Friday, June 8, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to James Darren, 76. Couldn't help making him the birthday guy; I'm obviously, as you'll see below, in a DS9 mood today.

But first how about some good stuff:

1. Via Drezner, a new group blog by comparativists focusing on violence. Looks excellent. For a taste, here's Erica Chenoweth on whether the Arab Spring will result in democratization.

2. Another explanation for why we really should ignore exit polls if what we want to know is who is going to win, this one from Molly Ball.

3. Ezra Klein has a nice post looking into the GOP rhetoric on entitlements, taxes, and compromise -- courtesy of Rand Paul.

4. Ed Kilgore on the decline of conservative think tanks.

5. And I'm not sure who bounced me around the interwebs to find this review of Wrath of Khan (might have been Drezner, too, come to think of it) but while Meredith Borders is surely correct that it's a terrific movie, I don't understand how you can write a review of that one without mentioning just how terrible Bibi Besch is as Carol Marcus. Must rival poor Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) for worst-ever performance in a Star Trek, no? Is there a generally accepted top 5 bad performances in a Star Trek? No fair including the people of Vaal -- I think that's how they're supposed to act.


  1. Is there a generally accepted top 5 bad performances in a Star Trek? No fair including the people of Vaal -- I think that's how they're supposed to act.

    I guess we have to make the same exception for Shatner, then?

    1. @Jeff -- I don't think we can be friends anymore.

    2. But I meant that -- in! A friendly. Way.

    3. 1. As a fast-talker sometimes troubled by the womanly habit of ending all sentences with a question mark, I have the greatest respect for anyone willing to wait long enough for the audience to get their punch lines before moving on to the next joke.

      2. The scientist who maintained the creature that kept killing everyone to take their salt, because it was the last of its species? Meant it in a friendly way too.

      3. (Can you tell it is a grading day?)

    4. Can you tell it is a grading day?

      You're showing remarkable restraint. Grading usually doubled or tripled my output of blog comments, as I cast about desperately for some way to keep putting it off.

    5. Well, but these are really fun papers! My kids each picked their own topic, and a lot of them put in an incredible amount of thought, which is of course really rewarding for me to see.

      On the other hand, how do you compare an analysis of Descartes's use of ontological arguments for the existence of God, with an exploration of the value of free will, with a defense of stand-your-ground laws (all good papers)? Oh, and seven papers on abortion, for some reason.

    6. actually it is a huge lie that that is why I am not commenting more, the real answer certainly involves a certain two beautiful but(?) mischievous Siamese cats

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. Oh, and seven papers on abortion, for some reason.

      Because abortion is an inevitable inclusion in all the "issues" readers they've had foisted on them in English classes since high school.

  2. Speaking of the decline of conservative think tanks, great review of David Frum's book:

  3. Whoopi. Kinda good sometimes... kinda bad sometimes.

    Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman always turned me off. Although I haven't seen the original cut.

    Otherwise, TOS had good quality control: the smaller and guest roles were uniformly efficient and effective. Teri Garr. Rowwrr.

    TNG was also solid in the secondary roles, except for the seemingly endless stream of lame "new worlds" in Season 1. On the whole, mediocre art direction, costuming, and acting that year.

    Jennifer Lien as Kes in Voyager: not a fan. But Rain Robinson more than made up for that.

    I know there are a few other candidates, but overall I think there are just a bunch of throwaway or nondescript roles that don't rise to the level of BAD.

  4. On Klein:

    "The Republicans have dedicated themselves, in other words, to a policy project that immediately and mechanically suggests higher taxes as part of a solution."

    Everything immediately and mechanically recommends higher taxes to Klein. Taking more money away from people should be one of the last solutions of a civilized people. It's pointing guns. It's coercion. It shouldn't be the go to solution for any but pirates.

  5. On Kilgore:

    "Even after attending a terrifying lecture at Heritage in 1997 by the late Richard John Nuehaus, who in that chilling voice of his urged his well-fed bourgeois listeners to contemplate the need for a revolutionary insurrection against the “regime” that allowed legalized abortion and equal rights for gay folks"

    In a piece whining about incivility.

    Breitbart became a superstar because in our society being racist is touted as the highest evil (as long as it's coming from non-Hispanic whites.) So when Carson made his outrageous lies which were transcribed and inflated by journolists, Breitbart simply grabbed the low-hanging fruit. He went head on at the worst elements of the Dem party: white-hating black activists and the CBC. If Dems want to de-escalate they need to police the disgusting race-baiters, Marxists, ethically challenged, and criminal elements of their own party (Maxine Waters for Frank's seat?) instead of laughing along with them.

