The quickies archive. The newer quickiesMay 2005
They feel that when the president, the government and the mainstream opposition combine to trumpet the merits of something and to implicitly denounce its opponents as half-wits who have understood nothing, it is their moral duty to revolt.
Free-market economics is a “truth” Ted says he learned in his first job in professional Christendom, as a Bible smuggler in Eastern Europe. Globalization, he believes, is merely a vehicle for the spread of Christianity. He means Protestantism in particular; Catholics, he said, “constantly look back.” He went on: “And the nations dominated by Catholicism look back. They don’t tend to create our greatest entrepreneurs, inventors, research and development. Typically, Catholic nations aren’t shooting people into space. Protestantism, though, always looks to the future. A typical kid raised in Protestantism dreams about the future. A typical kid raised in Catholicism values and relishes the past, the saints, the history. That is one of the changes that is happening in America. In America the descendants of the Protestants, the Puritan descendants, we want to create a better future, and our speakers say that sort of thing. But with the influx of people from Mexico, they don’t tend to be the ones that go to universities and become our research-and-development people. And so in that way I see a little clash of civilizations.”Without even getting the deeper argument that we've been drawn into an Islamic civil war, it just scary to see the level of racism combined with the roots of using war as a form of divination. If the war between facts and faith is already settled for many Americans, then they can turn defeat into victory for a while. We were in Vietnam for 25 years after all. Their sights are set much higher and that fear of the Islamic state is merely cover for building an Evangelical State through "massive warfare." I fear that perpetual doubters like me will have a hard time in such a place.
So the Catholics are out, and the battle boils down to evangelicals versus Islam. “My fear,” he says, “is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state.”
And that is why he believes spiritual war requires a virile, worldly counterpart. “I teach a strong ideology of the use of power,” he says, “of military might, as a public service.” He is for preemptive war, because he believes the Bible’s exhortations against sin set for us a preemptive paradigm, and he is for ferocious war, because “the Bible’s bloody. There’s a lot about blood.”
"You had sex with animals?" Colmes asked, with regard to reports of Horsley's past experience with bestiality and homosexuality. "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."-Salon
When Colmes suggested that maybe that's not the case for everyone who grows up on a farm in Georgia, Horsley shot back, "It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from reality ... welcome to domestic life on the farm ... You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naïve…If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it."
Somewhere, there's a rope and tree with Sanders' name on it.This is by no means a manner of speech dominated by the right. In this Metafilter thread, I was shooked to see some vile comments on display towards creationists. They have been deleted by a moderator, but preserved within the thread here. The one that got to me was, "burn them all."
the Kurds have set their sights on Kirkuk, a multiethnic city that sits atop Iraq's vast northern oil fields. Even though the city lies outside of Kurdistan, Talabani calls it "the Jerusalem of Kurdistan," and Barzani says, "We are ready to fight and to sacrifice our souls to preserve its identity."I remember reading about Kirkuk in Samatha Power's A Problem from Hell as being a victim of Arabization and part of the Anfal Campaign against the Kurds. There's just so much history in this region that exists outside the knowledge of US officials in command positions, that I fear things will continue to get worse.
Fill in the blank: "Don't even talk to me about video games until you've beaten _____." What do you think? When Ninja Gaiden was released for the XBox, some people had said it was so hard that gamers would wear it as a badge when they beat it. So what are some other games that every gamer should try to take on? Not just difficult ones, classic games apply too.-Ask Metafilter
...By insisting on "keeping things civil," in polite society, repressive powers may suppress ugly truths about their conduct merely because raising them requires bad manners. I always thought it was a stroke of genius on the part of Robert McNamara to start crying at dinner parties in the late 1960s when someone raised the issue of Vietnam, as it pre-empted discussions of the deception and destruction for which he was responsible. Perhaps if McNamara had been confronted with some of the morally uncomfortable consequences of his policies, he might have worked harder to reverse them.I have only read Alterman here and there, but this whole article falls apart here and this is only the 2nd paragraph. I don't think I have a perfect grasp of McNamara's mental processes during his years as Secretary of Defense. The biggest glimpse of it came after watching Fog of War and the HBO film Path to War. From the later I got the impression that Norman R. Morrison setting himself on fire outside the Pentagon as McNamara watched. That and the weight of that dark wall of war dead as his legacy surely haunts him. You can see it in his eyes and in his voice, and I sense no subversion within that pain. So without liking the man, I still don't see any reason to for Eric to claim McNamara's tears are crocodile in nature. It seems to me, especially in this recent plea for a saner government nuclear policy that he's trying to fight those ghosts in any way he can.
