From now on, I’ll be outsourcing all Mickey Kaus bashing to Andrew Sullivan.
I haven’t minded the more atomic structure of Veronica Mars season 3. While watching the first and second seasons, I thought that many of the linkages between episodes felt contrived, especially in the second. The plot in season 3, while less integral to each episode, seemed to flow a lot more naturally. Indeed, the weakest episdoes this season have been the most plot heavy. Really, who didn’t realize that a) the evil grad student had murdered the Dean, and b) that he would reveal himself to Veronica through the class discussion? It was telegraphed, and genuinely weak. Then again, I think that every season finale has been weak. I’m reminded of a critique I heard of Ocean’s Twelve. It’s interesting enough to see how the caper was pulled off, but the revelation didn’t proceed organically; we couldn’t figure out that they had already stolen the egg until Soderbergh decided to show us the secret stuff that we couldn’t have known about before. Unlike a good mystery, we couldn’t figure things out on our own. It’s been the same way with VM; the season finale has tied everything together, but twisted the plotting such that the season as a whole doesn’t naturally lead up to the conclusion.
Far more troubling is that the depiction of student groups comes straight out of PCU. I understand that a television show has to have conflict, and that one as complex as Veronica Mars needs to have some intrigue, but I’m pretty sure that the number of campus feminist groups that decide to stage rapes of their members is close to zero. And after the dour, humourless feminists come the almost as dour animal rights activists…
It’s remarkable that, even with all of these flaws, the show remains watchable. Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni are so good (and so good with each other) that I’m willing to ignore the problems and just enjoy myself.
… to be sure, I don’t mean to say that I prefer season 3 to either season 1 or season 2; season 3 is weak, but the atomic structure isn’t the real problem. It has more, I think, to do with the clumsiness of the move from high school to college, a move that very few shows have accomplished successfully.
Matt is right about this. Now, it must be said that when it comes to a candidate’s personal “family values” I’m strictly of the “Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids” school. Personally, while there are many good reasons not to want Rudy to be president, the fact that he’s a jerk and bad husband and bad father is not, to me, one of them. You may remember this from the “Liberals should like Sam Alito because he’s nice to his wife and likes baseball” routine. George W. Bush is a much better husband and father than FDR or LBJ were, William Rehnquist a much nicer person than William Douglas, and so on and so on and so on. If it’s not entirely accurate to say that there’s no relationship between being a nice person and being a good president (or Supreme Court Justice or whatever), certainly the correlation is weak enough that you’d be crazy to put any real weight on it. When assessing candidates, “character” is bascially a Latin word meaning “bullshit.”
Having said all this, though, you can’t have it both ways. Either the fact that you’re a family man matters, or it doesn’t. Giuliani can’t use his family as a campaign prop and then squeal about his “privacy” when the rather more unpleasant aspects of his domestic life come to light. If he thought it mattered that he was a good husband and father, then it’s fair game for people to bring up the fact that he isn’t.
It’s about time for the third annual Lawyers, Guns and Money Tournament Challenge. As is tradition, winner gets a free lifetime subscription to LGM, and a Certificate of Championship-ness, suitable for framing. Here are the details:
ESPN Tournament Challenge
Group Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
God knows there’s no shortage of Bush administration perpetrated outrages, the worst of which involve people dying hellish deaths. And so from that perspective this one may seem minor. But it’s important: it’s going to be up to the historians to tell the full story of just what the hell these lunatics in the White House were up to while in office. But who can doubt that the last thing Bush will ever want is a thorough investigation of his record?
President George W. Bush’s 2001 executive order restricted the release of presidential records by giving sitting presidents the power to delay the release of papers indefinitely, while extending the control of former presidents, vice presidents and their families. It also changed the system from one that automatically released documents 30 days after a current or former president is notified to one that withholds papers until a president specifically permits their release.
Today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to discuss a new bill that would overturn Mr. Bush’s order, said a committee spokeswoman, Karen Lightfoot. The sponsors, who include the committee chairman, Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, hope to bring the bill to the floor of the House next week.
Allen Weinstein, the archivist of the United States, said yesterday that the order was not being used to prevent presidential papers from reaching the public, but that obviously “it has been increasing the time and delays, which are endemic.” The backlog of requests for documents now extends up to five years.
This story is also just a beautiful microcosm of how the Bushites do business. Look at this:
“There was a fair, reasonable, orderly, clear, sensible and workable process for presidential records in place during the 1990s,” which Mr. Bush’s executive order “overturned and replaced with the opposite,” Mr. Blanton testified. It “is not just wrong, it’s stupid.”
The 1978 Presidential Records Act, part of the post-Watergate reforms, clearly gave the American public ownership of presidential papers, said the historian Robert Dallek, whose latest book, “Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power,” is being published next month. But Mr. Bush’s executive order, he said, has had the effect of returning ownership to presidents and their heirs.
The transference of public property to private hands, the obsession with secrecy, the creation of a huge giant mess that someone else will have to clean up, the totally reckless lack of concern for the consequences of one’s actions… hold on, I think I’ve heard this story before.
“It’s not just wrong, it’s stupid.” Pithy.
(Also at Whiskey Fire)
The latest post on his health problems is kind of scary. And while other people have been keeping his blog going since he’s been sick, it just isn’t the same.
I don’t much care, really, if Scooter Libby is pardoned or not; while he certainly deserves it, there’s no particular good that will come of his actually going to jail. But when people talk about it, I’d really like them to recognize what a pardon means: it’s Bush saying: “Yes, Libby’s a felon. He lied to investigators to block their investigation of a crime. But it was a crime I ordered, and he was working for me — either acting directly under orders, or at least trying to protect the political interests of my administration. I’ve got the power to protect my people from the consequences of the criminal things they do in my service, and I’m exercising it.”
