What can you say about a story like this?

(“This way to the libertarian recruitment center” comes to mind, actually.)

You and what army

by Ted on February 28, 2004

Good catch from Uggabugga:

We took a quick spin around the Internet looking at religious-conservative sites to see what their reaction was to Bush’s proposal of a constitutional amendment about marriage. What did they have to say at 8:30 PM EST? (on Tuesday, the day the of Bush’s announcement of support for the FMA- Ted)

* Coral Ridge Ministries: no mention
* Christian Broadcasting Network: no mention
* The 700 Club (subset of CBN): no mention
* Focus on the Family: a tiny link to a short statement
* Concerned Women for America: no mention (but an old link to a page defending the term “marriage”)
* Family Research Council: Yes, a featured summary on the front page, and a link to a short statement

That’s a pretty tepid response. Where was the coordination by the White House?

It could very well be that socially conservative organizations just don’t have their act together when it comes to the web. I was struck at the failure of the American Family Association to drum up more support for their poll on gay marriage. Sure, a lot of liberal (and socially liberal) organizations and pages linked to the survey, but so did social conservative organizations and pages. They’ve got their mailing lists, and the support of a network of online socially conservative activist groups. Still, the most conservative option, opposing civil unions and gay marriage, lost 2-1.

Still, interesting.


by Ted on February 28, 2004

For the record:

Wesley Clark didn’t spread the rumor about John Kerry.

We also spoke to a couple other reporters and pieced together what happened: at a press conference at a Nashville restaurant, Clark made a passing reference to an upcoming National Enquirer story about Kerry’s past. The story wasn’t about an intern at all, and Clark brought it up in the context of his own campaign plans. He was staying in, he said, in part because the expected story might damage the Kerry campaign. According to one reporter, it appeared Clark didn’t have any idea what the allegations might be.

There’s a commercial on Bush’s campaign website that claims that Kerry took “more special interest money than any other senator.” That’s a very difficult statement to defend. (The commercial is still there.)

When you combine money from paid lobbyists and PACs–which makes sense, since they’re both conduits for “special interests”–Kerry actually ranks ninety-second out of 100 U.S. senators. That doesn’t make him pure, but it makes him purer than most serious candidates for the White House. And it puts him on a different planet from President Bush, who accepted more money from lobbyists last year alone than Kerry has in the last 15.

There was a commonly circulated story that Saddam Hussein used to murder people by lowering them into industrial plastic shredders. It should not add any luster to the terrible dictator’s reputation to point out that this story was thinly sourced at best. (via No More Mister Nice Blog)

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Damn you, Bill Gates!

by John Holbo on February 28, 2004

Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty” contains a sentence fragment, which, in context, constitutes an answer to some such question as ‘what are we on about, eh?’ Typed it in today, and had occasion to consult MS-Word about spelling overall. And no way to do that without getting two-cents worth about grammar. So what do you suppose the Beast of Redmond thinks we should do about “That which a man cannot give up without offending against the essence of his human nature”? Answer: “consider revising.”

He wishes for the cloths of Heaven

by Kieran Healy on February 28, 2004

There wasn’t much light pollution when I was growing up in Ireland, but it was cloudy way too often. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona and got out into the desert at night that I fully appreciated the Milky Way as a celestial object you could look up and see. I remain appallingly “ignorant”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2003/07/the_joy_of_lear.html about the constellations, but via “Escadabelle”:http://escadabelle.blogspot.com/ comes a superb “photograph”:http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap040223.html of the Arizona night sky (see also a “larger version”:http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0402/skymt_payne_big.jpg).[1] If you’re ever in Tucson, make time to get out to the “Kitt Peak National Observatory”:http://www.noao.edu/kpno/ which runs a terrific “Nightly Observing Program”:http://www.noao.edu/outreach/nop/. Here in Australia the night sky is also very clear, outside the cities, but I am even more clueless about its composition.

fn1. Incidentally, I know that this photo wasn’t taken just by strolling out into the desert and pointing a camera in the air. But it conveys the feeling of what it’s like to be out there.

All Mod Cons

by Belle Waring on February 28, 2004

In general I prefer the American, hard-boiled mystery to the cosy English one. Ross Macdonald is my god. I still enjoy a “cosy” murder however, and there may be more well-written ones of this type. Perhaps it’s just that I find derivative “cosy” mysteries tolerable, if kitsch, while derivative hard-boiled mysteries are just brutal. See the works of Mickey Spillane, passim. Josephine Tey, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh (not British, really, but it comes to the same thing) — I enjoy all these, Tey particulary. P.D. James is a little precious and over-intellectualized, but that’s not to say I haven’t read them all. I even like Agatha Christie, though her works form their own peculiar class; the puzzles are insoluble because they require characters other than human beings to carry them out. The Christie murderer is someone of insane cunning, capable of planning things to the minutest detail, and simultaneously posessed of incredible, reckless daring, which allows them to seize a random, propitious moment for their scheme.

