Thers asks: “what does it mean that The Matrix, the first one, is a watchable movie, when the dialogue is so astoundingly stupid?” Well, it means that a movie can be entertaining even if poorly written and not very well-acted if it has other virtues. But it also means that some movies of significant entertainment value but limited aesthetic mertis — especially if they have a soupcon of pretension — get inexplicably treated as if they were Works of Profound Genius. And what’s worse is that the Wachowskis seemed to take the highest praise given their decent B-movie seriously, leading to the leaden-paced, interminable, suffused-with-Baudrillardian-wankery sequels. Sad.
The State Department, departing from traditional public diplomacy techniques, has what it calls a three-person, “digital outreach team” posting entries in Arabic on “influential” Arabic blogs to challenge misrepresentations of the United States and promote moderate views among Islamic youths in the hopes of steering them from terrorism.
The department’s bloggers “speak the language and idiom of the region, know the culture reference points and are often able to converse informally and frankly, rather than adopt the usually more formal persona of a U.S. government spokesperson,” Duncan MacInnes, of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism and unconventional threats on Thursday.
Huh. I wonder if Al Qaeda deploys teams of trolls onto “influential” American blogs; could we tell the difference between an Al Qaeda troll and a more typical wingnutty troll? On issues of gay rights or abortion, probably not. But then, these ruminations serve only to emphasize how important it is not to allow a “troll gap”; I would hate to think that the future of the Republic is threatened by a troll shortage.
Cross-posted to Tapped.
Conservapedia has the scorecard. Give yourself a point for each entry that sounds familiar. Take a celebratory drink for those in bold. Give yourself two points if you have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.
The style of a liberal often includes these characteristics:
1. calling conservative humor “unprofessional and meaningless, and degrades the quality of your encyclopedia.”
2. overreliance on hearsay, such as the false claim that most support evolution
3. unjustified praise of atheists and other liberals as “geniuses”, despite little achievement
4. calling the use of the term liberal when used in a derogatory context “stupid”
5. denial that people can grow out of a liberal viewpoint, such as atheism
6. denial of accountability
7. insisting on a mindless equality, as in “if you have an entry for Beethoven, then you must allow entries for vulgar rap artists!”
8. concealing one’s liberal views rather than admitting them
9. calling conservative free speech “hate” speech
10. pretending to know more than he does; Isaac Newton admitted that he knew almost nothing, yet a liberal rarely admits that and often pretends to know more than he does
11. resistance to quantifying things, such as liberal bias or openmindedness
12. preference for obscenity and profanity
13. insistence on having the last word in a discussion or debate
14. over-reliance on mockery
15. over-reliance on accusations of hypocrisy
16. hostility to faith
17. insistence on censoring certain speech, such as a description of The Flood or even teaching children about a massive flood, despite its acceptance by a majority of Americans
18. believing that the education of children is for liberals to control
19. believing that conservatives will fail, and refusing to accept when they succeed, as when George W. Bush won in 2000
20. reluctance to admit that anything is morally wrong
21. bullying conservatives who disagree with liberal views
22. draw an analogy between opponents and racists, no matter how illogical
23. claim that science supports their position, and ignore any evidence that shows their position to be false
24. often declare that an adversary should be “ashamed of himself,” while never saying that about a fellow liberal (such as Ted Kennedy or Bill Clinton)
25. willing to give away everything held dear by the majority to avoid serious conflict (such as the appeasement of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, or those liberals who wish to pull our troops out of Iraq, and embolden the terrorists).
26. using hyperbole instead of fact-based logic in an attempt to tug at people’s emotions rather than appealing to their sense of reason.
27. often long-winded and verbose, and in debates liberals often consume more than their fair share of the alloted time, leaving less time for the other side.
28. attempting to control the rules of evidence used in a debate. For example, claiming that Young Earth Creationism is false, and then refusing to allow supporting evidence by claiming that the scientists are religiously motivated.
