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A fun toy reveals Nagel is was with us

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.27.04

Via the Decembrist, this site allows you to check on your neighbors'-- or anyone else's-- political contributions.

This makes me feel a little better:

Thomas Nagel [donated to]...Wesley Clark [to the tune of] $1,000

 

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Paging BAA

Posted by Ogged
on 03.26.04

David Brooks is supposed to be the guy who finds the telling detail that perfectly captures some true yet heretofore hazily noted feature of our society. Oh, how sweet it is.

Brooks wrote of his leisurely northward drive [to Pennsylvania's Franklin County] to see the other America across "the Meatloaf Line; from here on there will be a lot fewer sun-dried-tomato concoctions on restaurant menus and a lot more meatloaf platters."

...

[Brooks] spent the night [in Franklin County at the Mercersburg] inn. "For breakfast I made a goat-cheese-and-sun-dried-tomato tart," Sandy said. "He said he just wanted scrambled eggs."

Go home David Brooks, just go home.

AND: Ana Marie Cox, formerly the Antic Muse, now Wonkette, always my partner in thinking ill of David Brooks, has more.


 

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Why I am lousy

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.26.04

I actually thought the Bush comedy routine was funny. Billmon's post is funnier, though.

Or Roosevelt doing "Battle of the Bulge" jokes ("Ethel Merman thought they were talking about her.")

 

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Oink

Posted by Ogged
on 03.26.04

I was musing to myself the other day that, since Richard Clarke is kicking Bushie butt up and down the block, it must be nigh pig-fucking time. Well, sure enough.

ROBERT NOVAK: Congressman, do you believe, you're a sophisticated guy, do you believe watching these hearings that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?

And from Ann Coulter,

Isn't that just like a liberal? The chair-warmer describes Bush as a cowboy and Rumsfeld as his gunslinger -- but the black chick is a dummy. Maybe even as dumb as Clarence Thomas. Perhaps someday liberals could map out the relative intelligence of various black government officials for us.

Welcome, folks, to pig-fucking time.


 

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The Plan

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.04

Help me think of an inflammatory post title so Instapundit will link to me, as if I'm channeling conventional wisdom. Or wait. Maybe I can come up with a really overblown title, link that to Instapundit, and then have Instapundit link back to me, as if I'm channeling conventional wisdom. I swear this will work.


 

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Caution

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.04

Since even the perspicacious Taegan Goddard is now pushing the importance of the "August 6 briefing" in which George Bush is suspected to have been informed of intelligence about Al Qaeda's plans to use planes as missiles, let me call everyone's attention to Richard Clarke's answer to a question about that memo.

I think its importance has been overblown...In response to the drumbeat day after day of intelligence that there was going to be an al-Qaida attack, the president apparently said, "Tell me what al-Qaida could do." And in response to that the CIA went off and wrote a paper that listed everything possible that al-Qaida could do. It didn't say we have intelligence that tells us the attack will be here or there, the attack method will be this or that. It was rather a laundry list of possible things they could do.

That makes sense. We should lay off this one.

UPDATE: Taegan now notes Clarke's comment.


 

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Leaner Already

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.04

The always readable, appropriately litigious, VW driving (when she's not walking) single sailor Scheherazade is giggling. You can too. This one took me straight to guffaw.


 

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Mama

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.04

How integral has Google become? Well, it's a surrogate parent (the referrers are killing me today): what to do about a fight over a boy do you fist fight

Hell yes you fist fight. And you let all the other boys gather around and chant "fight! fight! fight!" until somebody really gets hurt and the crowd cheers. But be careful, if he likes both of you, you don't want to grievously injure the other girl, because then she might get sympathy from him. Best to either humiliate her, or get a little bit hurt yourself. 'k?

And really, what the hell kind of question is that from someone whose IP address traces back to Weber High, home of the Warriors? Fight! Fight! Fight!


 

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Quiet Time

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.04

Jacob Levy has a sagacious post on the Pledge of Allegiance that accords with Fontana's analysis and Mitch's comment. The Pledge is profoundly weird, and if it weren't a familiar ritual, there's no chance even in George Bush's America that we would institute it now. And I'll add just a little bit from personal experience: I always refused to say the Pledge, and Levy is exactly right that to do so I had to make a very uncomfortable spectacle of myself. And while I understand Eugene Volokh's point that Newdow is putting his own daughter in an uncomfortable position if she's associated with the overturning of the Pledge, Newdow's argument--that it's a hell of a lot to ask of a kid to refuse--remains valid for other cases and shouldn't be dismissed.


 

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Me Too!

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.04

The unspoken blogger competition for best Google referrer search is over. Unfogged has won:

i am having real difficulty with the fact that a world class, american athlete, finds it perfectly acceptable to leave a sexless, loveless and homephobic women alone knowing that she is love starved?