    But don't. Just continue as you are and watch how a bunch of capitalist, calm, civic-minded whites turn into a people: assertive, political, vote-crazy, competent, and organized. Because politics is such a great way to handle our differences!

    1. Continuing Kilgore:

      This is what I'm talking about. For Dems, there is no Macaca Moment when the speaker is AA, which is why its going to be Breitbart 24/7 until the heat death of the universe:

      Displays like this could easily get this guy into the CBC! Kidding. The only turnover in that body is via the mortuary.

    2. backyard, I'm sure some of my comrades here on this site think I should stop engaging you in hopes you'll just go away. They haven't persuaded me yet, but you really do need better material than this if you're going to make serious arguments. I will fisk this one for you, but I can't do it every time because I do have a life. So really, start coming up with something better or expect to be ignored.

      So, OK, this once:

      1. The post you linked to identifies the speaker at the Wisconsin rally as an "AFSCME boss," as if he were the second coming of Samuel Gompers. He is the president of a local with 700 members. Union local presidents, including AFSCME's, are elected for one-year terms. This is not some kind of spokesman for the national or even the Wisconsin labor movement. He is so little known that the guy who introduces him isn't even sure who's up next and has to read his name off a clipboard.

      2. That said, his speech is magnanimous at several points, as even the the blogger acknowledges. Parts of it are explicit appeals for coming together and rejecting hate -- which is what the speaker believes is motivating some of the policies he's against. He may be wrong, but that's his political analysis. He may also be right.

      3. Most of the rest of the speech is directed against Gov. Scott Walker, the chief public policymaker of Wisconsin. Criticizing governors and policymakers is what political speech is all about.

      4. The post accuses the speaker, in making his analysis, of putting words in his opponents' mouths. Ohmigosh, a political speaker making claims about his opponents' motives?! Good thing Republican and conservative leaders don't do that, or we'd have Romney, for example, suggesting that the Obama administration deliberately weakened the economy to get health care passed. Or we'd have Glenn Beck arguing that Obama and his people are conspiring to enact some grand anti-American plan dating back to Woodrow Wilson's time. Or we'd have had, say, America's Founding Fathers accusing each other of treacherous dealings with America's enemies, with wanting to bring back the monarchy or bring the French Revolution here, etc. Oh, wait..... We HAVE had all those things. That's right -- imputing motives to your opponents is normal political speech! On all sides.

      5. Which is why, of course, it's all over the place in the Tea Party. When the speaker here criticizes "tea bag land," could it be that he's reacting to scenes like these?

      Do any of these signs impute motives to anyone? (Trick question. Answer: Obviously yes. Oh, and note the ones thanking Beck, presumably for explaining the Tea Party opponents' motives.) And when the blogger says, "I've never heard a racist statement uttered at" at Tea Party rally, is he saying that he's too busy listening to the speakers to notice any of the signs? Or does he mean that the views "uttered" at rallies don't include signs?


    3. (concluded:)

      6. The sentiments and imagery on at least some of those signs ARE openly racist. The only way to deny that is to deny what certain kinds of images -- animals, witch doctors, etc. -- have meant historically when deployed against African-Americans. Or why "Kenya" and "Muslim" would be assumed to be political criticisms. Indeed, even if all the hand-painted nonsense had been left at home, the Confederate battle flag alone is an evocation of a treasonous war fought by slaveholders whose grievance against the United States was that it wasn't permitting the free extension of slavery westward. Not just discrimination. SLAVERY. Of people with dark skins. Is that what the woman carrying it means today? Probably not, but why would you expect an African-American speaker to assume she has nothing but the best intentions? You and your blogger friend obviously aren't willing to make such assumptions about him.

      6. You want a "Macaca moment," meaning, I guess, that a video like this one would become a scandal like the George Allen video from '06. Well, let's see now. This speaker is the one-year president of an AFSCME Local representing 700 members. George Allen was a leading Republican politician for a couple of decades, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and then a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator, the office for which he was running for re-election when he got caught tossing off a historically racist slur -- hilariously, at a dark-skinned youth who had actually lived in Virginia longer than he had. This not only called into question his non-racist bona fides, it suggested he was a blithering idiot. But again, you're comparing apples and oranges -- he wasn't a local activist, he was a longtime high state and federal official with (at the time) aspirations for the Presidency.