One thing that always strikes me in reading post-WWII novels set in England is just how incredibly poor it was (yes, and in the few set in Scotland, it’s worse). In novels set in the late ’40’s, people are literally scrounging around for firewood, and everything is rationed. Everyone has that one annoying cousin who married a Yank and sends envy-provoking postcards about their new washing machine. In the Rendell book One Across, Two Down, published in 1971, the main characters don’t even have a refrigerator in their flat, and it is a source of friction when the meat in the larder gets high by Sunday (they are meant to be poor, but not abjectly so). This seems bizarre to me. Nor do I think of the 1970’s as a time of rocketing prosperity for Britain. So, when was the Wirtschaftswunder? When did the UK get to be the rich place it is today? Or should I stop trying to glean reliable sociological details from murder mysteries?

Memo to Peter Jackson, Eugene Volokh, et al.

by Kieran Healy on February 28, 2004

“High Concept”:http://www.writersstore.com/product.php?products_id=263 for a Horror movie: The “Constitution”:http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution.html _really is_ a “living document”:http://www.google.com/search?q=constitution+living+document&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8. Key scenes:

* Night. CONSTITUTION escapes from display case in Library of Congress. Seen lurking in alleyway off of Mass Ave. Shadows. Attacks and eats “Cato Institute”:http://www.cato.org INTERN.
* Day. The NATIONAL GUARD attempt to capture the Constitution on the Mall. Suddenly, ARTICLE III is invoked in a novel way. The GUARDSMEN find themselves guilty of treason and are forced to arrest themselves.
* Morning. Quiet alley. Constitution hides in a dumpster. We hear it interpreting itself in a high-pitched chatter. BABY AMENDMENTS push up the dumpster lid and escape into the city.
* A home office. A MAN sits at a computer. The Constitution moves stealthily behind him, past a banner on the wall reading ‘Proud to be a Resident Scholar at the “AEI”:http://www.aei.org/.’ He hears a noise behind him, turns and brandishes a gun. The Constitution quickly reinterprets the SECOND AMENDMENT and the gun disappears. The Man looks at his hand in horror, and then up at the advancing AMENDMENT. Fade Out.
* Day. Golf Course. The EIGHTH AMENDMENT appears from the heavy rough and devours Justice “SCALIA”:http://balkin.blogspot.com/2004_02_15_balkin_archive.html#107711660024967338 from the legs up. Vice President CHENEY putts to save par, makes some adjustments to Scalia’s scorecard, and smiles quietly to himself.

The linking scenes pretty much write themselves. Call me for a complete synopsis.

Visible Libertarians

by Kieran Healy on February 28, 2004

I’m trying to remember the source of a quote, and the quote itself — roughly, it says “Individualism is a transitional stage between two kinds of social structure.” It sounds like something “Simmel”:http://socio.ch/sim/index_sim.htm would say, or maybe “Amos Hawley”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226319849/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/. Libertarianism has always seemed to me to depend for its realization on features of the social structure that it officially repuditates. It wouldn’t be the first ideology of which that was true. But I’m not going to defend that idea here. All I want to say is that I think we’d all be better off if “Jim Henley”:http://www.highclearing.com/archivesuo/week_2004_02_22.html#005104 got the kind of traffic that Glenn Reynolds gets, and maybe “Julian Sanchez”:http://www.juliansanchez.com/notes.html got “Virginia Postrel’s”:http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004_archives/000339.html job at the _Times_.

Something new at the Oscars

by Eszter Hargittai on February 28, 2004

I don’t usually watch the Oscars but I hope to tune in this weekend. A friend of mine, a frequent visitor of CT – comments by “laura” – will be performing at the event.

So how does a Sociology PhD student make it to the Oscars? Certainly not by planning for it. Laura’s dissertation is on Sacred Harp singing. It’s not something most of us know anything about. I’ve learned from her that it’s an a capella four-part harmony style that’s been a living tradition in the South for over 150 years and has undergone something of a folk revival in the Northeast, Midwest, and West coast over the past 20-30 years. It is participatory singing, not usually performed in this way so the Oscar performance will be a bit artificial. But anything is possible in Hollywood, as we know.

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