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And Your Lawyer Too

Posted by Ogged
on 03.06.04
The battle over 527s (and a brilliant MoveOn ad) continues. The Republican National Committee would dearly love to keep MoveOn and other independently funded liberal organizations from having a voice in the current election. They've just sent a letter to about 250 TV stations warning that the stations might be violating the law if they run a MoveOn ad, because, the RNC claims, MoveOn is illegally funded, and the stations risk becoming party to illegal activity. There's a lot more litigation to come in this fight. In the meanwhile, be sure to see the ad, Child's Pay (and the other really good ads on that page).

 

horizontal rule

 

Martha Stewart and the political economy of toilets

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.06.04

The news of Martha Stewart's conviction has brought out the worst in people: the schadenfreude is at high tide. I have nothing to add to the fairly obvious point that this response is out of proportion to the seriousness of her crime and to the amount of harm it caused. And it's plausible enough that some glee in the wheel of fortune's spin is, well, sex-based.

But she's not only a businesswoman; she's one dealing in domesticity. She rubs people the wrong way because she's casting doubt on their ways of keeping house. So it hits, as it were, close to home, and people get defensive thre. This brings to mind an interesting discussion about housekeepers going on, among other places, here at John & Belle. Tim Burke and Crooked Timber have more.

There are a range of positions here. The extreme view, from, not surprisingly, Chun:

If you're healthy, and someone else is cleaning your house, you need to check yourself. I don't care how many kids you have.

Russell Arben Fox puts it the same way, in his comments on the CT post: he thinks that having a housekeeper is bad

because the home should not be a site for a service industry.

The other extreme is a view I'm tempted to take on myself: the 'labor is labor' view:

There's no difference in (interesting) kind between labor in someone else's home and elsewhere; exploitation is possible, perhaps likely, but contingently so.

Now, since a note about personal experience seems to be--irritatingly-- de rigeur, I'll mention that I do not employ, and have not employed, a housekeeper. I don't make enough, and I live alone. But I've house-sat for people who do. In this case, the (independent) housekeeper in question likes her job well enough, makes a fair wage, and is treated well by at least these employers. The employers have more money than time; like me, they spend about six and a half days a week at work. They don't want to spend what's left scrubbing and folding. This seems completely sensible.

So what's wrong with strong negative view? RA Fox's comment baffles me: why shouldn't the home be the site of a service industry? Is it just in the Eternal Verities of the House to deny this? There could, of course, be justifications for this-- the effects on such a situation on home life, for example-- but I suspect that these would pale under scrutiny, much like 'gay people undermine marriage' does. It's tempting to think, in other words, that these sorts of prohibitions, or injunctions to check oneself, are simply discomfort at the broaching of a tradition or custom, or, as Burke self-diagnoses, a phobia of having strangers in personal space.

I'm willing to admit that the other extreme view is too simple, because it overlooks the differences between domestic labor and other sorts. These differences, almost certainly, are a matter of our responses-- we think toilet-cleaning is gross, or shameful, but we needn't-- rather than some inherent awfulness in housework. But our responses and ways of seeing are important, after all. I just think in this case that they're misguided. Ehrenreich wants not to be in "that sort of relationship" with another human being. I wonder if she'd rather be in the "could have employed X under fair conditions but didn't" relation; and I wonder if she forgets that she is in that sort of relation with others, though less saliently so.

Shorter FL: what Burke said.

But all parties agree: we wish Belle good health.


 

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Mama

Posted by Ogged
on 03.05.04

Sometimes technology is nifty, but sometimes it can save your life. Via Gary Farber, give this Google hack a couple of ingredients, it will give you a list of recipes.


 

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MP Mazigh?

Posted by Ogged
on 03.05.04
Does anyone remember Maher Arar? He was the Canadian citizen that the US grabbed at JFK and sent to Syria to be tortured for almost a year. Here's the latest on the Canadian investigation into his detention. But the more interesting news is that his wife is considering a run for parliament.

 

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But I Said the Chimp

Posted by Ogged
on 03.05.04

Know what a 527 is? This is a superb explanation...waiting for you to read the whole thing...but the conclusion claims rather more than the facts.