That’s what all of this “he was a fall guy” sympathy for Libby that makes a pardon look reasonable is — it’s not that what he did wasn’t criminal, it’s that he was acting on behalf of his superiors, and it seems unjust that he should suffer for it. And a pardon confirms that: if Libby were acting criminally on his own behalf, there’d be no reason to pardon him. By pardoning him, Bush takes ownership of Libby’s crime. (also at Unfogged.)
Recently, I wondered about the reliability of Glenn Reynolds’s claim–invoked yet again–that Talleyrand 1)said that “you can do anything with bayonets, except sit on them,” and 2)that he actually meant this as an endorsement of the Green Lantern Theory Of Geopolitics. Jim Henley answers:
What bayonets are genuinely good for is stabbing people and threatening them, unless they’ve got a bayonet and a longer reach or, worse yet, ammo. The thing is, stabbing people and threatening them is a very tiny subset of all possible human actions and interactions. The internets are not good for getting the full context of Talleyrand’s remarks, but he appears to have meant it as a caution against overreliance on military power. He was foreign minister of a government conceived in high ideals, birthed in terror and ruined, at the end, by the conviction that attacking, and attacking first, was the only appropriate response to every foreign risk. In his own way, Talleyrand himself was trying to point out how little bayonets are good for. He was talking to Napoleon, but he might have been talking to Glenn Reynolds, albeit no more successfully.
This isn’t surprising. But, at any rate, it’s all beside the point; even if Talleyrand did mean that military force can accomplish anything, it means that Talleyrand once made an exceptionally stupid argument, as the Iraq War is demonstrating so tragically.
She’s mad. What else can you say?
So let’s take Althouse’s wrongheadedness as demonstrated. I’d instead like to highlight the more surreal aspect of the affair.
Althouse, in all seriousness, or what passes for it at her site, contrasts the appalling treatment she’s received online to that received by these law students. Here is her account of how she has suffered:
There is a popular blog where that [being name-stolen in a comically obvious fashion, with no intent to deceive anyone as to the commenter's identity as not-really-Althouse, in the comments section of a comedy blog] is done to me in the comments and openly encouraged. As I noted here, the blogger in question flatly refused to do anything about it….
Lindsay Beyerstein is more upset than I am about the fact that there is a lot of loose talk about peopleon the internet — though presumably not about the dumb, loose talk about me on her own site. She fails to reveal what repressive remedies she has in mind to keep the internet from chattering. But I hope she’ll at least do that “more speech” thing and condemn that blog where they impersonate me all the time — or does she think I deserve it?
(This is all to do with this thing on Sadly No.)
And here’s Jill on what happened to her:
I’ve written about AutoAdmit before, when I found out that they were posting numerous pictures of me, making comments about raping and hate-fucking me, and debating whether or not I was fuckable or a stupid fat bitch.
Like I said, Althouse is simply mad.
Oh, no wait, her blog is “performance art.” Which is really just the polite way of saying “you are doing something strange and disturbing and I would prefer not to look at it anymore, thank you very much.”
The House passed the Employee Free Choice Act last week, which if signed into law will allow workers to organize when over 50% of a workforce signs cards indicating that they support the formation of a union (“card check”), without the subsequent NLRB sponsored secret ballot election that employers are now entitled to demand.
Like pretty much everyone else who generally supports the labor movement, I think this is a wonderful idea (I doubt it’ll make it through the Senate, and if it does it’ll be vetoed, but it’s the right thing to do.) NLRB elections are a long drawn out process that provide scope for employers to intimidate workers and illegally fire organizers — under these circumstances organizing becomes next thing to impossible. The card check process, on the other hand, is simple, fast, and much less easily manipulated — it gives unions a fair shot. If anything’s going to reverse the decline in private-sector union membership, card check organization is it.
The reaction from those who are less enthusiastically pro-labor, on the other hand, has been between dubious and hostile. The problem they see with card check organization is the danger that workers will be intimidated into signing cards for fear of violent retaliation from organizers if they refuse. One response to this is that in the US today, intimidation by management is a significant problem, and intimidation by unions really isn’t, as demonstrated by a study that’s been going around showing that there’s less intimidation fom union organizers than from management under any circumstances, and less intimidation from either union organizers or management in card check elections than in NLRB secret ballot elections. The response has been (and it’s a fair one) that it’s one smallish study, and by itself doesn’t say much.
A better response, I think, to concerns that workers will be violently intimidated by organizers to sign up with a union is that card check is the law right now. Any organizing campaign now has to go through the card check stage before the workers are entitled to a secret ballot election, and failure at that stage is fatal to the campaign. So organizers now have the same motive and opportunity for violent intimidation that they would under the EFCA scheme — the signed cards are a sine qua non for a successful organizing campaign, and the organizers know exactly who has signed. Any violent intimidation to be expected under the new regime should already be happening now, at pretty much the same level of intensity you’d expect under the new regime — secret ballot elections would have fewer successful unions, but they wouldn’t be likely to involve less union-sponsored violence.
Now, I’m not going to commit myself to the position that there has never been violent intimidation of workers by union organizers, but I will say that I haven’t seen reporting on it in the couple of decades I’ve been following labor news. Whatever union sponsored violence in organizing campaigns goes on now, it appears to be infrequent enough that law enforcement is completely on top of it; given that the EFCA should reduce management intimidation without having any significant reason to increase union intimidation, then, I’d consider it an unmixed good. (Also at Unfogged.)