John Kerry's testimony before the Senate in 1971, when he was 27, is online (begins at ~5:06). Right-wing talking points seem to be that he slanders his fellow soldiers and shows sympathy for Communism. Well...
Remember when the Clinton-haters were drooling about the fatal blow that would be delivered by the broadcast of Clinton's deposition by Starr? Remember how Clinton's approval ratings shot up after it was broadcast? So, let them play this, let them point everyone to it. Kerry is a commanding presence here, and he'll win more converts with this speech than he's won by any other means.
I wonder though, if anyone has considered that John Kerry couldn't possibly top this. It's hard to imagine being in a better position at 27--in fact, if you listen, and consider what you'd expect from someone this young, so sure and in command--even becoming President, with the political hatred that entails, is a disappointing result. I wonder how much Kerry is aware of this, and how much it accounts both for his grandiloquence and strange lifelessness.
My god, Fontana is putting us to shame. I'm enjoying time off from blogging, but will pop in occasionally.
Just got this in an email.
They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart people; it's worked for over 200 years; and hey, we're not using it anymore.
I'm away for the weekend [thank god-- we thought he'd never leave] so expect not so much content, and I don't mean in the normal sense of 'vapid' or 'blogoretta,' but in the sense of no posting. Unless, of course, the people who nominally run this place post something.
Does it seem like we're in the midst of some spontaneous gay revolution? Check out the photo that goes with the story-- you know, the one I don't know how to post yet. If you're going to protest gay marriage, don't have a [redacted] name like "Jason Storms."
Someone tell me how to feel about this: on one hand, it'd be great if gay couples had access to (at least) the legal goodies that come with marriage; on the other, if it costs Kedwards the election, this moment, however good it feels (and let's be honest, it feels pretty fanfuckingtastic to see this; it's like the first spring day of the soul) won't be worth the cost. I know, I know, it's never the right time, but I suspect there are a lot of people getting really, really steamed up about same-sex marriage, and not in a Mr. Garrison/Brett Favre-in-the-sauna kind of way. And that makes me scared inside, because I am the dysfunctional enabler of the blogosphere.
Oh, what? There's not a rule that every post's title has to have a double meaning? My bad.
Bill Pryor's going to be on the 11th circuit court of appeals thanks to a recess appointment.
I don't have much to say about this, but maybe someone with more energy to track these things will note just which Republican lawmakers applaud this move after getting bent out of shape over the Hormel ambassadorship. An amusing argument to the effect that, in the Hormel case, Clinton damaged the constitution by using it is here.
Naomi Wolf alleges sexual harassment-- against Harold Bloom.
If you thought that Bloom...[was too fat to find] his own penis, relax: this all happened twenty years ago.
Banderlog has more. But my title is funnier.
I have to say I'm sort of on Mel Gibson's side on the whole movie issue. Because I hate Jews. No, that's not it.
I mean, I tend to blame the book, you know? And it shouldn't shock anyone that someone who's really into the book is going to believe some of the kooky things in the book. So this reminds me of the Strom Thurmond thing, which demonstrated that it's ok to endorse Thurmond's appalling record as long as you don't go into detail about just what it is you're endorsing.
But then I read this interview with Hutton Gibson, who, apparently, is just back from a long trip to Argentina, though still on his long journey away from Planet Look At the Goddamned Historical Record. Which makes me a little more queasy about the whole thing.
As the guy from the ADL said, it would be funny, if it weren't so sad.
UPDATE: now I feel a little bad for Mel, in a way, because his old and possibly demented father goes and gets dragged into the limelight, thus putting him in a dilemma: come off like a holocaust denier, or disavow your father in public. What a softie I am.
A painting of Mel B, ex-spice, ex-career, is up for auction.
The two-meter-high painting shows divorced husband Jimmy Gulzar pulling up the singer's dress in front of a burning black heart. Gulzar asked his legal team to arrange the sale.
"Clients come up with all sorts of requests in the aftermath of divorce but this is one of the most unusual we have received," Gulzar's solicitor Margaret Bennett said.
"It's got to be one of the most unusual and intimate pieces of pop memorabilia ever to go on sale."
Painted in screaming red, yellow and black, the picture used to hang in the couple's bedroom and went to Gulzar after the post-separation carve up of their property.
Sad to say, this kind of reminds me of that scene in Dolemite II: Human Tornado where Rudy Ray Moore convinces a woman to have intercourse with him by showing her a velvet painting of some hot miscegenation action. Then, of course, the intense carnality of the ensuing madness disrupts the California power grid. Intrigued? I knew you would be. But I recommend "Avenging Disco Godfather" instead. Put your weight on it!
This story about the Scalia non-recusal is pretty sweet.
"It did not involve a lawsuit against Dick Cheney as a private individual," Scalia said in response to a question from the audience of about 600 people. "This was a government issue."
Moral explanations hit home: "[t]hen the economy got affected because some of our citizens forgot to tell the truth" says the President.
And that death tax. You know, the one that always takes away family farms, except when it doesn't?