As Tell explains, soft money used to flow to any organization that wasn't involved in "express advocacy."

It used to be the rule, inferred from a footnote in the Supreme Court's 1976 Buckley decision, that only "express advocacy," the baldest possible kind of direct electioneering activity ("Vote for Bush!"), was regulated. So it used to be the case that there'd be clearly partisan 527 organizations, who were clearly involving themselves in federal elections, clearly spending lots more than $1,000 in the process, and clearly doing so with particular ballot results in mind--but they never spoke the "magic words" of express advocacy, and thus could claim never to have made an "expenditure." Which excused them from registration with the FEC as a "political committee." Which meant they didn't have to abide by the financial restrictions attached to that designation. Which is another way of saying: They could gorge themselves on all the soft money they wanted.

Tell claims that this has all changed under McCain-Feingold.

...it looks like Bush really will be a lock. Unless the Democratic party--and fast--can figure out a way around the no-soft-money boulder that's been placed in its path by the campaign finance reform law.

But here's his own explanation of what's newly proscribed (my emphasis).

All public communications that "promote," "support," "attack," or "oppose" any clearly identified candidate for federal office--say, for example, George W. Bush--whether or not the damn things "expressly advocate" his defeat, and no matter when they're made during the political calendar, must be paid for with hard dollars only.

There's a bit more there, but there's nothing in Tell's piece that demonstrates that we haven't simply exchanged one loophole for another. It wouldn't take much creativity to run anti-Bush ads that don't mention George Bush (or his party). And Tell's piece leaves me with the impression that those ads could be legally funded with soft money. In fact, this issue is still totally up in the air. Here are details.


 

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wwjd?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.04.04

You might have missed this, or you might have seen it so long ago that you've forgotten all about it.

Your practical reasoning failing? Not sure how to handle real-life dilemmas? No, don't write to Randy Cohen. Ask yourself: what would Journey do? Answers here.


 

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shout outs

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.04.04

It's our birthday, and we wants the precious. A recent hanger-on like me can't take any credit for this, but a tip-out to my homies, in particular ogged (shown here in extreme closeup), for their good blogging and for the invitation to sub.

I started reading Unfogged not long after it started, as a result of some philosophical speculations over at Invisible Adjunct-- another year-old blog, and a good one. Thanks for making my rants to would-be graduate-school applicants easier, IA.

Just for fun, some other props to underappreciated blogs:

Mistakes Were Made is fantastic if, like me, you like found objects. It's like Cabaret Voltaire, without the sickening knowledge that the future holds nothing but mediocre dance beats.

I really enjoy The Bandarlog, and not only because one of its authors actually reads this site. A smart ongoing conversation, and you get to listen in-- nice. I get the feeling they're pretty indifferent to whether I care or not, which makes them charmingly like some people I've dated.


 

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Grading

Posted by Ogged
on 03.03.04

A couple of things I should mention. The blog is one year old, as of sometime last week. Thanks again to everyone who reads and comments (and, in Fontana's case, blogs). And, in case you've forgotten, I said that John Kerry was finished and that John Edwards would win the Democratic nomination. I haven't told you yet that if Dennis Kucinich runs as a third-party candidate, the presidency is his for the taking.


 

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A post about mars without a David Bowie reference

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.03.04

This has been well-covered elsewhere, but I feel compelled to note this Long John Silver's press release:

IF NASA FINDS CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF AN OCEAN ON MARS,

AMERICA EATS FREE GIANT SHRIMP

Why?

If there's ocean water on Mars, that would be giant news. And giant news calls for Giant Shrimp!

Oh, it does indeed. I think this offer should be extended to related schemes, e.g. "if we've been led into a middle-eastern quagmire by a dishonest, fiscally imprudent administration, and now we're pretty much completely [in poor condition], well, that would be giant news! and giant news calls for Giant Shrimp!"


 

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uniter not divider

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.02.04

Read it and weep: Congressional Republicans are looking for a long, hot summer.