Patients with severe epilepsy sometimes used to undergo an operation in which the corpus callosum was severed. (The idea was to keep a seizure from spreading from one side of the brain to the other.) After the operation, the two hemispheres of the brain could no longer directly communicate. Such patients typically resumed their normal lives without seeming to be any different. But under careful observation, they exhibited some very peculiar behavior. When, for example, the word ''hat'' was flashed to the left half of the visual field -- and hence to the right (speechless) side of the brain -- the left hand would pick out a hat from a group of concealed objects, even as the patient insisted that he had seen no word. If a picture of a naked woman was flashed to the left visual field of a male patient, he would smile, or maybe blush, without being able to say what he was reacting to...-Of Two Minds, by Jim Holt
Pondering such split-brain cases, some scientists and philosophers have raised a disquieting possibility: perhaps each of us really consists of two minds running in harness. In an intact brain, of course, the corpus callosum acts as a constant two-way internal-communications channel between the two hemispheres. So our everyday behavior does not betray the existence of two independent streams of consciousness flowing along within our skulls. It may be, the philosopher Thomas Nagel has written, that ''the ordinary, simple idea of a single person will come to seem quaint some day, when the complexities of the human control system become clearer and we become less certain that there is anything very important that we are one of.''
Iraq is slipping into the type of hell that knowledgeable people warned of before Bush blindly and obstinately decided to take out Saddam. Heady with the dreams of empire, Bush wanted to be known as a wartime president and the leader of the world and so he conspired with his henchmen and his good buddy Tony Blair to create the case for invading Iraq. What he has created is a horror show for our soldiers and a nightmare for the Iraqis.-Pacific Views
There is no end in sight for the occupation of Iraq. The President says we will stay until we're finished. A recent report by the Congressional Research Service concluded that the United States is probably building permanent military bases in Iraq. The President refuses to consider an exit strategy. The Republican Congress gives the President whatever he asks for. We can draw no clearer distinction with the President than over this war. He cannot right a wrong (unjustified war) by perpetuating a military occupation. Military victory there is not possible. General Tommy Franks concedes that. The war will end when we say it's over. The Democratic leadership should be pressing for quick withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.
This war is like a world heavy weight boxing champion rumbling down to kindergarten and beating up on the class bully. It’s like a shark eating a guppy. It’s like an elephant stepping on a fly. However, in this case, it’s like a man swallowing a scorpion. The scorpion will keep stinging from the inside until it kills the man.-Frosty Wooldridge
Notice each week more civilian contractors killed, U.S. soldiers dying from roadside bombs and suicide bombers blowing up people. The same thing happened in Vietnam. They didn’t give up for 10 years of being killed by the millions. They wouldn’t have given up for 100 years. The Iraqi insurgents are no less than Iraqi citizens who do not want nor will they ever give up to the American military.
Be honest with Congress and the American people. White House statements consistently misrepresented the situation in Vietnam. The most egregious example was the edifice of falsehood erected around the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, when American destroyers on a provocative intelligence mission were depicted as the innocent targets of North Vietnamese attacks.-Lessons learned from the Vietnam War, by Pat M. Holt
Don't be afraid to admit mistakes. It is easier to correct a policy when it is acknowledged to be a mistake than to pretend it doesn't exist. The Johnson and Nixon administrations kept insisting on their success in interdicting the Ho Chi Minh trail while the CIA was telling them that North Vietnamese supplies continued to get through to the southern Viet Cong guerrillas.