      So there it is. I offer this to you, and also to other readers of these threads who dno't have time to click through to the stuff you post, and so might be left wondering if it's any good. I do give you credit for at least linking things so we can judge for ourselves. But OK, I've judged it, and no, it's not any good.

    4. Too many mistakes to count! Make that last one #7. :)

    5. Jeff,

      Why the giant response to this when you won't respond at all about Hispanics living longer than non-Hispanic whites or CAP hiring almost no AAs? Puzzling...

      You're right that this video wasn't that big of a deal. It's so common that it doesn't matter. But I don't know why you pretend to care when you've already stated that Bouie could harbor real animus about downscale whites while writing for the Prospect. And you don't seem to care what CBC members do or say. Would the CBC have to sing "Kill the White People" before any of it mattered?

      About the Tea Party signage video: are you starting to believe your own psyops? Some of them are probably real, but liberals bragged about sneaking that garbage into rallies:

      And cons spent a lot of energy pointing this out:

      While CAP got in on the act:

      And Obama's info-czar called for these specific kinds of actions:

      Bonus: MSNBC cropped video of an AA Tea Partier in order to produce this. Reminiscent of Zimmerman ABC NBC:

  6. backyard, this will have to be quick, because I'm up against a deadline on a writing project. But look, again you are not really studying the stuff that you yourself post or link to. The guy, Jason Levin, who said he was going to organize provocateurs to make Tea Party rallies look more racist was a guy saying he was going to do that. Did he? Did he even have the resources to, on any kind of scale? We don't know. We do know this:

    > There was certainly no liberal cover-up of such an effort, since it as "Talking Points Memo" that reported on it.

    > Levin's proposal came after reporting from Tea Party rallies had already exposed what appeared to be racist participation in them. It was not a proposal to inject this into the TP movement for the first time. Levin says so when he describes his tactic as follows: "Our goal is that whenever a tea partier says ‘Barack Obama was not born in America,’ we’re going be right right there next to them saying, ‘yeah, in fact he wasn’t born on Earth! He’s an alien!"

    But more revealingly, your own source from PJ Media admits this; note:

    "We know from previous experience that as soon as anyone puts up a racially charged sign or suggests anything but peaceful non-violent protest, there will be immediate calls for everyone to the right of Karl Marx to immediately disavow the people involved."

    This acknowledges that people were already putting up "racially charged" signs before Levin came along. To PJ's credit, they're also saying this was a problem and needed to be combatted. But it's impossible to read even the right's own accounts, like this one, and conclude that at least some of the racism wasn't the work of actual, sincere participants.

    > Anyway, what Jason Levin gives you is a conspiracy theory, i.e. an unprovable way of asserting that whatever evidence we have just proves the opposite of what it appears to. Not at all conspiracy theories are wrong, but they all stop the discussion, because at that point there's no way to prove any argument on either side. The anti-TP folks could just as easily (and did) suggest that Levin himself was a right-wing plant whose goal was to put this alleged proposal out there so that it could be used to explain away TP racism in exactly the way you're doing. Do we have any better way of disproving that conspiracy theory? Nope.

    > Cass Sunstein is, I agree, a more important figure, although the proposal of his that's causing the pants-wetting on righty sites was put forward in an academic paper, not a policy statement of the government, and was not a proposal like Levin's but has been, as usual, misquoted and distorted in the retelling. If you click through and read the original source, you see that Sunstein was talking about infiltrating conspiracist groups in order to give them real information, not to fake things to make them look bad. Again, I agree that anything involving government infiltration is problematic, but so do most people on the left, which is why your own sources include an expose and critique of this proposal from Glenn Greenwald on Salon.

    I'll have to leave it at that, but just on the point about Hispanic longevity, I did answer you, several times, as best I could on that, talking about what I think is relevant with regard to all differential group outcomes, longevity included, and the political upshot of recognizing them. Beyond that, I'm not a demographer, so I don't know more about the particulars on that one point.

  7. JB: I wrote a reply to that last comment that appears to have been eaten. No time to reconstruct it, so I'd be grateful if it could be recovered.

    1. Jeff,

      Have you ever tried using a text editor and then copy paste to the comment window? No lossage. Plus, saving your comment entries and responses for each blog in one file makes it easy to ctrl-f stuff. Or, you can use an Android phone to walk-and-comment the way I do (but that's even more irritating.)

