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The Right Call

[ 56 ] March 6, 2008 |

Howard Dean says that delegates will not be seated based on the Michigan and Florida straw polls, but would be willing to sanction delegates based on an actual election agreed to by both campaigns. This is obviously the correct decision. We’ll see if the state parties choose to enfranchise their voters or not.

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Allen: "I Was Serious!"

[ 54 ] March 5, 2008 |

You may recall John Pomfret claiming that the embarrassing Charlotte Allen editorial he published was just “tongue-in-cheek.” (Exactly what the column was satirizing Pomfret left obscure.) Alas, Allen herself doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo:

Washington: When I read this, I immediately thought it was written ironically. Were you surprised that so many people took it literally?

Charlotte Allen: I wouldn’t quite use the word “ironic,” but yes, I meant to be funny but with a serious point–that women want to be taken seriously but quite often don’t act serious. Also, that women and men really are different.

Washington: You write that you doubt women’s representation in such fields as law (the Supreme Court) and medicine (brain surgeons) will rise much in the 21st century. However more women than men currently are graduating from law school and medical school. Could you please comment on this apparent contradiction?

Charlotte Allen: That’s absolutely true, but the proportion of women at the highest levels of these fields is going to remain relatively small, I predict.


Memphis, Tenn.: Ms. Allen, I am confused about The Post editors’ “it was satire, stupid” defense of your article. Could you explain why (or how) you thought the reader could have (or should have) picked up on the satirical tone? I recognize that this question may provoke a response not unlike the Supreme Court’s “I know it when I see it” approach to obscenity, but I have read a lot of satire, and I just don’t see it in your article. Perhaps you could give me a quick and dirty review of my eighth-grade English class?

Charlotte Allen: I’m not sure whether I’d characterize the piece as satire, but I’d certainly characterize it as humor: my poking fun at the dumb things my sex does.

So Allen really does think that women are dumb, largely unqualified for positions of responsibility, etc. — which is entirely unsurprising — and Pomfret feels that it’s reasonable to “proactively” air such views in his op-ed page. Good to know. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the inevitable satirical and provocative debate between Charles Murray and Allen about whether women or African-Americans are dumber.

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Texas May Have Caucuses…

[ 0 ] March 5, 2008 |

…But still no dildos.

Remember a couple weeks ago when the traditionally conservative 5th circuit held that Texas’s ban on sex toys was unconstitutional?

Well, apparently the Texas AG is none too happy about Texas residents, um, getting happy, so he has petitioned the 5th Circuit to rehear the case en banc (which means it will be heard by all the judges of the court, rather than just a panel of three). In a line right out of the GOP “gay marriage will mean the end of the world” playbook, the AG claims that if the court’s decision is permitted to stand, it may “invite … challenges to previously-uncontroversial criminal prohibitions” on sexual practices such as “consensual adult incest or bigamy”

Because apparently that’s what’s happened in every other state where we allow people to use sex toys in peace (for the record, that would be 46 of them).

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Who Would Win in a Fight?

[ 18 ] March 5, 2008 |

Bubbles vs. Renton?

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The Long Primary

[ 26 ] March 5, 2008 |

Kevin Drum, citing 1968, says that Democrat’s needn’t panic. I don’t really buy the historical analogy for a reason that can be summed up in two words: George Wallace. Without him in the race to split the white supremacist vote that went for Goldwater in 1964, Nixon almost certainly wins in a massive landslide. For this reason, I don’t think that this is a very encouraging precedent. On his overall argument, however, I agree with him at least to a point. I don’t think that the extension of the campaign per se is a big deal at all. Were Obama to win Pennsylvania and end the race, for example, I don’t think that the extra month of campaigning would hurt him much as a candidate, and as Kevin says depriving McCain of oxygen may even be a net positive.

The bigger problem is a scenario (which, given that Clinton has to be considered a strong favorite in Pennsylvania, has a substantial likelihood) where Obama has a lead of pledged delegates in the high double or low triple digits but is coming off some high-profile losses in state popular votes. Serious attempts by Clinton to seat delegates based on the results of Michigan and Florida straw polls (although not necessarily a re-vote agreed to by both campaigns and the DNC), for example, would produce very serious conflict. And if Clinton were put over the top by superdelegates (which I continue to think is highly unlikely) she would be severely weakened as a general election candidate. Is it possible that the Democrats could win after a protracted convention battle? Sure. But it would turn an election in which the Democratic candidate has considerable structural advantages into a much dicier proposition. I don’t think that this is something to be sanguine about.

But that’s life; politics is messy. Even having two very strong potential candidates has its downside. It’s especially ironic that a process re-designed to produce a quick victory and party unity has led to the opposite, but unintended consequences are endemic to political institutions. Hopefully this won’t put John McCain in the White House.

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Alan Keyes Watch

[ 8 ] March 5, 2008 |

Althoug Uncommitted doubled him up, Alan Keyes prevailed in a tight race with Duncan Hunter last night and probably dealt a knock-out blow to Rudy Giuliani’s campaign. He spent pretty much the last month campaigning throughout Texas, and the effort clearly bore fruit.

Also, he appears to have totally thrashed Bud Cort.