On the 22nd of December 2004, Kyle Van Horn taped a disposable camera to a piece of black foamcore and inscribed upon it the following message: "ATTENTION POSTAL WORKERS! Please help us with our project. As this camera travels across the country we want photos of all whom it encounters. Please take a photo before you pass it along. Thank you!"-The United States Postal Service workers abliged...
76.5% (159 million) of Americans identify themselves as Christian. This is a major slide from 86.2% in 1990. Identification with Christianity has suffered a loss of 9.7 percentage points in 11 years -- about 0.9 percentage points per year. This decline is identical to that observed in Canada between 1981 and 2001. If this trend continues, then by about the year 2042, non-Christians will outnumber the Christians in the U.S.-Religious Tolerance
Although Christians comprise the vast majority of the nation's citizens and voters, America is becoming increasingly un-Christian and even anti-Christian with every passing year – from its culture, to its laws, its public education system, its news media and most other major institutions. Whether the battlefield is abortion or "gay rights," public prayer or euthanasia, most of the fights are being won by the bad guys. Why?-WND
The American Civil Liberties Union is engaged in a long-term, relentless and well-funded campaign to remove every vestige of Christian expression from America's government, schools and public property.Yes, they had the audacity to READ the separation clause in the Constitution and have actively sought to uphold it. But that's not the really "bad" part. Whenever they win lawsuits, they use that money to fund future lawsuits and since they are suing the govenment it is your tax dollars that they are using! Shock! Horror! Shock! Shock! Horror! OMG! I see the LIGHT! This is "extortion" and it "is destroying America!"
Coulter criticized liberals for undemocratic reactions to the Iraq war and the president's judicial appointments.-Vulgar heckler arrested at Ann Coulter speech, WND
"They're always trying to act like they're oppressed," she said. "So let's do it. Let's oppress them."
The paper said one student asked Coulter why universities and institutions invite her even though she "advocates terrorism against liberals."
Coulter pointed to her book sales, with four New York Times best-sellers.
[After a student was kicked out for many lewd comments and gestures]
"I'm just amazed by how they can use these tactics and feel like they're getting anywhere," a woman attending the event told Limbaugh. "I was very turned off by it."
Limbaugh responded: "This was nothing more than a bunch of liberals that can't argue with her, that can't defeat her, can't pretend to play along with her in the arena of ideas. It's a typical liberal tactic – shut it down. If you don't agree with it, you don't want to hear it. And you don't want to hear it, you make sure somebody doesn't say it. And if somebody is gonna come say it, then you come make 'em pay a price for saying it. ...
"Isn't it interesting the left fears words more than anything else? They fear words, they fear the U.S. military. Here you have Saddam Hussein – 300,000 to a million people dead and buried in mass graves, rape rooms, torture – that doesn't bother them at all. But what we say about cleaning that situation up scares the ever-living daylights out of them. ... They know they're losing. They know they're in the minority."
One of the central characteristics of the Bush presidency is a profound commitment to theoretical notions, nurtured in think tanks and ideological magazines, and a relentless -- yes, even principled -- commitment to pushing them regardless of the facts or the consequences.I don't see how this makes him an egghead. An egghead is a boring, baldheaded intellectual. I'm more qualified than Bush.