    2. .....Meanwhile, backyard, here's the short version:

      > On Hispanics, I did answer you at length with respect to the question of group differences and what they mean politically. That's the relevant question you were raising as I understood it.

      > The provocateur, Jason Levin, who wanted to infiltrate Tea Party rallies, made his proposal *after* racist signs had already shown up at some of those rallies. My source for this is your own Pajamas Media link.

      > To attribute all the racism at those rallies to leftist infiltration is a conspiracy theory. There's an equal and opposite conspiracy theory that says that Levin was actually a double agent of the right whose goal was to give people like you an excuse for dismissing the racism at Tea Party rallies. Which theory is true? There's no way of knowing; that's the problem with conspiracy theories. They allow you to argue anything, to claim that evidence for something is actually evidence of its opposite. That's an end to any possibility of discussion.

      > Cass Sunstein's proposal -- an academic paper, not government policy -- was about giving people true information, not faking things. So it was plainly not a call "for these specific kinds of actions." You would know this if you followed your own links.

      > Even so, Sunstein's proposal was troubling enough that it was exposed and critiqued -- by the left. That's why your own link on this goes to Salon.

      I spelled this out further in the lost post, but that's the gist. You're still both over-reading and under-reading your own sources.

    3. Also, yes, I sometimes save stuff with text editors, but not habitually. I am continually reminded here that I should remember to make a point of it.

    4. Jeff,

      You stated that Hispanics want to live long lives too (I'm assuming to argue for state run healthcare) so what does it mean for your over class/under class worldview if Hispanics actually live longer than non-Hispanic whites? Or that AA women live longer than white men?

      Yes, I agreed that some of the signs were probably real. As you helpfully pointed out, Tea Party members assiduously culled that nonsense where it cropped up among the many demonstrators. As the link shows with a headline that could have come from this blog:

      "Outcrazying The Crazy: How A Prankster Plans To Infiltrate And Destroy The Tea Party Movement"

      ... the author doesn't say it's a bad idea to perform psyops, and every article I've read from libs (and commenters) complained about its efficacy, not its dishonesty. But you don't have to look anywhere other than the CBC, who claimed that there were 15 whites screaming the N word 15 times, to know that the lies about the Tea Party start at the top.

      Oops, I will now start calling them what Obama calls them: Tea-baggers.

      You're right on Sunstein. He wanted to infiltrate dangerous conspiracy theory laden groups in order to reeducate them, not delegitamize them by making them appear crazy.

      Is Glenn Greenwald still on the team? Doesn't he want Obama in chains at this point? I know that he's a Socialist or whatever, but I wouldn't say the left is cleaning its own house when so few are amplifying him. How many liberals have even heard of this stuff of Sunsteins'?

    5. backyard, in reverse order:

      > I would probably call Greenwald a left-libertarian. Regardless, he was never really "on" a "team" -- that's a point of pride with him. In general, as the right consistently fails to understand, the actual left -- as opposed to moderate liberals like myself -- has never liked Democratic presidents, whom they see as unprincipled sellouts and corporate stooges. (I think they have a point there, but I come down where I do in the interests of practical politics and getting things done.)

      > My sense is that Sunstein has been among the more controversial of Obama's appointments on the left. Here are examples of what liberals have read about him:

      I don't know how widely known his "infiltration" proposal was. However, liberals well remember what that term used to mean in days of J. Edgar and COINTELPRO, and I think there'd be considerable alarm among them about that idea and Sunstein's authorship of it if they thought that he was actually getting anywhere with it, as opposed to having floated the idea in an academic paper.

      > I would be happy to refrain from referring to Tea Party members as "tea-baggers," but you don't think that people who actually made tea bags a movement symbol (by hanging them from their hats, for instance) were infiltrators, do you?

      > I'm not a demographer, so I don't know about life expectancies. I do know that on average, women live several years longer than men, so it doesn't surprise me that women of a shorter-lived group would outlive men of an overall longer-lived one. "Hispanic," as we already discussed, is such an imprecise term that it's probably sweeping up people who aren't actually among the disadvantaged. In general, I think that different outcomes among different groups have to do with their different historical experiences, as opposed to some failure of will or initiative on their part. I don't have the expertise to account precisely for every specific different outcome.

    6. Jeff,

      "I would be happy to refrain from referring to Tea Party members as "tea-baggers," but you don't think that people who actually made tea bags a movement symbol (by hanging them from their hats, for instance) were infiltrators, do you?"

