoners' dilemmas, bad corporate governance, adverse selection in annuity pricing, and a host of other problems.


Almost without fail, the corporate sector has shown itself to be willing to act in despicable, immoral ways for the sake of profit. The only way they are ever roped in is via popular resistance, which sometimes takes the form of government policy. To think that all problems would simply take care of themselves in the context of a free market is naive.

Libertarians and conservatives often exhibit what seems to me an almost religious faith in the power of the market to maximize not only efficiency but also human flourishing and freedom. But the evidence simply isn't there; in fact, there is much evidence to the contrary.

Of course, you could always reject utilitarianism, and claim that property rights must be absolute, damn the consequences. What on earth would motivate such a view is a mystery to me, though.

Even so, abandoning utilitarianism won't necessarily help the right-winger; it is likely that on every other plausible moral theory--Kantianism, contractarianism, Rawlsianism--the economic philosophy of conservatism and libertarianism will fare no better.

Libertarians, not Democrats, want to restrict the choices people make

The Unrepentant Individual makes the argument that the primary difference between liberals and libertarians is the amount of trust they place in ordinary people:

As near as I can tell, the theory behind libertarianism and free-market capitalism is that people, left to their own devices, will usually make the right choices. Those right choices may not be the desired behavior of the nanny state, but will be rationally best for the individual. Democrats, on the other hand, seem to believe that individuals are one government decree away from throwing their lives down the tubes, and thus government needs to step in and manage and watch over to make sure we don't hurt ourselves.


A few comments. First, I think that to assume that "people, left to their own devices, will usually make the right choices" is a huge mistake. People constantly make awful choices, choices totally contrary to their own self-interest. Battered wives stay with their husbands. High-school seniors drop out with two months to go til graduation. Poor teenagers have children. All kinds of people engage in risky sex, poison their bodies with excessive use of alcohol and tobacco and other drugs, and make terrible financial decisions. Try as they might, libertarians cannot blame all of this on the state.

Now, it doesn't follow from the fact that people make bad decisions that the state should therefore step in and prevent them from making those decisions. But it does mean that the libertarian cannot justify his view on the basis of the fundamental wisdom of ordinary folk, because that is surely a myth.

Another bone I have to pick with Brad is the examples he uses:

The left doesn't think you can be trusted with your own retirement, so they'll handle it for you. Likewise, you can't be trusted with healthcare, so the government will handle that. You can't argue with your employer for benefits or working conditions, so they'll mandate those.


This is, IMO, a mischaracterization of Democratic policies. Social Security is not based on a mistrust of individuals' ability to handle their money. This gets things exactly backward. To the extent that the U.S. is a functioning democracy (in some respects it is, in others not), policies are enacted according to the will of the people. So the people have decided that Social Security itself is the best way to handle their own retirement. The libertarians seem to be the ones who don't trust the people, since they continue to insist on the abolition of Social Security, which is the people's preferred method of providing for their retirement.

The same thing goes for healthcare. It's not that Democrats don't trust people to "handle" their own healthcare; it's that they believe the best way in which to handle it simply is a nationalized healthcare program. And guess what--a significant majority of Americans agree with them.

And again, the same goes for labor issues. Brad says that Dems think "You can't argue with your employer for benefits or working conditions," but that's exactly what people have been doing--via things like OSHA and minimum wage laws. A libertarian might object that this goes beyond "arguing" with your employer, but it would be naive to suppose that workers could "argue" their way into higher paychecks, shorter work weeks, etc. Rather, they've found that the best way to ensure the guarantees they want is via labor laws.

Democrats and other lefties do not wish to "take over" personal decision-making; they do, however, want to prevent the Right from placing undue limitations on it, which is what denying the legitimacy of government programs that address these issues would do. People should be able to choose for themselves; but when they decide that the best way to get what they want is through the state, those on the Right should respect that choice.

For better or worse, the state exists right now. It makes no sense to prohibit the less-privileged from using the state to guarantee certain rights that would otherwise be ignored and violated. Why should the powerless be denied the power of the state to improve their lot?

2/24/2005

Libertarians and the GOP

Apparently a lot of bloggers of the libertarian persuasion are wondering if they have a meaningful role to play in the Republican Party, or if there is instead an impending split between libertarian GOPers--who mostly vote Republican for the tax cuts and de-regulation of business--and so-called "social" or "cultural" conservatives, who are mostly concerned with issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc.

Randy Barnett at The Volokh Conspiracy thinks that libertarians should ditch the Libertarian Party and settle for trying to re-form the GOP in the libertarian mold from the inside. Someone at Sanity in Mad City argues that libertarians who vote for a third party will only be helping elect a liberal Democrat--Nader voters in reverse. Jackie Passey briefly considers joining the Republicans, but decides that she doesn't have it in her to associate with the many homophobes, anti-choicers, and war mongers who inhabit the party.

What's troublesome to me is that libertarians tend to assume that of the two major parties, the Republicans are ideologically closer to them than the Democrats are. I contend that an intellectually honest, morally responsible libertarian--unlike, say, libertarians who write posts entitled "The merits of anti-semitism" or who feast on live puppies--should support the Democratic party over the Republicans.

The reason I specify that this only applies to "morally responsible" libertarians is because there seem to be at least two distinct types of libertarian. One type is genuinely anti-authoritarian; they believe that government taxation ought to be kept to an absolute minimum, but they also believe that governments should not be violating the civil rights of citizens, should not be discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, shouldn't be waging wars of aggression, etc. The folks at Catallarchy seem to exemplify this type.