I love the question mark at the end.


 

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Romero

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.24.04

"When humans acquire power, how they trample others!"

Read this Body and Soul post on the anniversary of Archbishop Romero's murder.

romero.jpg


 

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Lithwick on Newdow

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.24.04

This is a nice blow-by-blow from today's oral arguments in Newdow, from Dahlia Lithwick.

O'Connor reminds Newdow that his daughter has a right not to pledge. He cites to the Supreme Court decision in the 1992 case Lee v. Weisman that found nonsectarian prayers at a public school graduation ceremony violated the Constitution because they coerce student participation.
"But that was a prayer!" snaps O'Connor.
Newdow replies by quoting a 2002 letter from President Bush to a Buddhist leader (appended to this amicus brief): "When we pledge allegiance to One Nation under God, our citizens participate in an important American tradition of humbly seeking the wisdom and blessing of Divine Providence."
"That does not constitute prayer," says O'Connor.
"President Bush says it is," says Newdow. Folks laugh.

Well. I'm no scholar, of course, but I admit to some sympathy to the Newdow side. What's odd about this case, it seems to me, is that the God clause is acceptable just in case it's contentless. This puts the pro-inclusion people in a bit of a dilemma: they win by denying the importance of their cause. Is that a cock crowing in the distance? To put it another way, their fervor betrays itself.

Annoying: "God" sometimes means God, except when it doesn't. Those of us without the Big Man in our ontologies really aren't just subbing in some other entity when we hear the G-word. What would that be, exactly? And why would I think that the term works that way? It's not only a dodge, it's a clear, transparent, obviously idiotic dodge.

Justice Stephen Breyer argues that neutral words like "Supreme Being" or "God" attempt to reach out and include believers in everything, and that, "maybe it even includes you." Newdow says he can't see how "under God" could mean "no God," and that the "government needs to stay out of this business altogether." Several times today Newdow seems poised to call an argument or question "stupid." You can almost feel him biting his tongue, then substituting "questionable."

At the same time, we can agree that this Newdow guy kind of sounds like a jerk-- Mr Village Atheist Knows Better Than You. We can also agree that he's very, very smart, so I'll only call him names behind his back.


 

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Thanks, IA

Posted by Ogged
on 03.24.04

The wonderful Invisible Adjunct, of the eponymous blog, is closing up shop. If you've been a visitor there, be sure to leave her a few kind words.


 

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Brawny follow-up

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.24.04

Ogged brings my attention to this review of the Brawny makeover (the ads are here). It's wrong from start to finish:

If ever anyone needed a Queer Eye-style makeover, it was the Brawny Man. Exhibit A: the risibly unfashionable denim shirt (open to midsternum). Exhibit B: the porn-star moustache. (And did they have to make the Web site brawnyman.com?) Exhibit C: the tufts of hair obscuring the ears (though the outdated look was much better than coifs past—the Brawny Man was still sporting a center part up until 1991).

It's a clone moustache, admittedly in need of a trim. He's got a rugged, outdoorsy look. So he hangs out with the bears sometimes-- is that so wrong? The original Brawny man is like the funny uncle of the Queer Eye crew. Show some respect, people.

Redemption: the ad critic more or less gets it right on one of my favorites, the Travelocity Gnome:

Lastly: At one point the gnome, in his cheery way, says that hot tubs might send bubbles "up one's woopsedaisy." I guess that's a cute little euphemism. But good heavens, must I be forced to consider the existence of the gnome's plaster anus? Is this what we've come to now? Will I soon be made to know that the Doughboy has pale and doughy genitalia? And what of Yao Ming? Where does it stop?

Garden gnome liberation details here.


 

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Adroit

Posted by Ogged
on 03.23.04

Earlier today, Dan Drezner wrote that

[Richard Clarke] was extremely skilled in the art of bureaucratic politics. One official who saw Clarke in action -- and has no love for this administration -- described him to me as "smart, conservative, dedicated, insecure, and vindictive." I've heard stories from both friends and foes of Clarke, and they have one common thread -- you did not want this man for an enemy. He knows how to retaliate.

Now, insofar as this frames Clarke's actions as personal and vindictive, I think Dan should have qualified it a bit, but, lordy, Clarke really is good. Read the whole Salon interview; the first exchange goes like this.

You said on "60 Minutes" that you expected "their dogs" to be set on you when your book was published, but did you think that the attacks would be so personal?
Oh yeah, absolutely, for two reasons. For one, the Bush White House assumes that everyone who works for them is part of a personal loyalty network, rather than part of the government. And that their first loyalty is to Bush rather than to the people. When you cross that line or violate that trust, they get very upset. That's the first reason. But the second reason is that I think they're trying to bait me -- and people who agree with me -- into talking about all the trivial little things that they are raising, rather than talking about the big issues in the book.