29. attempting to control the definitions of words through political correctness. For example, referring to Israel as “occupied territories” or suggesting that Al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq are not part of Al-Qaeda.
30. Dismissing legitimate criticism as “a joke”
31. Denying something widely known to be true but difficult to prove, such as observing that men are far more likely to work in gas stations than women.
32. Will often deny being a liberal, or will claim to be a “true conservative”, while spouting liberal and democratic talking points and criticizing basic conservative beliefs and principles.
33. using non sequiturs in argument, such as responding to the point above that liberals over-rely on accusations of hypocrisy by citing an example of conservatives’ observing liberal hypocrisy. But their example does not help their argument. Quite the contrary, use of that example tends to prove that liberals do over-rely on accusations of hypocrisy (relativism). Think about that.
34. selectively citing the Bible when convenient, even though they hold much of it in disdain.
35. believing that bureaucratic honors or appointments are meaningful achievements.
36. silly demands for apologies.
37. can’t understand the difference between identity (e.g., color of one’s skin), perspective (e.g., Judeo-Christian) and bias (e.g., Bias in Wikipedia).
38. inability or unwillingness to differentiate between genuine conservative arguments and parodies of conservative arguments.
39. “Contrariness is creativity to the untalented” – Dennis Miller’s general observation about liberal behavior.
40. Assuming criminals are on the other side of the political fence, without evidence.
I suppose Hyde will be remembered best for enabling the federal government to arbitrarily punish poor women for choices of which it did not approve, thus protecting the lives of fetuses who — once born — his party preferred to cast into the wind.
- Ponnuru calls my argument that bans on “partial birth” objection do not protect fetal life — and hence (unlike a general ban on the procedure, at least in the abstract) cannot be defended in libertarian terms — “absurd,” but doesn’t explain why. On the question of whether such bans may result to injury to women, don’t take my word for it; believe Focus on the Family’s VP, who correctly points out that in some cases beinf forced to perform the D&E “means there is greater…danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus.” (Being a pro-choice radical, I do dissent from his belief that more uteral perforation is a good thing.) Unless you believe implausibly that women will just stop getting D&Es, though, the bans also do essentially nothing to protect fetal life. Again, don’t take my word for it; Solicitor General Clement conceded at oral argument that “no woman would be prevented from terminating her pregnancy,” which is just self-evidently true; a woman prohibited from getting a D&X can always get a D&E. I have no idea what the libertarian justification for such an irrational federal statute could be, and Ponnuru doesn’t provide any assistance on the point.
- On the question of whether Paul’s record is consistent with the assertion that abortion is a state issue, this seems pretty straightforward. When you say that abortion is a state issue and then vote for a federal abortion regulation…I think the contradiction is fairly ironclad. Admittedly, Paul’s inconsistency is lesser than most other “overturning Roe will send the issue back to the states” types; he has, for example, consistently voted against legislation making it a crime to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion. This is in contrast to Ponnuru’s favorite candidate John McCain, who while arguing that abortion should be sent back to the states has not only voted for pretty much every federal abortion regulation to come down the pike but also supports a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion in all 50 states. I don’t think elaborate argument is required to demonstrate the inconsistency of such policy positions with the proposition that abortion should be a state issue, but this is pretty much the standard Republican position. While in some cases the federalism dodge may involve a simple error in judgment, when you simultaneously claim that abortion should be a state issue and favor federal abortion regulation I don’t think claims of dishonesty are particularly unfair. Ponnuru also claims that “there are good reasons to expect stalemate at the federal level.” This is probably true insofar as a flat-out ban on abortion is concerned, but 1)there are plenty of abortion regulations short of a ban which may have a chance of being passed (and some of which already have), and 2)such claims often involve the assumption that the abortion debate will displaced to the state level, which given that most opponents of Roe also favor (and logically should favor) federal abortion legislation is quite clearly false.
At any rate, I stand by both of my points: supporting federal “partial birth” abortion legislation is consistent with neither libertarianism nor leaving abortion as a state issue.