Republicans plan to use Congress to pull Sen. John F. Kerry and vulnerable Democrats into the cultural wars over gay rights, abortion and guns, envisioning a series of debates and votes that will highlight the candidates' positions on divisive issues, according to congressional aides and GOP officials.
Republicans also plan a series of votes on judicial appointments and tax cuts this year that could put Kerry in tough political spots, according to a senior GOP leadership aide. Another possible wedge issue, aides in both parties say, is a long-standing proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw burning the American flag.

If you listen closely, you can hear that the tone is the same as it ever was, only a little bit more shrill. What a farce. I leave it to wiser heads to think about the strategic importance of all of this; for now I'll just stew in my own disgust.


 

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Brooks to poor: "think rich!"

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.02.04

Deduct a point from Mr. Brooks.

Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that liberals have it backward. In reality, culture shapes economics. A person's behavior determines his or her economic destiny. If people live in an environment that fosters industriousness, sobriety, fidelity, punctuality and dependability, they will thrive. But the Great Society welfare system encouraged or enabled bad behavior, and popular culture glamorizes irresponsibility.

Jerk. And his head is funny-looking, too.


 

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The NYT: edgy comedy

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.02.04

I have nothing to say about Haiti, and very little to say about anything else, but this, from the NYT, struck me as hilarious:

Two rebel leaders, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former death-squad member and convicted assassin, and Guy Philippe, a former police chief, did thank the United States for moving to secure Haiti after the fall of Mr. Aristide.
"We're grateful to the United States!" Mr. Chamblain shouted through the window of his truck en route to the presidential palace.
Mr. Philippe said: "The United States soldiers are like us. We're brothers. We're grateful for their service to our nation and against the terrorists of Aristide."
These men, whom Mr. Powell characterized last week as "thugs," and a few hundred of their followers are for now the domestic face of national security in Haiti.

I mean, it's not funny that the situation looks bad. It is funny that the reporter is deeply pissed about it.


 

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An old favorite

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.02.04

Atrios quotes this chestnut from Paul Cameron:

"If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one's own personal amusement, and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get- and that is what homosexuality seems to be-then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist. The evidence is that men do a better job on men and women on women, if all you are looking for is orgasm."

I used this bit when I taught gay marriage issues-- an old sentimental favorite, Paul Cameron is. Wouldn't it be weird if sexuality were like this? If we engaged in means-end reasoning to find the most efficient orgasm? And how did Mrs. Paul Cameron feel about all this? Ah, the good old days.

UPDATE: if this rebuttal is half-accurate about Cameron's methodology, it's stunningly bad-- like, 'useful only to illustrate non-representative samples' bad. On the other hand, I find this argument completely convincing.


 

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I unabombed the exam

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.01.04

Via Erin O'Connor: the Atlantic Monthly on the New SAT-- with new super-syntax actiontm! The test sometimes gives results that are--ahem--counterintuitive:

Reader's evaluation: Mr. Kaczynski's essay is well developed, displays an impressive vocabulary, and makes good use of supporting examples. He also demonstrates an understanding of how to use simple, compound, and complex sentences. Grade: 6 out of 6

I'm about halfway through a stack of intro-level papers, and at this point I'd welcome something from our favorite Mad Bomber. Including a bomb.


 

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Been working out, Captain Picard?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.01.04

clean.jpg

Hard to know what to make of this. Bald head? Check. Painted-on white jeans? Check. Bar body? Check. Pirate earring? Check. All systems gay! Prepare to engage!

What's also cool is that someone, somewhere, thought, "That's it! We'll make an action figure based on cleaning supplies!" Good work.

UPDATE: when I preview the entry, I get the cool picture that makes this entry make sense. But when I look at the blog as a civilian, I don't. Link is here but dammit I want the visual.


 

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Slackmania

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.01.04

I may be a bit unreliable for the next week-- there are a lot of work-related program activities in the air, and the housing search is getting underway. I'll post as the spirit moves me. But fear not: the mediocrity you've come to expect will return just as soon as possible.


 

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Brian Leiter Buys a Cheeseburger

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.01.04

I don't know what Brian Leiter is like in person, but it's fun to imagine how this conversation must have looked. It's kind of like Waiting for Godot, but with ketchup.