Another type pays lip service to the anti-authoritarian rhetoric, but when push comes to shove, seem to be more concerned about lowering their tax rate than ensuring civil liberties. These types, who put their own economic interests above any moral concerns about discrimination or war, are not, in my opinion, deserving of our respect.

While the GOP is clearly the proper home of the latter breed of libertarian, the Democratic Party seems more suited to the former type. If one's libertarianism is genuinely motivated by a belief that the exercise of state power is an inherently bad thing, the GOP is the last place you should call home. The Republicans are truly becoming the party of quasi-fascism, promoting an ideology of unquestioning obedience to the state. The Patriot Act alone should be enough to convince any genuine libertarian to run screaming from the party of George W. Bush.

Not to mention the GOP's committment to ending women's reproductive rights, using the American military machine in the service of corporate interests no matter how many lives it costs, prosecuting the war on drugs, and generally eroding any freedoms that the American people have managed to claim over the last 200 or so years.

The only significant point of agreement between libertarians and Republicans as far as I can see is taxes. (It is possible that another point is the de-regulation of big business, but this is similar insomuch as the underlying concern is a preference for laissez-faire capitalism.) But for Christ's sake, is your tax rate so important that you are willing to trade lower taxes for all the aforementioned atrocities that the GOP is intent on bringing about?? Is having slightly more money in your bank account worth the suffering of so many??

The answer, for any reasonable and moral libertarian, must be: not a chance in hell. And thus, any reasonable, moral libertarian who has decided to eschew third-party politics and to vote for one of the two major parties must, without question, vote Democratic.

I'm not a libertarian; I view capitalism not as the best means to human flourishing and freedom but rather as a significant obstacle to it. But I don't believe that free-market libertarianism is an unreasonable ideology; I myself once identified with it. So I realize that many, perhaps most, libertarians are good, intelligent people who wish to make the world a better place.

That is why they cannot, in good conscience, support the Republican Party.

They mean it

More evidence, via Atrios, that, contrary to the claims of some on the Left, the agenda of the Religious Right is being enacted as we speak:

WICHITA, Kan. The attorney general of Kansas wants to know the detailed history of the sex lives of nearly 90 women who received late-term abortions.

Court documents show that Phill Kline wants to search the documents for evidence of crimes under laws that limit late-term abortions and require mandatory reporting of suspected child sexual abuse.

Under the order signed by a judge, the attorney general would get records that would include each patient's name, medical history, details of her sex life, birth control practices and psychological profile.

The Wichita Eagle says two medical clinics have asked the Kansas Supreme Court to intercede.


2/23/2005

M.C. Dadahead

Josh Levin at Slate thinks that there is more of a similarity between rappers and bloggers than meets the eye:

What, you ask, could those champagne-swilling, "bitch"-shouting rappers have in common with those Jolt-pounding, "read the whole thing"-writing bloggers?

For starters, both groups share a love of loose-fitting, pajama-style apparel. Still not satisfied? Bloggers and rappers are equally obsessed with social networking. Every rapper rolls with his entourage; every blogger rolls with his blog roll. Women can't win an audience in either profession without raunching it up like Lil' Kim or Wonkette.

And don't forget those silly, silly names ... the "blogger or rapper?" parlor game can stump even the nerdiest gangsta. Does uggabugga hate on wack emcees or wack Charles Krauthammer? What about Mad Kane? Big Noyd, Justus League, Uppity Negro, Little Brother, Cold Fury, and South Knox Bubba? (Answers: blogger, blogger, rapper, rap group, blogger, rap group, blogger, blogger.)

Essentially, blogging is sampling plus a new riff. Political bloggers take a story in the news, rip out a few chunks, and type out a few comments. Rap songs use the same recipe: Dig through a crate of records, slice out a high hat and a bass line, and lay a new vocal track on top ... in newspaper writing and rock music, the end goal is the appearance of originality—to make the product look seamless by hiding your many small thefts. For rappers and bloggers, each theft is worth celebrating, another loose item to slap onto the collage.

Rap music and blogging are populist, low-cost-of-entry communication forms that reward self-obsessed types who love writing in first person. Maybe that's why both won so many converts so quickly. If you want to become MC I'm Good at Rapping, all you have to do is rustle up a microphone and a sampler. If you want to blog as AngryVeganCatholicGOPMom, bring a computer, an Internet connection, a working knowledge of Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V, and a whole lot of spare time.

...

But rappers' and bloggers' self-importance also has something to do with the supremely annoying righteousness that rides along with those who believe they're overturned the archaic forms of expression favored by The Man—that is, whitey and/or the mainstream media. Ninety percent of rap lyrics are self-congratulatory rhymes about how great the rapper is at rapping, the towering difficulties of succeeding in the rap game, or the lameness of wanksta rivals. Blogging is a circle jerk that never stops circling: links to posts by other bloggers, following links to newspaper stories about bloggers, following wonderment at the corruptions and complacency of old-fashioned, credentialed journalism.

...

Rappers can afford to be more conspicuous with their triumphalism because selling millions of records is more financially rewarding than getting millions of hits. But if that blog ad gravy train ever comes in, I guarantee you that Josh Marshall will pick up his mail in a gold-plated tank and Nick Denton will put a hit on any linkmonger who looks at him cross-eyed.



"A circle jerk that never stops circling"; that's fucking poetry, man.