      I don't think that these cons know what tea-bagging means for gay men. Doesnt it go against every stereotype of cons that they would decide en masse to associate with the concept? I'm 99% certain that Obama knew exactly what it meant and used it to insult all the racists. To restate: I believe that some of those signs were TeaParty derived, but not all. And the movement as a whole is much more civil, decent, and law-abiding then one that Dems were closely aligned with. I mean... just the rape, murder, and dysentery alone.

      ""Hispanic," as we already discussed, is such an imprecise term that it's probably sweeping up people who aren't actually among the disadvantaged."

      If youre only going to respond to one thing, I'd prefer that thing be this: If I could show you that non-white Hispanics live longer than non-Hispanic whites, would it affect your ideas about underclass/overclass and about whether being uninsured leads to tragic outcomes for NWHs? Like, does it matter to your liberal theory of race if NWHs live longer than NHWs or is that just a red herring?

      Why is it that liberals always think it's an awful thing that whites live longer than blacks, but don't care at all that women live longer than men?

      The problem with Sunstein, etc. is that most liberals don't follow politics closely enough to have heard anything. And there's a big difference between getting briefly worked up over drone cards and civilian casualty underestimates and remembering what Bush did that used to piss them off. I think this is in that huge pot of political nastiness where one finds the Uniform Guidelines and the definition of Hispanic that approximately no one has ever heard of.

    7. "I don't think that these cons know what tea-bagging means for gay men. Doesnt it go against every stereotype of cons that they would decide en masse to associate with the concept? I'm 99% certain that Obama knew exactly what it meant and used it to insult all the racists."

      If that's so, then Obama shouldn't have done it. No, obviously the Tea Partiers didn't know the "gay" meaning of the term, and their critics have been having a bit of fun with them as a result. Maybe it's the liberal equivalent of dismissing '60s antiwar protesters as "dirty hippies" when a lot of them actually had crewcuts and pocket protectors. (Just look at the old videos.) But that's politics; not everything said on either side is perfectly fair.

      "And the movement as a whole is much more civil, decent, and law-abiding then one that Dems were closely aligned with. I mean... just the rape, murder, and dysentery alone."

      If you're referring to "Occupy," be careful again about comparing apples and oranges. Occupy didn't just stage one-day protests, it set up an outdoor camp -- in New York City, among other places -- populated mostly by young people. And, as a matter of principle, it kept access to its camps as free and open as possible. Could the right do that and come away without a touch of dysentery?

      "If I could show you that non-white Hispanics live longer than non-Hispanic whites, would it affect your ideas about underclass/overclass and about whether being uninsured leads to tragic outcomes for NWHs? Like, does it matter to your liberal theory of race if NWHs live longer than NHWs or is that just a red herring?"

      Again, I'm probably the wrong person to engage on the question of the "liberal theory of race." The more I read about race-thinking and its history, the more I think it needs to be discarded altogether -- not in the cynical, let-pretend-history-never-happened way that I think is popular on the right, but in favor of policies that recognize historic disadvantages wherever they're found, including among downscale whites. I believe there is an underclass and an overclass, and I support efforts to make that distinction as permeable as possible. The classes have some, but far from a perfect, correlation with racial and ethnic categories. I would prefer to dispense with the latter (including terms like "Hispanic") and just address the inherited disadvantages directly. I hope I am answering your question; I am trying to.

      "Why is it that liberals always think it's an awful thing that whites live longer than blacks, but don't care at all that women live longer than men?"

      This is because liberals believe that the male/female, unlike the white/black, differences are biological -- i.e. rooted in genetic patterns that developed hundreds of thousands of years ago -- not products of oppression in relatively recent historical times. Women have certainly been historically oppressed and held back (I can't believe anyone would deny that), and liberals obviously want that corrected, but the disadvantages in question haven't shown up mainly in life expectancies, and/or have been overwhelmed in that area by biological differences.

      As to your last paragraph, you may be correct, but I think there are equivalent dynamics on the right. Again, we are talking to a large degree about how politics as such tends to work, not injuries visited particularly on conservatives. The right gives at least as good as it gets, you know.

    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    9. P.S. Based on a little Googling, it appears that longer female longevity is characteristic not just of most primate species, but of many other large animals as well. So it's a difference that goes back probably not just hundreds of thousands but millions of years. Say what you will about liberals and their utopian dreams, but they are not trying to right the wrongs of millions of years ago. They've got enough on their plate just trying to clean up the messes of the Bush Administration.

    10. Jeff,

      Well, it's been fun. Later.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?