I lived in Los Angeles for a brief period a few years ago. The credit card debt from this adventure has just recently left, but, by God, it was worth it. The people, the weather, the general fabulousness...all fantastic. And, as fate would have it, things have gone downhill from there in a few ways, so I think of the Southern California adventure as a halcyon moment.


 

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beyond belief

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.29.04

Why doesn't Bush just name The Very Concept of Liberty as his new running mate? Just when I think he can't milk 9-11 more than he has...

UPDATE: some interesting NYT articles. First, does Bush not like gay people, or is he a tolerant opportunist? Which is worse? Hard to say, but read this.

Although the president's behavior might reinforce the view among his critics that he was acting cynically when he endorsed the amendment, the fact is that he has a record of tolerance in personal situations.

And, on the side of cynicism, there's this, on the fight to get 'the Black church' on one side or the other of the marriage debate. Hmm.


 

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And don't even get me started on Mr. Clean

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.29.04

Megan reminds me of an issue that's been bothering me for a few weeks: the new, incredibly lame Brawny paper towel man. See what I mean:

hist_pt.jpg

Not at all as good as:

2000pic.gif

Now, Mr Original is late-70s, hope-to-see-you-at-the-baths-later hunktastic, while Mr New is a yawnfest. Polls show that support for gay marriage is higher among those who actually know a gay person: does that count the guy in your pantry?


 

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Brutus (the barber) Beefcake

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.29.04

Ex-WWF, ex-toned, ex-well paid wrestler Brutus Beefcake-- now an MBTA fare collector-- has checked into rehab after causing a terrorism scare by leaving a bag of cocaine (mistaken for anthrax) in the Downtown Crossing station. Story here.

Sources said the man who acquired his stage name for hacking off the hair of his enemies in the ring had been working there part time as a fare collector - a job that pays $25,000 a year.
``He was a big star for the World Wrestling (Federation),'' Buck Woodward, a columnist for the online magazine Pro Wrestling Insider, said yesterday of Leslie.
``During the '80s wrestling boom he became popular because he was very good friends with Hulk Hogan.''

More Beefcake information here. I had forgotten about the sleeper hold. But who can ever forget the time that Beefcake and David Sammartino battled to a double disqualification at the 1985 Wrestlemania?


 

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Parity

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.29.04

You'd think the Bush campaign would avoid focusing on Kerry's salad days, since the comparison with our president is not pretty.

Kerry in 1970: In His First Campaign For Congress, Kerry Wanted To Defund CIA. In 1970, Kerry told The Harvard Crimson he wanted "to almost eliminate CIA activity." (Samuel Z. Goldhaber, "John Kerry: A Navy Dove Runs For Congress," The Harvard Crimson, 2/18/70)
Bush in 1972: After Smashing Into Trash Cans, Bush Wanted To Fight Future Head of CIA. "In a now famous incident, [Bush] took his then-16-year-old brother, Marvin, out drinking and ran over a neighbor's garbage cans on the way home; and when confronted by his father, he challenged him to go 'mano a mano'outside." (Lois Romano and Mike Allen, "Guard Records on President are Released," The Washington Post, 2/11/04)

 

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turri redux

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.29.04

If John Turri did not exist, then we would have to invent him, if only to have something to blog about.

This is a funny Nader-venting, while we're on the subject.


 

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Northrup v. Mother Jones

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 02.29.04

And guess who wins?

I knew that this train was bound for glory when I read:

To repeat: nine months into the intelligence disaster that is the non-existence of Iraqi WMD, a complete, humiliating fiasco brought about by a willingness by certain parties to believe pleasing, unsubstantiated stories told by defectors, Ackerman would have us believe that we can make categorical statements of the type above based on a single defector's report, one which, not coincidentally, buoys the "end sanctions" party line espoused for lo these many years by Mother Jones. I'm just saying. No such conclusion is warranted, I'm also saying.

and then I started yelling "the poor man is assalicious! the poor man is assalicious!" when I read:

But didn't the Clinton administration lie to the whole world about Kamel's testimony? They sure did. Isn't this an awful thing to do, to lie? Oh, dreadful. Isn't it just like what Bush did, when he lied to get us into a war? Sure is, except for that "get us into a war" bit at the end. Kind of a key point, that.

 

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