BTW, speaking of rap, I hear that DJ Dangermouse's "Grey Album," a mash-up of The Beatles' "White Album" and Jay-Z's "Black Album" (get it?) is exceedingly phat. It is also exceedingly infringing upon some copyrights, so you can't buy it at Best Buy or Amazon, but you can download it for free here.

I don't know what's worse

The fact that only 60% of the American public thinks the country is "ready" for a female president, or the fact that this is being reported as a surprisingly large number.


The presidential election is a little less than four years out. But the possibility of a woman candidate is generating quiet a buzz.

A new poll shows that America may be ready for a woman president. Some say it's about time because America is behind other countries when it comes to women leaders.

More than six in 10 voters say they believe the United States is ready for a female president, a poll found.

"There's definitely a chance a woman president is possible," college student Nathaniel Jenkins said.

... In a nationwide Siena College poll, 53 percent of Americans say Sen. Hillary Clinton should run, while 42 percent want Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to run. They also mentioned senators Elizabeth Dole and Barbara Boxer as possible candidates for the White House.


Well, at least there's definitely a chance that it's possible.

What is wrong with Kansas, anyway?

I often hear the claim being made that the GOP will never actually overturn Roe v. Wade or pass an anti-gay marriage amendment, because these "values" issues are their goose that lays golden eggs; the minute the "culturally conservative" voters get what they want, the Republicans can no longer use abortion, homosexuality, etc. as "wedge issues," and these voters--mostly rural and not all that well-off--might go back to casting ballots based on their economic interests--in other words, they might vote Democratic. Since the GOP can't allow this to happen, they will never actually deliver on their promises to these people, but rather just keep stringing them along, so they can continue to inflame them.

I think this is a very, very dangerous way of thinking. It is quite risky to assume that the Republicans don't mean exactly what they say about abortion, gay rights, and the rest. The best strategy is for us to assume that they have every intention of enacting the agenda of the Religious Right.

Gary Ashwill at Facing South, in a post on Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter with Kansas?, makes a similar point.


The central idea of ... What’s the Matter with Kansas? is that the modern right wing is powered by a contradiction: the grassroots, the ground troops of the movement, are recruited on the basis of a culture war against liberalism; but the politicians they put in power are concerned first and foremost to implement a right-wing economic agenda. A cultural “phony war” ensues, year after year, over abortion, gay marriage, school prayer, evolution…but, with few exceptions, little changes on these fronts. The myth of an all-powerful liberalism that always frustrates “real” Americans fuels constant outrage, a self-sustaining rebellion that keeps the troops (and their opponents) busy while the real business of undoing the New Deal, cutting taxes, and gutting regulations can go on largely unhindered. A "fake" culture war underwrites the "real" economic one.

...

The trouble with Frank’s argument is, you really can't fake this sort of thing, not in the long run. Passions are inflamed, and eventually the grassroots will demand their due. Frank assumes that, on the whole, progress is never made on the cultural front; that’s the perpetual-motion machine that powers hard-right politics. But it’s important to keep in mind that, in fact, conservatives have made, and continue to make, important gains on cultural issues.

Take abortion rights, one of Frank’s main culture-war examples. Conservative activists haven’t yet succeeded in overturning Roe v Wade (though they are closer now than ever) – but they have steadily, incrementally chipped away at women’s right to choose, state by state, while beginning to demand a bolder stance from their leaders.


Gary is right: Republicans have been making "progress" on these issues, and there is no reason to suppose that they're going to stop any time soon. Yes, overturning Roe v. Wade may lose the GOP its advantage among anti-choice voters--but it may not. Even in a country where Roe is no longer the law of the land, and where there are state or even federal bans on abortion, it's very possible that they will still be able to scare people into thinking that the return of legalized abortion is only one Democratic president away. And the same goes for gay marriage, etc.

The GOP has already done this with terrorism. There haven't been any terrorist attacks in the U.S. for three years, but they manage to keep the populace frightened into submission by constantly warning that the next attack could come any time. The Right has never had a problem creating bogeymen.

Plus, even if we agree with Frank's premise that a decisive victory in the culture wars for the Right would mean their electoral doom, that still doesn't entail that they won't actually try to achieve such a win. For one thing, their own evaluation of the situation may differ; they may not believe that overturning Roe, for instance, will hurt them electorally.

And second, politicians do not always act in the long-term interests of their party. If Dubya were faced with a situation where he could score political points, or bail himself out of political trouble, by, say, appointing an anti-choice justice to the Supreme Court, I can't seem him declining to do so on the basis that it might hurt the party 4, 8, or 12 years down the road. As we saw with the invasion of Iraq, these people aren't the best long-term planners.

Another point made by Ashwill is worth noting:

... liberals, having abandoned economic populism and severed important connections to their natural constituency in the working class, have nowhere left to fight but on cultural grounds.

In a way, this is the most important lesson that the Democrats need to learn. They have allowed the phenomenon that Frank describes to take place, by abandoning the working class and the poor in favor of a Republicanesque corporate agenda. People wonder why the "red-staters" continue to vote against their own economic interests, but the answer is simple: they have learned not to expect either party to look out for them economically. They have given up on that expectation entirely. They no longer vote on economic issues because they're convinced that doing so would be useless, and they're not entirely wrong.

Faced with a situation where no one's offering to help them economically, they give up on that hope and vote based on more trivial issues like gay marriage.

So while it's the Republicans who are exploiting this situation, it's the Democrats who let the situation come about. And now, with the GOP in control of all three branches, it's hard to see how the Dems can even begin to try to restore their image as advocates for the not-so-privileged classes.

