John Cole notes a profoundly embarrassing installment in the conservative war on aesthetics by Erick Erickson, who mocks the “‘it’s just fiction’ defense” of Jim Webb.” (Next, those crazy liberals might claim that Vladimir Nabokov isn’t a pedophile, and Thomas Pynchon isn’t an 18th century surveyor!) Radley Balko says that “I met Erickson at a CPAC a couple of years ago. He is every bit as impressive in person as you might guess from the post linked above.” That’s pretty impressive, if only on the grounds that I wouldn’t think that anybody capable of turning on a computer could be as dimwitted and mendacious as Erickson, but evidently I’m too optimistic.
This reminds me of my favorite Erickson moment. In the midst of a truly pathetic defense of wingnut plagiarist Ben Domenech, Erickson claimed that poor Ben’s actions “appear suspicious, but only because permissions obtained and judgments made offline were not reflected online by an out dated and out of business campus newspaper.” Needless to say, a two-second Google inquiry could falsify Erickson’s claim, but the contempt that hacks of this stripe have for their audience is boundless (and, frankly, given that Erickson can still show up on the front page of Red State, may be partially justified.)
The more I read, the more I’m dubious about the apparent coming increase in gender segregation in K-12 schools. Neil reminds us of The Happy Feminist’s terrific post this summer on the subject, in which she points us to some of the underlying theoretical claims of the Louisiana program being challenged:
54. In Why Gender Matters, Dr. Sax states that because of biological differences in the brain, boys need to practice pursuing and killing prey, while girls need to practice taking care of babies. As a result, boys should be permitted to roughhouse during recess and play contact sports, to learn the rules of aggression. Such play is more dangerous for girls, because girls are less biologically able to manage aggression.
57. In Why Gender Matters, Dr. Sax urges that boys be taught in competitive, high-energy teams. In contrast, teachers should assure that girls are relaxed in class. For instance, girls should be encouraged to take their shoes off. Also, girls should never be given strict time limits to complete tasks. Stress makes boys perform better and girls perform worse, according to Dr. Sax.
59. In Why Gender Matters, Dr. Sax explains that literature teachers should not ask boys about emotions in literature, but should simply focus on what actually happened in the story. In contrast, teachers should focus on emotions rather than action in teaching literature to girls.
62. In Why Gender Matters, Dr. Sax explains that “anomalous males” — boys who like to read, who don’t enjoy competitive sports or rough-and-tumble play, and who don’t have a lot of close male friends — should be firmly disciplined, should spend as much time as possible with “normal males,” and should be made to play competitive sports.
Yeah, if there’s any problem that we currently face, it’s that men are reading too damned much!
None of this is to say this is an inherent characteristic of single-sex education; it doesn’t seem to describe the school that Becks attended, for example. It’s all in the details. But given the competence and commitment to women’s rights of the current administration…
Waterboarding–now officially endorsed by the Vice President of the United States (whether his lackeys lie about it or not)–is, in fact, torture. Lederman and Balkin explain in detail.
I also like Sully going all rhetorically McArdle on Hugh Hewitt:
I do not make an argument in the book about Planned Parenthood. I just use it because I think that’s a beautiful statement of the freedom of individual conscience, and the freedom of the individual liberty, of the individual person, which you, of course, disagree with profoundly, and want the executive to be able to pluck people off the streets and jail them without charges. That’s your position, right?
HH: You see no inconsistency in quoting from an opinion…
AS: I see inconsistency in someone who calls himself an Evangelical Catholic supporting torture, like you do.
To be clear, supporting the Republicans, 2006 edition, means supporting the arbitrary power of the executive to pick up people and torture them without charges or recourse to the courts. Full stop.
K-Lo’s attempts to convince herself that Rick Santorum can win are pretty sad. Still–particularly since she seems to realize its futility on some level–I don’t think that she can hold a candle to Time-Approved Real Clear Politics’ prediction of the 2000 elections on November 6, 2000:
We continue to see a landslide of over 400 electoral votes and a Bush win by 7-10 points. We will have to wait until tomorrow to see whether the “tightening polls” may have worked to save Illinois, California, Minnesota and a few others for the Vice President.
Yep–California and Illinois in the “leaning Bush” pile. Now that’s hackery.