Several intriguing behavioral studies add to the evidence that some sex differences in the brain arise before a baby draws its first breath.-SA [metafilter has more links]
On mission along the border of Chad and Darfur, Human Rights Watch researchers gave children notebooks and crayons to keep them occupied while they spoke with the children’s parents. Without any instruction or guidance, the children drew scenes from their experiences of the war in Darfur: the attacks by the Janjaweed, the bombings by Sudanese government forces, the shootings, the burning of entire villages, and the flight to Chad.-HRW
The U.S. military plans to allow regional combatant commanders to request the president for approval to carry out preemptive nuclear strikes against possible attacks on the United States or its allies with weapons of mass destruction, according to a draft new nuclear operations paper. . .-Kyodo
A large anti-nuclear rally in New York calls for global nuclear disarmament ahead of a United Nations meeting to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We speak with the mayor of Hiroshima - where 60 years ago the U.S. dropped one of two atomic bombs.-Democracy Now! [another interview from Metafilter]
TADATOSHI AKIBA: Well, NPT, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is the only international treaty that binds the hands of the nuclear weapon powers. In Article VI, although it is a very mild clause, that’s the only international document which says that these countries must work very hard toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. And therefore, it is very significant, and we would like to strengthen this treaty so that by the year 2020 all nuclear weapons will be abolished. And that’s the wish of hibakusha, Japanese word for the survivors of the atomic bomb. And that’s why we’re here. Oh, by the way, the mayors -- international mayors are here. At least a hundred mayors and city representatives are here to press the United Nations, representing the voices of millions of citizens around the world, and we are here to represent their voices, because that’s the majority opinion in the world.
AMY GOODMAN: What about this latest news? On Saturday, Iran declaring it might end its voluntary halt on enriching uranium and resuming producing nuclear fuel, and then what happened with North Korea?
TADATOSHI AKIBA: Okay, I’m glad that you bring that subject up, because we don’t want to be taken as simply criticizing the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and India, Pakistan. Those countries possess nuclear weapons. Those countries have done all those things, and we have been opposing this because our aim is to eliminate all nuclear weapons, and according to the hibakusha, as long as there are nuclear weapons, that there will be a nuclear war, and then some people will have to suffer the way they did. And that’s exactly what they wanted to avoid. Therefore, what we are calling for is that all countries should not be allowed to do that, and I think the leaders of the world should show to the rest of the world by example that these are not the kinds of things which civilized society should be engaged in. And therefore, we are calling for a universal nuclear weapons convention which prohibits all those activities, and not by just Iran, North Korea, or a few other countries, but all of the countries, including the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the significance of North Korea launching a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Sunday? You’re from Japan.
TADATOSHI AKIBA: Well, I think that people will be voicing some alarm, because it’s Japan Sea, but then again, there are – well, I don’t know exactly how many, but numerous number of missiles all over the world, which are on ‘Launch on Warning’ status, with nuclear warheads, and we are concerned about that because once that is shot, then the entire human race is at jeopardy, and we have been calling that all those systems should be dismantled, and I believe that as part of that picture, showing that one can shoot missiles with or without nuclear weapons and trying to threaten the world with that is just intolerable. But I think that we should look at the whole picture. There are missiles which are aimed at, you know, just many, many cities in the world with nuclear warheads right now, and a false warning at this moment could make those missiles be shot at any moment.
For well over half a century, Salvador Dalí has been internationally famous for the sexy and deranged subject matter of his paintings, for his personal nuttiness, flamboyance, and grandiosity, and for the demoralizing way in which he destroyed the borders between creativity and commercial self-promotion. He was a huge character; indeed, he often said, in that simultaneously boastful, cynical, and self-deprecating manner that he perfected, that it was his "personality" that was his greatest achievement. At other times he might announce to the world that his writing was his real achievement, and his painting the "least" of him. Yet what is most solid and substantial about Dalí is very specific and not wildly complex qualities: the particular gleaming surfaces of his paintings, with their often large areas of a single, pulsating color; his feeling for the transient, soft light of dawn or dusk and for the brilliantly hard light of a sunny summer afternoon by the Mediterranean; and his astounding ability to delineate and make us feel the simmering strength in tiny, tightly wound concentrations of lines, dots, or shapes.-NYRB
When More's zealous son-in-law proposed that he would cut down any law in England that served as an obstacle to his hot pursuit of the devil, More replied: "And when the last law was cut down and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast-man's laws, not God's -- and if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?"Al Gore's recent speech on judges and the rule of law.