I suck

And so do all my fellow lefty bloggers, according to the scourge, who asks the rhetorical question: "Why do lefty blogs suck so hard?"


Left-leaning political blogs suck, big time. They’re shrill, they’re mostly indistinguishable, and you can scan a few headlines over your morning cup of coffee and forecast the sources of the day’s liberal blog outrage with near-perfect accuracy. Although there are some standouts, like Joshua Micah Marshall’s sober and concise Talking Points Memo, the average liberal blog is a poorly-worded, hastily thought-out mess. The outrage is unfocused. Nuance and subtlety flap over too-hot heads like pigeons.

...


The answer is simple: Lefty blogging got played out. Liberal blogs are sucking for the same reason their rhetoric sounds so stale. The leftern route to blogfame — outrage, predicting wars, ‘let’s get organized,’ vanilla Bush-bashing — has been trammeled and re-trammeled again and again, and now it’s paved, lit, and dotted along the way by Starbucks and McDonalds. Conservative blogs are still blazing their trail. The trademark dry n’ dismissive style you’ll find on Instapundit, Oxblog, Captain’s Quarters, Michelle Malkin and others hasn’t yet become tiresome to jaded eyes, although it will. The Liberal Outrage blogstyle, on the other hand, has been a painful cliche for a while now.



Yes, outrage is so passé. Unless, I suppose, it's directed at sixth-graders who write mean letters to our poor little soldiers in Iraq, in which case we should drop a daisycutter on the school and "ship their Allah-loving little asses back to Syria or wherever they came from."

Or unless some obscure professor makes some offensive comments. Or the Democrats jeer President Bush at the State of the Union. Etc. etc., ad nauseum.

But come on, getting all worked up for a silly little thing like war??? So a few hundred thousand innocents die. They're not Americans, for Chrissake. And anyway, it's not like the president was getting his dick sucked in the oval office.

Thank god we lefties have the right-wing bloggers looking out for us. They always have so much good advice. Maybe if we do what they say, one day we can be just like them.


(Hat tip to the Daou Report.)

2/22/2005

Happy thoughts

It occurred to me that the tone of this here blog is almost entirely quite negative. In an effort to remedy this, I have posted cute pictures of animals.



















More on Keith Burgess-Jackson (last time, I swear)

This was just too good to pass up.

In the last post, I quoted KBJ as saying:

I also had a problem with someone I kicked off The Ethics of War blog many months ago. Evidently, he still resents this, because he attacked me personally in the comments section of The Conservative Philosopher. I finally banished him from the site.


This prompted David from E.G. to ask:


Does anyone know who the student from the "third-rate university" is? Does he have his own blog?


This got me wondering myself, so I did a little searching. I found out that the student-blogger who KBJ had kicked off the ethics of war blog was someone by the name of Len Carrier. As far as I can tell, he does not have a blog, and I was also unable to find out what "third-rate university" he was a student at. (Note: Please see Update #2 below.)

But that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing because I read KBJ's post from the Ethics of War blog where he explains why he gave Len the boot, and, lo and behold, it provides more evidence of Keith's lunacy.

He starts off in an eerily similar fashion to his TCP hissy fit:

Some of you may have noticed that I shut down the comments function on this blog yesterday. Then I removed my cobloggers, Len Carrier and Matthew Mullins, which makes it a solo blog again. Matthew hadn’t contributed much, and Len, well, I’m going to follow someone’s good advice to not say anything at all if I can’t say anything good. Matthew already has a blog. If Len wants a blog, he now knows how to create one. There is plenty of room in the blogosphere.


Note the familiar "my way or the highway" logic. But why shut down comments?

What bothered me about the comments function was the profusion of anonymous posts. I don’t understand this. If you want to say something, identify yourself. Don’t take potshots from the shadows or from the safety of the crowd.


Fair enough, I guess. But then Keith goes on a bizarre rant:

Another commenter protested that he’s not tenured. He’s afraid that he will leave a footprint in cyberspace that may be used against him in hiring or promotion by unscrupulous professors. This is sheer cowardice. Maybe I’m reckless, but nothing I have ever said or published was done out of calculation for my career. I wrote what I wanted, consequences be damned. ... Someone else would say I’m stubborn, rash, or stupid. I say I’m principled and brave. I’m proud of myself. I’m a man, not a mouse.
This business about the comments got me to thinking about bravery. I’m sorry to say it, but academics are among the most cowardly and obsequious people I have ever met. Graduate students in particular seem to have no intellectual independence. ... Stand up for what you believe in! Stop being a toady! Do you have no self-respect? Is your academic career more important than your integrity?


Clearly, Keith is rather impressed with himself, and seems to be quite determined to make sure graduate students and others without "J.D., Ph.D." behind their names know their proper place.

It actually gets worse:

there is almost nothing I hate more than cowardice. If you have a view of the war, for example, state it and defend it publicly. Don’t state and defend it only in safe contexts, where you know your interlocutors will agree with you. State it everywhere: at work, in church, at the ballpark, while riding your bike, on your blog, and, most importantly, at the dinner table (where critical thinkers are nourished).


Talk about pot calling the kettle black! This from a "man" who pulled the comments of his blog because people were disagreeing with him too much!

I saved the worst for last:

We bloggers—at least those of us who blog openly—are brave souls. Every day, we risk error and embarrassment by stating our views, constructing arguments, offering criticism of other people’s arguments, and commenting on public affairs. I have acquaintances who blog anonymously. I wish they’d come out. You’ll feel good about yourself; I guarantee it.