Erik identifies the most objectionable thing offered up by a Hitchens in his New Yorker profile; he’s become pathetic enough that it’s hard to dislike him entirely. I like Mimi Smartypants’s take on his claim about the four most overrated things in life. On the first read, I nodded my sweaty, mid-eliptical head in approval, especially since he offered it as a guest brought a bottle of champagne–particularly when you consider the quality of red wine you can buy for what a decent bottle costs, it’s like, I dunno, wine for people who don’t like wine. And I can really do without outdoor eating. But somehow the combination of the four ruins the effect–a picnic involving lobster, champagne, and anal sex…sure beats vacuuming, one has to admit.
I should note at this point that M.S. is a blog I don’t link to often, because she’s not really a “political” blogger and because I (thankfully for all non-insomniacs) generally avoid blogging about my daily life, but it is a blog that you should be reading because she can flat write. This is a minor example, but I like this take on bad Trader Joe’s liquor:
Recently the whole family went to Trader Joe’s. This store seems to inspire a sort of carnival, devil-may-care attitude in me—although I am normally a very careful, stick-to-the-list shopper, there is nothing I truly NEED at Trader Joe’s, and thus we just sort of wander the aisles, me with my basket and Nora driving her child-sized cart, and randomly throw intriguing items into our respective containers. One of the intriguing things we bought was a canned beer called Mountain Creek. It already sounded dubious, because mountain creeks usually contain moose urine instead of delicious alcohol. In very tiny print on the can, the Huber brewing company claimed responsibility for producing Mountain Creek, but none of their websites will publicly say so (another red flag). However, the Mountain Creek was so cheap it was practically free, free like a freethinking Unabomber type who wanders out from his electricity-less cabin to scoop up mouthfuls of a mountain creek, so we decided to give it a try.
Don’t you make the same mistake. I am a fan of shitty beer, and I willingly lap up all the dollar Pabst and Schlitz and American that this city cares to throw at me, but Mountain Creek tastes like melted gummy worm with some sort of weird herbal undertone; melted gummy worms simmered gently on the stove with some bay leaves thrown in. Although now that I type that it sounds kind of good (keep in mind I am high on Dayquil). I hope it all remains hypothetical for you, however, because I don’t wish Mountain Creek on anyone.
Plenty as good and better where that came from. Recommended.
As much as I hate to concede any point to Tim McCarver…I knew Chris Duncan was a bad outfielder, but I didn’t know that he made Pete Incaviglia look like Roberto Clemente. (And they’re calling the Casey fly a double? There’s home cooking, and then there’s just outright fraud…)
…Congrats to the Cardinals and their fans, condolences to MHS, Mr. Sisyphus Shrugged, and all the other Tiger fans out there. I’m not sure if this should make me depressed because this could have been the Mets, or happier because losing to the Cardinals isn’t quite so humiliating…
Shorter Verbatim Camille Paglia: “I was bitterly disappointed after voting for Ralph Nader that he didn’t devote himself to helping build a strong third party in this country.”
Paglia was also bitterly disappointed that George W. Bush didn’t turn out to be the Gerald Ford-like moderate that Joe Klein assured us he would be, and that Cinderella Man turned out to be a third-rate melodrama rather than the greatest American film since Citizen Kane. (But that J-Pod is so reliable!)
Anyway, I’m sure that, like me, your first thought on Salon‘s inexplicable decision to devote significant bandwidth to this kind of crap was, “Wait…Camille Paglia is still alive?”
…A commenter also points out this gem:
And why didn’t Democrats notice that they were drifting into an area which has been the province of the right wing — that is, the attempt to gain authoritarian control over interpersonal communications on the Web? It’s very worrisome and yet more proof that the Democrats have lost their way.
In addition to the general idiocy of blowing off the importance of arbitrary executive power, the denial of habeas corpus, etc., etc., there’s the additional irony that the bill that established special penalties for these kind of IM communications was largely rammed through Congress by Foley himself. This is the problem with discussing politics when you know absolutely nothing about it.
I have a post up at TAPPED about the total ban on abortions in Nicaragua. As a follow-up, Liza Sabater provides valuable cultural context.
George Allen and Matt Drudge: world-class wankers.
See also Steve on the contemporaneous conservative reactions to Webb’s novel. Meanwhile, Patterico trots out the “but Democrats would hypothetically be doing the same thing, so they’re equally guilty, and remember that the obscure crank who tried to out a Senator who’s not even running this year represents the entire Democrat Party!” routine…
…Ezra has more.