UPDATE: I was probably too generous to Paul above. As Tom points out, Paul has also sponsored legislation that would define the fetus as a “person” from the moment of conception. In other words, as long as the 14th Amendment remains in force Paul would make abortion first degree murder in all 50 states, and federal agents would also presumably have to routinely investigate miscarriages, etc. It remains unclear to me how this is consistent with the position that abortion should be left to the states.
This year has had its share of must-see films for people who care about reproductive justice. There was Knocked Up, of course, which pussy footed around the question of “shmashmortion.” And then there was 4 Months, 3 weeks, and 2 days, the “Romanian Abortion Film” that took top honors at Cannes this year. And, more recently, Tony Kaye’s Lake of Fire.
Seems like there is one more to add to the pile: Juno, a film about a high school student who gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption. Sounds like a message film sent from heaven to the religious right, huh?
Well, we may all be in for a surprise. The trailer seems funny as hell and…well…not what I was expecting when I heard the film described.
Anyone seen it or know more?
So I’d just like to state for the record that — unlike John Ashcroft, Glenn Reynolds and god knows how many other jackass wingnuts — I have absolutely no interest in being forcefully drowned by my own government.
But since these fine gentlemen seem to think the practice ranks somewhere between riding a golf cart into a brick wall and having one’s testicles zapped with a home defibrillator, I don’t see any reason why they should stop with mere boasting.
Man up, guys. Really.
I missed something I could have picked up from a simple glance at Wikipedia.
For the past five years, J. Philippe Rushton has been president of the Pioneer Fund, an organization dedicated to “the scientific study of heredity and human differences.” During this time, the fund has awarded at least $70,000 to the New Century Foundation. To get a flavor of what New Century stands for, check out its publications on crime (“Everyone knows that blacks are dangerous”) and heresy (“Unless whites shake off the teachings of racial orthodoxy they will cease to be a distinct people”). New Century publishes a magazine called American Renaissance, which preaches segregation. Rushton routinely speaks at its conferences.
I was negligent in failing to research and report this. I’m sorry. I owe you better than that.
“Hack” doesn’t really begin to cover it. Saletan sallied forth with the argument that the evidence for inherent intellectual inequality between races was so compelling that liberals who questioned the science were equivalent to creationists. Now we find that, in addition to not understanding most of the science he was trying to talk about, he didn’t even bother to do basic research into the compelling work he was citing.
I wanted to discuss whether egalitarianism could survive if this scenario, raised last month by James Watson, turned out to be true. I thought it was important to lay out the scenario’s plausibility. In doing so, I short-circuited the conversation. Most of the reaction to what I wrote has been over whether the genetic hypothesis is true, with me as an expert witness.
I don’t want this role. I’m not an expert.
Huh. So I guess that’s why Bill devoted two columns to stressing how strong the science was and how reluctant to accept the truth liberals were, and one column to a few half-assed ruminations about the political implications. And I guess that’s why he felt the need to write this missive to the liberal masses:
Evolution forced Christians to bend or break. They could insist on the Bible’s literal truth and deny the facts, as Bryan did. Or they could seek a subtler account of creation and human dignity. Today, the dilemma is yours. You can try to reconcile evidence of racial differences with a more sophisticated understanding of equality and opportunity. Or you can fight the evidence and hope it doesn’t break your faith.
I’m for reconciliation.
Yeah; I’m pretty strongly against reconciliation with someone who thought taunting liberals for not believing shoddy racist science was more important than doing basic journalistic research.
Seriously, what does somebody have to do to get fired from Slate?
It hit me the other day, and it was like, “Whoa—that’s so bizarre.” I was sitting at one of my pianos, working out some chords for my forthcoming album The Tepid Heart, when the wife asked me to pick up some diet soda. Since the staff was off (it was a Sunday), and the kids were due home from football practice soon, I said sure and drove down to the cornershop.