GAG ME WITH A FUCKING SPOON.

Oh, sorry. I mean:

Wow, Keith, you're such a brave soul; thank god we have big strong manly men like you to protect us by talking tough to Korean peasants half a globe away!

What a fucking tool.

(BTW, Len Carrier, if you're out there, we'd love to hear your side of all this.)


UPDATE: KBJ's other co-blogger on the Ethics of War, Matthew Mullins, offers his perspective on the whole situation:

Please notice that Keith's other group blog attempt Animal Ethics had an additional three contributors at one point. Ever wonder what happened to Mylan Engel Jr, Angus Taylor, and Nathan Nobis.

I would also like to point out that when Keith invited me to contribute at "The Ethics of War" he was not concerned that I was attending a "third-rate University." Keith never made any complaint about the quality of my posts, or my knowledge of just war theory and ethics in general. Keith never gave any guidelines as to how often we should post, and he gave us no warning before he pulled the plug. As for Keith's comments on charity and professionalism... Tu Quoque.


UPDATE #2: Matthew further clarifies the situation:

I was the student. Leonard Carrier is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy the University of Miami. He actually treated Len worse than me on the Ethics of War blog.

Keith Burgess-Jackson is not mentally stable

Blogger fight!!

In this corner, we have Keith Burgess-Jackson, of Anal Philosopher and Conservative Philosopher fame.

And in this corner, we have Max Goss, who blogs at In Hoc Signo Vinces, and who until recently was a contributor to KBJ's Conservative Philosopher blog.

Apparently the seeds of this feud were sown when KBJ posted this reprehensible comment:

President Bush should make it clear to the North Koreans that if they attack the United States, their people, their culture, and their land will be incinerated. It will be as if they never existed.

To which Max responded:

Somehow I don't think Keith is sensitive to Just War Theory's requirement of proportionality or its emphasis on the distinction between aggressors and innocents, not to mention conservatism's worries about unintended consequences.

Then, all was quiet, for a while.

Until KBJ threw a hissy fit and removed both the comments and the trackback feature from the Conservative Philosopher blog, saying:

Our grand experiment with comments and trackbacks is over. They're gone. The overall quality of comments was poor, and many of them were abusive to boot. Why in the world would I pay good money to make myself into a target? If this decision angers or upsets you, fine. Go elsewhere. The blogosphere, like the American West before 1890, is a wide-open place.

What's more, KBJ did this without first consulting any of his fellow contributors to the site, telling them, essentially, that if they didn't like it, they could leave. Which Max promptly did:


Observant readers have noticed that Keith Burgess-Jackson has eliminated every trace of me from The Conservative Philosopher, to which I was, until this morning, a contributor. I feel like I owe an explanation to my readers from both sites. There is little point in reciting all the details of the pathetic little saga that unfolded. Suffice it to say that I quit this morning, citing, among other things:

* discomfort with being associated with a loose cannon of dubious conservative commitment;

*KBJ's sudden disabling of the blog's comments feature and his deleting of old comments without so much as a warning to readers or contributors;

* KBJ's evident contempt for both me and his readers (the latter was best seen in the now-deleted comments; I expect they will appear in Google's cache in the next day or so, however).


Max also wrote an "open letter" to KBJ which included these remarks:

Dear Keith,

As it so happens, I was already growing increasingly uncomfortable with having my name associated with The Conservative Philosopher. While the concept of the blog is good and its stable of contributors is outstanding, I have been troubled by, among other things, your rudeness to commenters, your dubious conservatism, and your occasional petulant outbursts.

...

I did not seriously consider quitting, however, until I experienced your reaction to an email I sent criticizing your comment about North Korea. Not only did you evince what I considered excessive impatience with my questions, but you also treated me shabbily, suddenly proposing, out of the blue, to enforce your early requirement that contributors to TCP hold a Ph.D. (This despite your having invited me, without my even asking, to join in the first place, even though you knew I was ABD.)

I don’t like to make snap decisions, and so I decided to take the weekend to think over whether I would stay on. On Sunday, however, you made my decision for me when you completely removed the comments feature from the blog, claiming that readers’ comments were "awful," "poor," and sometimes "abusive." ... Your decision was surprising, to say the least, not only because you eliminated what I take to be an essential feature of a blog, but also because you did so without so much as a warning to either readers or contributors. I realize that this was your prerogative, as you never fail to mention, but your exercise of it was, in my opinion, both rash and inconsiderate. It confirmed my impression that you do not care what anyone else thinks, including those who have helped make your blog a success. Please remove my name from the sidebar.


KBJ, however, tells a slightly different story, claiming that Max did not quit but was fired, so to speak. In this post, Keith really shows his true colors:


I had to kick one of the bloggers off the blog. He should never have been on the blog to begin with, since he doesn’t have a Ph.D. or a D.Phil. degree in philosophy. I made a mistake letting him in. As it turned out, he has many problems. From the very beginning, he was telling me how to run the blog. I don’t even know him! He seemed obsessed with me. The other day, for example, I said that if the North Koreans attack us (with nuclear weapons), we should incinerate them. He said I was advocating genocide. Perhaps he didn’t notice the word “if.”

...

Anyway, good riddance. As I say, I should never have let him on the blog.