Tom Maguire objects to my suggestion that objections to the Supreme Court of New Jersey ‘s recent decision from (nominal) supporters of civil unions are, at bottom, substantive rather than procedural:
My personal opinion is that gay marriage or civil unions is fine if enacted by the state legislature but wrong if crammed down by judicial fiat. How would pollsters, or Mr. Lemieux, score that? Surely I am not alone in believing that process counts.
Maguire is, of course, correct that the fact that a majority of New Jersey’s citizens support civil unions goes only to the questions of whether the decision is “countermajoritarian,” and neither here not there in terms of the merits of the opinion. But he doesn’t quote the passage where I actually address his point:
I would be interested in a more robust explanation of why nominal supporters of gay marriage such as Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds oppose these judicial decisions, which are based on a perfectly plausible (although contestable, and opposed by precedent) reading of equal protection clauses. It certainly can’t be a general commitment to judicial deference to the legislatures in cases where the constitutional text is ambiguous–when the Supreme Court deferred to state legislatures in Kelo, for example, Reynolds and Volokh strongly disagreed, arguing that the Supreme Court should adopt a plausible (but contestable, and opposed by precedent) reading of the takings clause that would have the federal courts use a broad conception of “public use” to trump the judgments of elected officials.
The problem is that I don’t see any evidence that, as a general rule, Reynolds or Volokh believe that exercises of judicial review based on ambiguous constitutional provisions represent cramming policy judgments down the throats of the public. (This may not be applicable to Maguire, although the stray references to Kelo I found on his blog suggest that he believes that the federal courts should, to use his purported vision of the democratic process, “cram” a judicially-determined conception of public use “down the throats” of the public against the will of elected officials.) And it’s not just Kelo; Reynolds and Volokh also seem to support more aggressive Supreme Court policing of federal powers, for example. Moreover, given that Reynolds, Volokh and Maguire pre-empitvely oppose any judicial decision expanding marriage benefits irrespective of the text, history and precedents of an individual state’s constitutional order, it’s implausible that this is simply about the fine points of legal doctrine. “Process” matters here only in the banal sense that of course the court’s shouldn’t strike down laws without a constitutional basis, but given that there’s surely at least a plausible argument that the denial of marriage benefits to same-sex couples is inconsistent with broad guarantees of equal protection, that doesn’t do any real work in this case. What’s going on here is that Reynolds et al. place a higher substantive value on the rights of property owners than on the rights of gay people. That’s their privilege, but they should defend that rather than hiding behind banalties about judicial restraint that are clearly intertwined with substantive judgments about the merits of rights claims.
Ann Althouse claims that yesterday’s civil unions ruling by the Supreme Court of New Jersey is an example of “judges who get out in front of what the majority wants.” The problem is that the court was doing what the majority wants. (This is what one may call the Robert Bork fallacy: if I disagree with what the courts are doing, then they must be countermajoritarian.) As with abortion, it was legislators who were behind the public. This doesn’t, in and of itself, make the decision right, but if there’s a problem with what the court did, it’s not that it’s going against the will of a majority of the citizens of New Jersey.
Yglesias has cherry-picked the best bit from this lunatic-even-by-
Victor-Davis-Hanson-standards post at the Corner (“we were lectured daily about the intricacies of Vietnamese, Russian, and Chinese Communists — their rivalries, hatreds, and quite separate aims-as they combined to defeat the United States, and trumped their own tensions with an all-encompassing hatred of Western democratic capitalism.” Damn that airtight Sino/Soviet alliance–no wonder we’re all speaking a strange Russian/Chinese hybrid today!”) But I also like this part:
I was lectured by some that there was nothing such as jihadism in the comprehensive sense. That is, that Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. simply have entirely separate agendas, understandable (i.e., Israel, “occupation” of Arab lands) and particularist grievances, etc.
Leaving aside the fact that these “lectures” are of course entirely correct, it’s possible to exploit tensions between groups who share some interests and diverge in other ways, etc., is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza supposed to be controversial? I guess we can argue about whether Israel was justified, what the borders of a two-state solution would look like, etc., but Israel’s occupation of these territories is a simple empirical fact. (I guess this an echo of Zell Miller’s insane rants about how it’s immoral to call American soldiers in Iraq “occupiers” unless George Bush is doing it, because military domination of a country for multiple years doesn’t count as an “occupation” if you’re doing it to make apple pies grow on trees or something.)