This fellow is keeping hope alive today. When the Lord realizes that each name listed above Keyes’ is actually the illegitimate child of Satan, He will probably atomize them all.

As Dr. Keyes advises, “if you can’t see the change, be the change.”

On to St. Paul!

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They Write Letters

[ 6 ] March 5, 2008 |

Katha Pollitt on John Pomfret’s Misogyny Clearinghouse:

Linda Hirshman ["For Hillary's Campaign, It's Been a Class Struggle," Outlook, March 2] explains that women, including me, who support Sen. Barack Obama are “fickle,” “elites” who don’t care about low-income women, have possibly been seduced by the wealthy and attractive Barack and Michelle, know (like all women) less about politics than the men of our social class, and being, like all women, more averse to political conflict than men, may just have been browbeaten by those mean, mean “Obamabots.” It couldn’t possibly be that we have read up on the issues, watched the debates, evaluated the campaigns and made complicated judgments that happen to come out differently from Ms. Hirschman’s.

Fortunately, Charlotte Allen boils it all down for the fickle, Obama-crushing, Manolo-coveting, ignorant, conflict-averse, push-aroundable female voter: “Women Aren’t Very Bright.” Thanks for clearing that up!

I’m looking forward to further installments, like “Female Suffrage: A Big Mistake” and “Why Education is Wasted on Women.” Followed by yet another round of, “Why Don’t Women Read The Washington Post?”

[Via Somerby.]

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Worst Case Scenario

[ 62 ] March 5, 2008 |

It looks increasingly likely: Obama, assuming something like his 10-point lead in the Texas caucuses holds up, will win Texas by the metric that actually matters for determining the nomination and overall will do well enough in the delegate count to remain a prohibitive favorite. But with Clinton winning Ohio and “winning” Texas by winning the popular vote in the primaries, she’s certain to stay in and the media narrative that she won a major victory is well in place (and, in a sense by preventing Obama from landing a clear knockout blow she did.) So this thing will go on for another month, and the chances of a debilitating convention fight (still the only foreseeable way that Clinton could win the nomination) that could seriously compromise the Democratic nominee in the general have increased.

Political junkie or not, I’m really not looking forward to this.

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The Obvious Recognized

[ 26 ] March 5, 2008 |

Ohio finally called for Clinton.

It also looks increasingly like she’ll narrowly win the vote in the Texas primary — when was the last time that an updated vote count significantly improved Obama’s standing? I don’t like the trend.

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Texas, Ohio, etc.

[ 10 ] March 5, 2008 |

Open thread…

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Salvage Operations

[ 20 ] March 4, 2008 |

The NYRB has a fascinating piece on Wikipedia; it’s technically a review of a book called Wikipedia: The Missing Manual, but mostly it’s a natural history of the site, with long excursions into vandalism, edit wars, and the review author’s efforts to spare entries from deletion.

Taekwang Industry—a South Korean textile company—was one. A user named Kusunose had “prodded” it—that is, put a red-edged banner at the top of the article proposing it for deletion within five days. I removed the banner, signaling that I disagreed, and I hastily spruced up the text, noting that the company made “Acelan” brand spandex, raincoats, umbrellas, sodium cyanide, and black abaya fabric. The article didn’t disappear: wow, did that feel good.

So I kept on going. I found press citations and argued for keeping the Jitterbug telephone, a large-keyed cell phone with a soft earpiece for elder callers; and Vladimir Narbut, a minor Russian Acmeist poet whose second book, Halleluia, was confiscated by the police; and Sara Mednick, a San Diego neuroscientist and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life; and Pyro Boy, a minor celebrity who turns himself into a human firecracker on stage. I took up the cause of the Arifs, a Cyprio-Turkish crime family based in London (on LexisNexis I found that the Irish Daily Mirror called them “Britain’s No. 1 Crime Family”); and Card Football, a pokerlike football simulation game; and Paul Karason, a suspender-wearing guy whose face turned blue from drinking colloidal silver; and Jim Cara, a guitar restorer and modem-using music collaborationist who badly injured his head in a ski-flying competition; and writer Owen King, son of Stephen King; and Whitley Neill Gin, flavored with South African botanicals; and Whirled News Tonight, a Chicago improv troupe; and Michelle Leonard, a European songwriter, co-writer of a recent glam hit called “Love Songs (They Kill Me).”

Among the articles currently being considered for deletion, we find The Recession of 2008, Observed Performance and Effects of Communism, and Wesley Warren, an Atlanta-area artist who appears to have simply uploaded his resume and is now engaged in a furious effort to salvage his own entry.

Liberal Fascism has not yet been flagged for deletion. In completely unrelated news, The Penis Game appears to have survived its second challenge in recent years.

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Is There a 9th Level Cleric in the House?

[ 0 ] March 4, 2008 |

I can’t find a news report about it yet, but the buzz is that Gary Gygax, founder of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away this morning. I played my first game of D&D at the age of eight with the basic rule set, and in the twenty-five years since have played on and off throughout the evolution of the game. Gygax’ participation in the system was limited after 1985, but he will nonetheless be missed.

Here’s to the 20-sided die. Rest in peace, Gary.

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