The Senate leaders remind me of More's son-in-law. They are now proposing to cut down a rule that has stood for more than two centuries as a protection for unlimited debate. It has been used for devilish purposes on occasion in American history, but far more frequently, it has been used to protect the right of a minority to make its case.
Indeed it has often been cited as a model for other nations struggling to reconcile the majoritarian features of democracy with a respectful constitutional role for minority rights. Ironically, a Republican freshman Senator who supports the party-line opposition to the filibuster here at home, recently returned from Iraq with an inspiring story about the formation of multi-ethnic democracy there. Reporting that he asked a Kurdish leader there if he worried that the majority Shiites would "overrun" the minority Kurds, this Senator said the Kurdish leader responded "oh no, we have a secret weapon.... [the] filibuster."
Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.-Alabama's shame
"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."
But in book after book, Allen reads what he calls the "homosexual agenda," and he's alarmed.
"It's not healthy for America, it doesn't fit what we stand for," says Allen. "And they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal."
And I do think, Mrs. Bush, that there was some divine guidance in the president being elected. I do.-Rudy Giuliani on Bush regarding 9/11/2001. Wow. I guess I never knew how far Giuliani's brown nose went.
A quagmire (from "quake" + "mire") is, literally, shaky, miry ground; as a political term used to describe a foreign military campaign in which there is either no foreseeable possibility of victory or the objectives are unclearly defined, and at the same time no clear exit strategy has been formulated in the absence of victory. The military campaign is likened to a kind of swamp or marsh in which the warring nation is unable to remove itself. Typically, a quagmire occurs when a major power attempts with little success to subdue a foreign guerrilla insurgency. Often matters of national pride or belief in military invincibility are the cause of the lack of an exit strategy. It is often humorously suggested that the best way to resolve the military impasse associated with a quagmire is to simply "declare victory and go home."-Wikipedia
Thank you, soldiers of the United States of America and soldiers of her allies. Thank you our true friends. Thanks to all your sacrifices that delivered us from the darkness of Saddam to the light of freedom, elections and democracy.- Hashim Al-Sudani
We shall never ever, forget what you have given us, liberators
The enemy is escalating his attacks. He is trying very hard to spark the sectarian war that he desperately needs. Rwandan Style genocidal atrocities seem to be the order of the day. Bodies are floating down the river. There are mutilated bodies of women and children to be found, not to mention the daily car bombs and assassinations and killings that have increased markedly. What is needed is firm response. Self defense of the majority of the Iraqi people justify preemptive measures. Diplomatic and soft talk and measures are not going to get us anywhere. The elected political entities are doing their utmost to form a “national unity government”. I fear this is only taken advantage of by the personalities who in fact represent the overt political face of the terrorists. Of course, not all Sunni people are terrorists, but all terrorists at the moment happen to be Sunnis. The Zarqawis of this world are feverishly attempting to implement their diabolical plans. They are exposing their incredible callousness and cruelty and suicidal frame of mind to the whole world. The question that all sane people everywhere must ask themselves: What if these people really do get hold of some terrible WMD and find the means to deliver it to some American or any other target, and it seems that the entire humanity is their enemy and target?-Alaa (here and here)
Until the central government is strong enough to send forces to fully control areas such as the Western Anbar, and even parts of Baghdad and elsewhere, there will be no real peace. Let us hope that the soon to be formed government will have sufficient backbone to accomplish what is required.
HOWARD ZINN:...I don't believe in neutrality. I believe neutrality is impossible, because the world is already moving in certain directions. Wars are going on. Children are starving. And to be neutral, to pretend to neutrality, to not take a stand in a situation like that is to collaborate with whatever is going on, to allow it to happen. I did not want to be a collaborator with what was happening. I wanted to enter into history....I wanted us to intercede. I wanted my history to intercede and to take a stand on behalf of peace, on behalf of a racial equality or sexual equality, and so I wanted my students to know that right from the beginning, know you can’t be neutral on a moving train.-Howard Zinn on Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN: Were your surprised by the election of President Bush, November 2004?