That, friends, is perfect pitch. And he just keeps rolling.


 

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Brooks: can I get a witness?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.23.04

David Brooks' column is prompted by the Newdow oral arguments, which start tomorrow. As usual, he's either confused or irrelevant. (That's the inclusive 'or,' by the way.) His point: we need Biblical wisdom!

Whether you believe in God or not, the Bible and commentaries on the Bible can be read as instructions about what human beings are like and how they are likely to behave. Moreover, this biblical wisdom is deeper and more accurate than the wisdom offered by the secular social sciences, which often treat human beings as soulless utility-maximizers, or as members of this or that demographic group or class.

Bitchy point: a group or class like, say, bobos, the class that made Brooks famous? Less bitchy point: I'm no social scientist, but we've known this for a long time. That's part of why Daniel frickin' Kahneman won the Nobel prize.

Whether the topic is welfare, education, the regulation of biotechnology or even the war on terrorism, biblical wisdom may offer something that secular thinking does not — not pat answers, but a way to think about things.

To judge from its most public proponents, the Bible gives us exactly the wrong way to think about all of these issues. Of course, they could be misreading it, but so much the worse for the text as a practical guide, no?

For example, it's been painful to watch thoroughly secularized Europeans try to grapple with Al Qaeda. The bombers declare, "You want life, and we want death"— a (fanatical) religious statement par excellence. But thoroughly secularized listeners lack the mental equipment to even begin to understand that statement. They struggle desperately to convert Al Qaeda into a political phenomenon: the bombers must be expressing some grievance. This is the path to permanent bewilderment.

The same point applies here. It's been painful to watch Americans treat al Qaeda as pure evil without any kind of (explanatory, not justificatory) social or historical context. Painful, I mean, because I'd rather not get killed and so I'd like our response to al-Q to be an effective one. And this reading is all too common among religionists. Is that unfair?

The lesson I draw from all this is that prayer should not be permitted in public schools, but maybe theology should be mandatory. Students should be introduced to the prophets, to the Old and New Testaments, to the Koran, to a few of the commentators who argue about these texts.

Prayer is permitted in public schools. Brooks is either badly informed or misrepresenting the facts. It's the endorsement of a religious viewpoint by the public sphere that's constitutionally unwelcome.

From this perspective, what gets recited in the pledge is the least important issue before us. Understanding what the phrase "one nation under God" might mean — that's the important thing. That's not proselytizing; it's citizenship. 
 

The irony here is that the historical/cultural study Brooks is advocating-- one that has absolutely nothing to do with the Newdow case, which, again, is about the endorsement of a religious viewpoint-- is one that's unfriendly to the people who are most exercised about the pledge. To treat different traditions in a neutral and fair way emphasizes, for example, that certain strants of Protestantism are recent developments, that the 'literal reading' of scripture is as well, and other facts that are in tension with the way some religionists understand what they're doing.

Shorter FL: Brooks is a doofus.


 

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Academic life, redux

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.23.04

You've heard the sad news that another IA is closing up shop. This is poignant (as far as blogworld happenings are) insofar as her site (a) made me terrifically depressed about my profession and (b) led to my first encounter with Herr Ogged-- and then, of course, magic happened.

[redacted]

So farewell to the invisible adjunct. Something tells me your next career will be more fun than your past life.


 

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Kaplan on Clarke

Posted by Ogged
on 03.23.04
Fred Kaplan went to school with Richard Clarke, and then was a reporter when Clarke was in the government. Kaplan's judgement:
I have no doubt that Richard Clarke, the former National Security Council official who has launched a broadside against President Bush's counterterrorism policies, is telling the truth about every single charge.

 

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Spin Bump Thump

Posted by Ogged
on 03.23.04

Fantastic article by Ryan Lizza on the contradictory and untrue attacks on Richard Clarke (has anyone pointed out yet that all the administration flunkies always always call him "Dick Clark?"). Love this part. (my bolding)

The most intellectually dishonest performance was Dick Cheney's emergency interview on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. Limbaugh wondered how in the world Bush could have made this guy Clarke head of counterterrorism. "Well, I wasn't directly involved in that decision," Cheney said. "He was moved out of the counterterrorism business over to the cybersecurity side of things. That is, he was given the new assignment at some point there. I don't recall the exact time frame."
Who could be expected to keep track of such minor details as how long Clarke was kept as counterterrorism czar? Maybe some scenes from Clarke's book would jog the vice president's memory. Clarke was the guy standing in Cheney's office on the morning of 9/11 with Rice in the minutes after the first attack. He's the guy that Condi turned to and asked, "Okay, Dick, you're the crisis manager, what do you recommend?" Later in the day he was also the guy standing in between Rice and Cheney in the White House Situation Room. He was the one whose shoulder Cheney placed his hand on when he asked, "Are you getting everything you need, everybody doing what you want?" Cheney might also remember Clarke as the guy who asked Cheney to request authorization from Bush to shoot down any hijacked airplanes. He may also recall him as the man who briefed Bush when the president finally arrived back at the White House. In other words, Cheney neglected to inform Limbaugh's audience that Clarke didn't move to cyberterrorism until a month after 9/11.