KBJ then starts ranting about somebody he kicked off of another blog (do I see a pattern emerging?):

I also had a problem with someone I kicked off The Ethics of War blog many months ago. Evidently, he still resents this, because he attacked me personally in the comments section of The Conservative Philosopher. I finally banished him from the site. This young man is only a student of philosophy (at a third-rate university). He has much to learn about charity, professionalism, and civility. I will be very surprised if he gets a tenure-track job in philosophy.


Classy. Keith finishes up:

All in all, the comments were a bad experience. I have told my fellow bloggers that if they don’t like my decision to disable the comments, they are free to leave the blog. ... Now I know why most serious bloggers don’t allow comments. They’re far more trouble than they’re worth. Live and learn.


This is rich. First of all, KBJ says that the other bloggers are "free to leave the blog," as if that were somehow his decision--what, Keith, did you really have the option to force them to stay? Or is this just another way of saying, "It's my blog!! Mine!!"? As one of Max's readers commented, "I suspect that Keith was the kid who took the bat home when the game did not go his way."

Second, he seems obsessed with professional rank and status, saying it was a mistake to have somebody on the TCP blog who didn't have their doctorate, and then the comment about the other student being from a "third-rate university." Anybody who's spent any time around academics knows that having a Ph.D. does not make you a better thinker, as Keith--who has both a Ph.D. and a J.D., which he makes sure to put after his name--himself evidences. And as for "third-rate" universities, I don't recall anyone mentioning the University of Texas at Arlington, where KBJ teaches, in the same breath as Princeton and M.I.T. (Max, by the way, is ABD ("all but dissertation," for those not in the know, meaning essentially done but not technically) from the University of Texas at Austin, one of the top philosophy programs in the country.)

Third, KBJ says that "most serious bloggers don't allow comments." Hmm. That would come as a surprise to Atrios, Kos, and Kevin Drum, all of whose blogs are much more highly regarded than either of Keith's.

So anyway, I don't know who's telling the truth here ... well, okay, it's clearly Max, since Keith is clearly a delusional egomaniac. All I know is that it's strangely fascinating to watch someone melt down in such a public way.

Does this scare anyone else?

Via Atrios:

WASHINGTON Feb 21, 2005 — Intent on securing the vulnerable Arizona border from illegal immigrant crossings, U.S. officials are bracing for what they call a potential new threat this spring: the Minutemen. Nearly 500 volunteers have already joined the Minuteman Project, anointing themselves civilian border patrol agents determined to stop the immigration flow that routinely, and easily, seeps past federal authorities.

They plan to patrol a 40-mile stretch of the southeast Arizona border throughout April when the tide of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border peaks.

"I felt the only way to get something done was to do it yourself," said Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant and decorated Vietnam War veteran who is helping recruit Minutemen across the country.

"We've been repeatedly accused of being people who are taking the law into our own hands," said Gilchrist, 56, of Aliso Viejo, Calif. "That is an outright bogus statement. We are going down there to assist law enforcement."


Atrios says

I hope our new "minutemen" - and the appropriate local law enforcement agents - understand that illegal aliens are still people, and laws regarding the prohibition of murder still apply.


Silly Atrios. They may be people, but they're not Americans. Ergo, in Bush's America, they are fair game!


2/21/2005

The vast left-wing conspiracy

Via The Left Coaster via The Daou Report:

Fearless crusader David Horowitz, in addition to saving America from dangerous evils like civil rights, environmentalism, and social justice, has provided us with a definitive list of America-haters who are engaged in a leftist plot to destroy the U.S.

In addition to terrorists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Ramzi Yousef, and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the "Blind Sheik"), and dictators like Fidel Castro, Americans should apparently be on the watch for the following would-be destroyers of everything that is holy and pure:

Al Sharpton
Barack Obama
Barbra Streisand
Bruce Springsteen
Martin Sheen
Phil Donahue
Roger Ebert
Vanessa Redgrave
Jay Leno
Mike Farrell*

and many, many others.

Also, anti-Americans are apparently so devious that some of them have the ability to undermine FreedomTM from beyond the grave, given the inclusion on Horowitz's list of Yasser Arafat, Mohammed Atta, Ayatollah Khomeini, and, perhaps the most dangerous of all, Rachel Corrie.

Thank God someone is looking out for us.



* You know, the guy from M.A.S.H.

More racism on the right

This time it's a gem of a post from blogger Kim du Toit. In what has to be one of the sickest and most reprehensible blog posts I've ever read, Kim takes note of the fact that Iranians are preparing for a possible guerilla war in the case of an American invasion--or, as Kim puts it:

another group of radical Islamist ragheads are getting nervous


"Ragheads." Nice. And how does Kim believe the US should respond to this possibility of "asymmetric warefare"?

Considering that I’m busy grieving for a friend killed in just such an “asymmetric warfare” encounter, I’d like the United States to consider conducting a slightly differnent kind of asymmetric warfare. While these asswipes are laying in hidden caches of weapons and supplies of, say, car bombs, here’s the kind of “asymmetric” tactics I’d like to see from our end, if it comes to war with Iran:


And then he displays a gigantic picture of a mushroom cloud, ending his post with the words

Enough fucking around. Let’s end this bullshit.


The lives of the "ragheads" are apparently so expendable to Kim the U.S. should launch an unprovoked nuclear war against Iran. A similar sentiment was expressed by The Anal Philosopher a few days ago with regard to North Korea:

President Bush should make it clear to the North Koreans that if they attack the United States, their people, their culture, and their land will be incinerated. It will be as if they never existed.


Which caused even conservative blogger Max Goss to question Keith's understanding of

Just War Theory's requirement of proportionality or its emphasis on the distinction between aggressors and innocents, not to mention conservatism's worries about unintended consequences.