HOWARD ZINN: A little. A little. That is, I thought that maybe by then, perhaps there would be enough understanding about the deception, the hypocrisy of the US government, just enough to dethrone Bush, but I say only a little surprised, because on the other hand, I knew that John Kerry was not the candidate to represent the feelings of the American people. By then, by the time of the election, at least half of the American people were already against the war. Now they faced an election where 100% of the candidates were for the war. So, they had nobody to vote for. And so I -- with nobody to vote for, with no real alternative, of course, 40% of the voting population did not vote. And people ought to remember this. You know, Bush did not win overwhelmingly. You know, he won by one or two percentage points. And if you consider how many people voted for him against the voting population, you know, he got, you know, maybe 30% of the voting population. But it was a commentary on the pitiful showing of the Democratic Party, its failure to be a true opposition party in this country, and I think maybe a wake-up call to Americans to try to create a new political alternative to a political system that is really a one-party system, and it is quite corrupt.
WHICH AMERICAN political party best reflects the views of a majority of citizens on the Iraq war, environmental issues, health care, campaign financing, population growth, genetically modified foods, and marijuana use?-Sam Smith
The answer, based on various polls, is the Green Party.
That you may not be aware of this points to a problem with American journalism far more important than plagiarism, blogs, or Fox News, namely that our media - for all its professed objectivity - is stunningly biased towards the views of the American elite and particularly those who buy space in their papers or time on their channels.
Al-Sadr's men appear intent on enforcing a strict interpretation of Islamic law. His militia beat a group of students because they had a picnic at which men and women danced together at Basra University last month. In a similar incident this week, a group of male and female students at Baghdad's Rafidain College, near the entrance of Sadr City, were accosted by about 10 men wielding AK47s and sticks.-Detroit Free Press
The men admonished female students for not wearing the hijab, the traditional Muslim head scarf. Then, according to witnesses, they looked at a group of women sitting with men and yelled: "Aren't you ashamed of sitting next to a man? If we come again and see you like this, we will kill you and hang your bodies."
The marked increase in the number of women wearing head scarves these days is only the most outwardly visible sign of the creeping Islamization of society that has already taken place since the U.S. invasion, leaving many women living under a de facto form of Islamic rule, she said.-The Chicago Tribune
"There are armed men everywhere. If you go without the protection of the scarf, they can stop you and you may get assaulted," Mohammed said. "And there's pressure from husbands and fathers. Being good and chaste means you put a veil on. They tell you it's voluntary, but how can it be voluntary when there's that much pressure on you?"
According to yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Venezuela will be raising its tax rate on private oil firms, which produce 40% of Venezuel's oil, from 34% to the standard income tax rate of 50%.-Empire Notes
Last year, the government increased the royalty rate on several heavy oil projects conducted by ExxonMobil in the Orinoco belt from 1% (an ultralow rate to get ExxonMobil to do the major upfront investment needed) to 16.6% (a pretty typical royalty rate in the early days of colonial oil concessions and in the post-nationalization days of neocolonial oil concessions). ExxonMobil is paying the new rate under protest.
According to the Journal, "Venezuela is seeking to increase revenue to fund social programs ranging from adult-literacy and job-training programs to subsidized food prices at a state-run grocery chain, now the country's largest."