Splat.


 

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Go

Posted by Ogged
on 03.23.04

This cracked me up.



 

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Not Tonight Babe, I Can't See or Speak or Walk

Posted by Ogged
on 03.22.04

Times are tough for Colin Farrell, the Lusty Leprechaun. Not only was there the well-documented rebuff from the lovely Josie Maran,

She says she can't understand what he says, other than the F-word.

But now, even noted Blackberry user Courtney Love has said "no." That's gotta hurt.


 

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Clarke's Case

Posted by Ogged
on 03.22.04
Ok liberal buddies, time to wake up. There will be no knockout blows. Whatever Richard Clarke says, we have to make it stick. The line against Clarke is that he's bitter that he was "demoted." So far, the liberal response is that he wasn't personally demoted, rather, Bush didn't think counter-terrorism was cabinet level important. Sounds great for us. But there's already a response to this out there, and it's a massive lie that we need to rebut. (my emphasis)
national counter-terrorism coordinator, [is] a job that really no longer exists because strategy of the current admin is to eradicate al Qaeda, not merely to contain it with extraditions and prosecutions -- which means it is now in the hands of the NSC & DOD, where it should have been all along. When Bush II came in, among the first things he directed was an entire rethinking of the anemic Clinton anti-terror strategy (at the actual cabinet and NSC level -- meaning Veep, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet and their deputies), which demoted Clarke. BUT, rather than firing Clarke the prez kept him on with the understanding that he should continue doing his important work while the new strategy was being developed and implemented
This is obviously crap. There's no evidence that Clarke's position was demphasized because the Bushies thought terrorism was more important than did the Clintonites. There's plenty of evidence that the Bushies didn't care much about terrorism prior to 9/11 (and even after). They'll try to say that the NSC and DOD were taking the lead on terrorism; don't let them get away with it. UPDATE:Here's the White House release on Clarke.

 

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Yassin

Posted by Ogged
on 03.21.04
Oh god.



 

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am I hallucinating?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.21.04

Ok. Go to the Onion's site, and click to read the Rumsfeld martial arts story. It's funny-- a take-off on 'Enter the Dragon,' which itself is really funny-- but that's not why I'm asking you to look at it. Move your mouse as if to click on the 'back' button. Do you hear anything? A mysterious asian voice as you move over the buttons?

I swear this worked the first time I read the story, and now I can't get it to repeat. If it's really there, it's funny as hell. If it's not, maybe we can add a "buy him some medication" button to the blog.


 

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Why I should take early retirement

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.21.04

This is the best moral philosophy ever. Followed closely by this.


 

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The Brian Leiter Gourmet Dating Service

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 03.21.04

Newly-single Ogged (shown here with the ex) wonders about this dating service for "single graduates and faculty of a select group of excellent universities and colleges."

But we can do better. I propose a new synthesis: Dawne Touchings [sic] and one of this blog's favorite targets subjects, ranker extraordinaire Brian Leiter. The dating would, of course, be subject to peer review:

This potential date has strong offerings in small talk and wardrobe. He's notable in foreplay, and there are generous funding opportunities. Applicants should worry, though, about the median time to completion.*

*Jokes about rigid designators omitted for the sake of our precious dignity.


 

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First!

Posted by Ogged
on 03.21.04

Happy first day of Spring, Iranian New Year, and yes, my birthday, to everyone. I'm off to spend the day with family. Have fun!


 

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Feel Me Dog?

Posted by Ogged
on 03.21.04

I've always been a sucker for personals, but now that I'm single again (yes, I'm unengaged, though not bitter...yet) a question occurs to me that hadn't before: when someone is looking for a SWM, does that include or exclude Iranians? (Setting aside for the moment that I likely wouldn't respond to someone who specified a preferred race.) Of course, there's that business of Iran/Aryan, but I don't think that's top of mind when people post personals. I'm fairly light-skinned, but I tan instantly, so for a few months out of the year, I'm not so light-skinned. How else to decide?

By the way, do all you expensively educated folk know about this dating service? (What up with the hair? Dawne Touchings? Ugh.)


 

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