Which was basically a polite way of saying, are you out of your fucking mind??? Are the lives of foreigners really so worthless in the eyes of some right-wingers? Is it really worth the death of millions of Koreans or Iranians so you can feel like a big man, Keith and Kim?

This kind of rhetoric is absolutely unacceptable. It should not be allowed to become part of the mainstream discourse concerning issues of war and peace. The sentiments expressed in these posts should not be seen as simply a different opinion, but rather as what they are: expressions of racism and contempt for humanity. (Keith, as a philosopher you ought to know better. Remember "act so that you use humanity in your own person, as well as in others, always at the same time as and end in itself and never as a means only," you asshole?)

I have no idea how to account for this unabashed hatred and bloodlust. What gives, boys? Your dicks cannot be that small. There has to be something else.

Otherwise, stop acting like a fucking twelve-year-old with a chip on his shoulder. Real people's lives are stake when the Bush administration makes its military decisions. Not the "enemy"; not a bunch of "ragheads"; real fucking people whose lives matter, and who don't deserve to be the target of such sickening and deranged rhetoric.

You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

Who's afraid of reader comments?

Here's something I never did get. Many bloggers seem to have a problem with the idea of allowing people to comment on their post. For instance, Keith Burgess-Jackson has decided to pull the commenting feature (as well as trackback) from The Conservative Philosopher blog:

Our grand experiment with comments and trackbacks is over. They're gone. The overall quality of comments was poor, and many of them were abusive to boot. Why in the world would I pay good money to make myself into a target? If this decision angers or upsets you, fine. Go elsewhere. The blogosphere, like the American West before 1890, is a wide-open place.


But Keith is hardly the only one who has this negative view of comments on blogs. Most famously, Billmon pulled the plug on his comments section in a sad post last summer:

over the past few months I've noticed a definite deterioration in the quality of the conversation here at the bar. Trolls I can usually give the bum's rush pretty quickly - at least most of the time. But I'm seeing more and more stuff on the threads that strikes me as marginal at best - people who seem to get their main kick out of insulting or picking fights with the other patrons; people who don't have anything particularly intelligent to say, and aren't very articulate about saying it; people who don't seem to have anything better to do with their time than to cut and paste long passages from mainstream media stories, or the unabridged lyrics of old rock 'n roll songs; people who appear to be mentally unbalanced, and not always in a good way.


What I didn't understand at the time, and what I still don't understand, is why these bloggers care one way or another what goes on in the comments section. I mean, I definitely read comments on my posts when I get them, but if I for some reason didn't like the topics of conversation or whatever, I just wouldn't read them.

But other bloggers seem to feel some sort of responsibility for what goes on in the comments section. They feel the need to monitor them constantly. I don't see why. When you enable the comments on a blog, you basically create a de facto internet forum. What is said on the forum is not reflective of the person who "created" it.

Obviously, it's up to each individual blogger to decide whether to enable the comments feature or not. I just don't get why so many seem to be so tortured over it. But maybe I am just missing something.


UPDATE: Keith's decision to pull comments off the Conservative Philosopher blog has caused at least one of the contributers to disassociate himself from the site (though 'caused' should be understood here in a "straw that broke the camel's back" kind of way, apparently).

2/20/2005

Hunter S. Thompson dead

A suicide.


... "The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it."

--Thompson

(Thanks to Old Hat.)

Give it up loser

The wingnutters are still in a tizzy over Howard Dean's "racist" comments. In case you missed it, the new DNC Chairman made his outrageous remarks at a meeting with African-American Democrats in Washington the other day:

He surveys the crowd of 150 crammed into the room. "You think the RNC could get this many people of color into a single room?" he marvels. "Maybe if they got the hotel staff in there."


Straight out of Mein Kampf, huh?

Maybe not.

Regardless, the aptly named Baldilocks asks, "Where's the outrage?":


Does he mean that Republicans would only invite the black hotel workers into their midst, rather that the hundreds of thousands of black physicians, lawyers, PhDs, engineers, executives, journalists, etc.?

Or does he mean that most blacks *are* hotel workers or equivalent--and honorably-employed--blue-collar types, rather than (formally) well-educated sorts?

Or does he mean that Republicans would only invite those blacks who were handy at the sort of place in which political gatherings are held (in this case, the Hilton Washington) and would “forget” to invite those who are *deemed* to be “smarter”? Does he think hotel workers aren’t intelligent and are “dumb’ enough to be “lured” into a Republican gathering merely because of simple proximity? (Believe me, many of the most intelligent people out there are among the ranks of blue-collar workers.)


No, stupid, he means that the Republicans are the party of white racists, and therefore unlikely to attract a large contingent of minorities. He means that the only black people you would probably find at a GOP meeting would be the staff.

That's not racism; that's the truth -- albeit it exaggerated, which is appropriate, because it was a fucking joke.

One of the GOP's main tendencies is projecting their own sicknesses onto others. Thus they accuse Democrats of racism, Leftists of moral relativism, and the anti-war movement of fascism.

In case there's any doubt about just which party is the home of racism, one only has to look at the many ties between Republican party leaders and white supremacist groups.

For instance: Trent Lott, who Baldilocks at least has the sense to mention:

Why is newly-minted Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean being let off the hook for this extremely suspect statement?

Does the name Trent Lott ring a bell? Bloggers ran him away from the Senate Majority Leader position (so I’m told; this was a bit before I started following blogs). At least Senator Lott apologized.