When I got there, the kid behind the counter had a tape playing that sounded oddly familiar. It wasn’t really my cup of tea—polyrhythmic and uptempo, with intense emotional energy and electrically amplified guitars instead of acoustic. And the kid was, to be honest, playing it a bit loud. But instead of being annoyed, I found it compelling in a weird sort of way. When I asked the kid who it was, he said he’d found it in a bag of stuff that used to belong to his older brother. “It’s old, but I like it,” he said. “It’s kind of reggae, but it sounds punk, too.”
Well, several weeks went by, but it kept nagging at me. Then, finally, last Thursday, I figured it out. I was in the den, watching some figure skating on TV and reading Parade. (Isn’t it funny how these things always hit you at the oddest times?) Anyway, there was an article about a policewoman who volunteers teaching schoolchildren about pet safety, when suddenly, it clicked: That kid was listening to Outlandos d’Amour, the first record by my old band, The Police!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wow… I haven’t thought about The Police in years.” And neither had I, but you know what? It sounds nothing like what you’d expect after hearing “Fields Of Gold.” At first, I thought, “Wait… Is this just my memory playing tricks on me? I mean, I recorded the love theme from The Three Musketeers with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart, for Christ’s sake. How cool could I possibly be?” But then I dusted off a bunch of the old LPs and, boy, was I amazed. Those records were actually pretty rockin’! You wouldn’t think that kind of stuff would come from me, but, hey, the opening track, “Next To You”? Come on! And the rest of the album, too: “So Lonely,” “Born In the ’50s,” and you’ve got to admit that “Sally Be My Girl” is one cool song. I was like, “Did I write this stuff? No way!”
Seems about right. I had forgotten about the Three Musketeers thing; I think it took George Harrison longer to write “Got My Mind Set on You“…
A good article by Sudhir Muralidhar that, rather than attempting to project wingnut aesthetic Stalinism onto the public, wonders if anti-war movies are flopping not because the public loves the war and loves George Bush but because they…seem awful?
How else to explain Lions for Lambs, the most inert, predictable, and unnecessary political film to come out this year? Directed by Redford, the movie turns on the choices of three pairs of characters: A Republican senator (Tom Cruise) and a journalist (Meryl Streep) called to interview him about a new war strategy, two idealistic college graduates recently enlisted in the Army and deployed in Afghanistan (Michael Pena and Derek Luke) to employ that strategy, and a young student disenchanted with the American political process (Andrew Garfield) who must defend his apathy to his liberal political science professor (Redford). Lions for Lambs attempts to distill the debacle of the Iraq War through these characters, to demonstrate how the American public’s (students’) disillusionment with our political process allowed Washington elites (politicians and journalists) to deceive the country and send bright, well-intentioned men (young soldiers on the frontlines) to their death.
Such unsubtle frameworks usually work better in theater than in cinema, and it’s no surprise that Lions for Lambs feels much less like a Hollywood movie than a well-financed play. Not a good play, mind you, but a play written by a precocious high school student who watches lots of CNN. Matthew Michael Carnahan, the screenwriter behind this dreck, litters his dialogue with allusions to Abu Ghraib and Iran’s nuclear program but does little more than reference these real-world events. Cruise’s slick Republican senator speaks about his new war strategy in such vague terms that one cannot help but wonder if Carnahan has ever heard a real policy speech or even read an article on the war that was longer than an entry on the Huffington Post.
As I mentioned elsewhere, descriptions of this film remind me of nothing to much as the nightmarishly atrocious post-9/11 episode of The West Wing. (I know, I know, we wrote it in 24 hours or something. The problem is, virtually all of Studio 60 consisted of the same kind of position-paper reading, although at least they didn’t literally lock students into a room while Sorkin preached at them.)
Muralidhar does seem a little more sympathetic to Redacted but concedes its aesthetic failures. I’ll just add that I’m amused by people are talking about a Brian DePalma movie flopping as if this proves something about the administration and the war. People must love Bush if nobody sees Redacted following the incredible box-office success of Mission to Mars and Femme Fatale!