Guy Donaldson is with us. He's got an interesting story. He is a fruit orchard man out of Pennsylvania. Apples, cherries, and peaches. (Laughter.) I was lobbying for some of them to be sent over here for breakfast. (Laughter.) See, he is -- he, by the way, is a partnership, so his entity is taxed at the individual income tax rate level. But he's more concerned about the death tax. His dream is to keep this farm in his family. It's been in his family now for the fourth generation. That's part of his dream. That's what he has decided that he would like to do with his assets. And he wants to leave the orchard to his kids.
Does it ever stop? Will Scott McClellan ever retire a lie and hang its jersey from the ceiling?
Does anyone else have the sinking feeling that we're just voting for Kerry because we think other people will like him? And that we're bad judges of others' future preferences? So that, in fact, the stuff we find creepy, but never talk about in public, because it's a little family secret, like the forehead thing and the hair thing and the reputation for basically being Gumby will in fact turn off other voters too, and we'll end up completely screwed in the fall? That's my sinking feeling. Edwards? I'm thinkin' maybe.
Wait, I've got it! Lord Voldemort.
In other news:
And I missed my chance to hear "Mr Crowley" live. Crap.
...but I like it. The argument of his post on dirty hands seems to go like this:
The phenomenon to be saved is that some actions bring about (morally) praiseworthy ends through (morally) awful means; we need to preserve both the positive and negative evaluations. It's 'doing the right thing by doing the wrong thing.'
(a) Utilitarianism can't make sense of this, because the good results count in favor of the action's rightness. So the act isn't wrong after all: it's simply of a kind that's usually wrong. In the comments below I made a lame consequentialist rejoinder: appeal to the utility of certain squeamish reactions to preserve the negative assessment. Here's another possibility: contra Bentham, there are incommensurable values. (Walter Sinnot-Armstrong mentions this here.) This won't work, because, though it preserves some indeterminacy, the dirty hands problem can be generated with a particular sort of value (killing n to save n+m lives, say) and while it's plausible enough to think that there's no fine-grained comparison between quantities of pleasure and knowledge, it's less plausible to say that, for example, different quantities of the same value cannot be weighed against one another.
(b) deontological ethics, similarly, cannot save the day, because it too identifies a single right action thus denying the mystery instead of solving it.
(c) probably the crude neo-Aristotelian I carry around in my head for straw purposes can't save it either; the phronimos acts or not, and (presumably) doesn't feel bad about it either way.
Holbo concludes that what's going on is some kind of tension between judgments about rightness of actions and judgments about "cleanliness of souls." Now, this seems right, as far as it goes (the paradox of deterrence shows, maybe, that right action sometimes requires giving up good character), but we have to be careful in what we say about character evaluation. If, for example, the hands-dirtying action is genuinely right, it's hard to see why we'd judge someone less-than-virtuous for doing it. (In the deterrence case, the opprobrium directed at me is not for the 'action' [as if!] of adopting the intention, but for the state of character that results.)
My suspicion, like Matt's, is that the appearance of a problem is generated from a tension between our common intuitions (and ingrained emotional responses) and our theoretical commitments. Example: Leon Kass thinks that cloning is wrong because repulsive. One reason this is problematic is that reactions of, say, disgust, are not always taken by the subjects to be morally significant; they may constitute a different sort of evaluation. (See here.) So too our feeling dirty might not indicate a tacit moral evaluation.
Here's another example of this line, from more traditional meta-ethical sources. Allan Gibbard thinks that to call an act wrong is to endorse guilt or anger at its performance. Problem: we sometimes endorse feeling guilt for things that we judge to be permissible, if ugly, e.g., shuffling Mother off to the retirement home because having her live with us is destroying the family. It's the right thing to do, but it warrants guilt nonetheless. The point is that sentiments commonly taken to be moral in flavor are actually tied to a different (orthoganol) sort of evaluative judgment. Maybe. And the conflation of the distinction leads to the appearance of dirty hands.
Does it count if we find Osama in, like, a metaphysical sort of way?
Just for fun, and if you haven't seen it, here's a quick version of a related paradox of deterrence, due (I think!) to the late Gregory Kavka:
Suppose you're the head of state of a global superpower-- the US, let's say. You and your counterpart in the SU have missiles galore aimed at one another. The only thing that will deter your counterpart from launching a first strike is your sincere intention to retaliate with a massive counterstrike. (Your counterpart is an infallible intention-detector; there's no bluffing.) You realize that launching a massive counterstrike would be extraordinarily immoral, because (a) it will kill untold millions of innocent civilians and (b) at the time it's launched, it does absolutely no good whatsoever. Hence you realize that (i) there is compelling moral reason to adopt the intention to launch a counterstrike (because only this intention will prevent the SU first strike) yet (ii) to adopt this intention is to be committed to a horribly immoral action (a conditional intention, but an intention nonetheless). And people who have intentions to do wicked things are vicious people. Hence you have moral reason to make yourself wicked.
What's interesting about cases like these, and their close cousin, the toxin puzzle, is their reliance on what might be called two sorts of reasons for having an attitude (intention, belief, etc.)-- e.g., reasons to think that the content of the belief is true, and reasons to think that the belief is valuable to have.
Thank you, mr know-it-all!
I've been pressed into service as a guest blogger while Ogged is working through some issues. Look, I know it's a poor substitute, people, but we have to do the best we can.