Here's the difference. Let's suppose that there is something wrong with what Dean said; let's say it is somehow offensive to minorities. Still, this would pale in comparison to what has come out of the mouths of Republicans and their supporters. Remember what Lott said about Strom Thurmond:

I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.


Thurmond ran for president in 1948 (!) as a "Dixiecrat" on a platform that included this gem:

We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.


Thurmond also declared:

All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches.

Lott lamely apologized:

A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement.


Right. Note the words he "poorly" chose: We're proud of it ... if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either. "All these problems" presumably refers to the the "problem" that was the civil rights movement.

Lest it be thought that this was a one-time thing, note that Lott has ties with a prominent "white nationalist" organization, the Council of Conservative Citizens, which decries the "mongrelization of the races" and pines for the days "when the Klan could 'march on Washington' to the cheers of an adoring public, when race-mixing and homosexuality were taboo, when racial separation was the norm". But they're not racist! No sir--because they deny the very meaningfulness of the term racism:

The word racism was concocted by a communist ideologue in the 1920's. The purpose of racism was to instill guilt and shame in the minds of white people and to inflame racial hostility among blacks. This word play succeeded beyond all expectations. Of course, the word racism has no meaning unless whites react to it. Because racism defines nothing, but instead generates dubious connotations, the C of CC refuses to be held hostage by what the word implies at any given moment. It is normal for white people to be proud of their race and heritage. Is that racist?


Yes, yes it is.

And yes, I'm aware that Robert Byrd used to be in the KKK. This hardly changes the fact that the GOP continues to this day to appeal to racism -- or rather, white people's "pride" in their "race and heritage" -- in order to win elections, the presence of Condi Rice and a few other props notwithstanding.

So even if what Dean said was offensive, his crime is a misdemeanor compared to that of Lott. For there is no doubt that Dean's intention behind the remark was not racist; indeed, he said what he did in order to satirize the racism of the Republican Party. The same cannot be said of Lott, however, who spoke in front of the CCC, saying:

the people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in the right direction and our children will be the beneficiaries.


That is racism, Baldilocks. Not a thoughtless remark; not a momentary gaffe. This is deeply believed, reflected-upon hatred for other races. That's why nobody gives Democrats shit when they say something that might be perceived as racially insensitive: because they have clearly and loudly denounced the ugly aspect of U.S. history that is racism. Until and unless the GOPers do the same, they can expect us to suspect the worst when they say something they shouldn't, and they can expect us to hold their feet to the fire every single time.

Ditching Haloscan

I originally decided to use Haloscan because of the trackback feature, which Blogger doesn't offer. But as Neil the Werewolf pointed out, the character limit on comments that is imposed by Haloscan is ridiculous.

What I cannot figure out, though, is how to do this. That is, I can't figure out how to both ditch Haloscan but also replace it with the Blogger commenting system. I've tried just removing the Haloscan code, which works, but then my posts have no commenting at all.

Any help would be much appreciated.


UPDATE: Okay, I think I've got it basically sorted out now. I'm still working out a few bugs but it would appear the Blogger commenting is now working.


... that should just about do it. I've manually saved most of the old haloscan comments, so if anyone for any reason wants to see them, let me know. Other than that, everything should be A-OK, assuming the new Blogger commenting system works okay.

HaloScan comments for this post here.

This is evil

Via Alas, a Blog:

A judge hearing child abuse and neglect cases in Tennessee has given an unusual instruction to some immigrant mothers who have come before him: Learn English, or else.

Most recently, it was an 18-year-old woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, who had been reported to the Department of Children’s Services for failing to immunize her toddler and show up for appointments. At a hearing last month to monitor the mother’s custody of the child, Wilson County Judge Barry Tatum instructed the woman to learn English and to use birth control, the Lebanon Democrat newspaper reported.

Last October, Tatum gave a similar order to a Mexican woman who had been cited for neglect of her 11-year-old daughter, said a lawyer who is representing the woman in her appeal. Setting a court date six months away, the judge told the woman she should be able to speak English at a fourth-grade level by that meeting. If she failed, he warned, he would begin the process of termination of parental rights.


This should be grounds for impeachment, or whatever they do to judges in Tennessee. However, given that it is Tennessee, he'll probably get a medal.

Global Warming

Once again, facts seem to be conspiring against the Bush administration:

Scientists have found the first unequivocal link between man-made greenhouse gases and a dramatic heating of the Earth's oceans.

The researchers - many funded by the US government - have seen what they describe as a "stunning" correlation between a rise in ocean temperature over the past 40 years and pollution of the atmosphere.

The study destroys a central argument of global warming sceptics within the Bush administration - that climate change could be a natural phenomenon. It should convince US president George Bush to drop his objections to the Kyoto treaty on climate change, the scientists say.

Tim Barnett, a marine physicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said: "We've got a serious problem. The debate is no longer: 'Is there a global warming signal?' The debate now is: 'What are we going to do about it?'"

He told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington: "We defined a 'fingerprint' of ocean warming. Each of the oceans warmed differently at different depths and constitutes a fingerprint which you can look for. We had several computer simulations, for instance one for natural variability: could the climate system just do this on its own? The answer was no.

"We looked at the possibility that solar changes or volcanic effects could have caused the warming - not a chance. What just absolutely nailed it was greenhouse warming."


This is probably getting annoying by now, but: Why does science hate America?

Blogarama - The Blog Directory Sanity is not statistical.