The London Review of Books lands on my doormat twice a month, and is packed with erudite and entertaining essays. But I suspect I am not the only subscriber who turns to the remarkable personals section first.-Metafilter
Competition gave rise to the robber fly, to trap-weaving tree ants, an ‘homosexual’ fungus, robot jockeys, logic-checking software, and to custom-made brass knuckles.-Metafilter
Actually, it’s not so difficult, I’ve discovered. All the someone in question has to do is begin thinking differently from me about a few important matters, and in no time I find that his qualities have subtly metamorphosed. His abundance of colorful anecdotes now looks like incessant and ingenious self-promotion. His marvelous copiousness and fluency strike me as mere mellifluous facility and mechanical prolixity. A prose style I thought deliciously suave and sinuous I now find preening and overelaborate. His fearless cheekiness has become truculent bravado; his namedropping has gone from endearing foible to excruciating tic; his extraordinary dialectical agility seems like resourceful and unscrupulous sophistry; his entertaining literary asides like garrulousness and vulgar display; his bracing contrariness, tiresome perversity. Strange, this alteration of perspective; and even stranger, it sometimes occurs to me that if he changed his opinions again and agreed with me, all his qualities would once more reverse polarity and appear in their original splendor. A very instructive experience, epistemologically speaking.-George Scialabba on Hitchens (talked about here)
Howard Dean Supports Bush on Iraq-Democracy Now! Also, "Should U.S. Troops Withdraw Now From Iraq? A Debate Between Naomi Klein & Erik Gustafson"
The chair of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean has come out in support of President Bush"s current Iraq policy. In a speech earlier this week in Minnesota, Dean said, "The president has created an enormous security problem for the United States where none existed before. But I hope the president is incredibly successful with his policy now that he's there." Dean said a US pullout could endanger the United States in three ways: By leaving a Shiite theocracy worse than that in Iran; by creating an independent Kurdistan in the north, with destabilizing effects on neighboring Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iran and Syria, and by making the so-called Sunni Triangle a magnet for what Dean called Islamic terrorists similar to the former Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Dean was portrayed as an antiwar candidate in the media during the 2004 presidential race.
Do you have a motorbike? Do you have tickets for the next week’s concert? Do you have FECs [foreign exchange credits]. Can you take a woman into a hotel where foreigners stay? … Your year’s salary isn’t enough to buy one pair of Italian shoes. … Not everyone can see things like you do. But if I could write, I’m sure I’d be a better writer than you. I know about the real world. You just write in order to fill your inner void, you have no experiences to draw from. You see life in terms of tragedy and myth. You are obsessed by your fear of death. But death is something everyone has to go through, there’s nothing particularly interesting about it.
Manners determine not so much what is right and wrong as what is seemly and unseemly: what is and is not decorous or appropriate. Consider the latest bestseller from Princeton University Press by a philosopher named Harry Frankfurt. It's called "On Bull----"--well, many American newspapers, including this one, forbear to print the word, but you know what it is. Even the New York Times, whose lifestyle sections celebrate all manner of "transgressive" habits in detail, can't bring itself to spell out the book's title on its bestseller list. Why the hesitation? Mr. Podsnap, in Charles Dickens's "Our Mutual Friend," is always worried about bringing a blush to the cheek of a young person. Is it an American version of Podsnappery that prevents papers from printing a word that has long since passed into general conversation? The British must think so, for they have no scruple about printing it, gushing about Mr. Frankfurt's book in major papers. The book, quoth the Times of London, is "a testament for our times." They might be right. Should we be pleased? As it happens, there is something of a bull market in Mr. Frankfurt's subject at the moment. We can all look forward this August to "Your Call Is Important to Us: The Truth About Bull----" by Laura Penny, a Canadian professor who also wants to give a low-down subject a high intellectual gloss. The titles of both books bear witness to an academic trend, one that furthers the coarsening of cultural life that Burke warned about. They are, to be sure, small things, relatively innocent as book titles go. We live at a time, after all, when MIT Press--a publishing house with an eminently austere list--can publish a book called "History of S---." In 2002, the academic journal Criticism wrote admiringly of this work: "[It] indulges an array of scatological impulses to demonstrate the ways in which the history of the 'State,' the history of modern subjectivity, and to a certain extent, the history of history are entangled in wonderful and horrible ways with the history of the fundamental fundament." A few years before, Johns Hopkins published "The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator and Women's Sexual Satisfaction," the film rights for which have been sold.-On Academic Celebrity, by Roger Kimball