A few Rice links

by Ted on April 8, 2004

Von at Obsidian Wings has an interesting point about Rice’s testimony.

It seemed that the Democrats were more partisan in their questioning than the Republicans. That is, the Democrats on the panel aggressively challenged Rice (as you might expect). The Republicans, however, didn’t defend — or help — Rice nearly as much as I had expected. Indeed, some of them even launched mild attacks on Rice (Kerry’s comment about “swatting flies,” for example, seemed to resonate).

What to conclude? Well, if you take a dim view of human nature (as I do), you don’t conclude that the Republicans were behaving honorably and in a nonpartisan manner. (Though perhaps they were.) You conclude that there may be something in the classified documents that casts doubt on Rice’s defense.

We may know more when the PDB is released. (And it will be released.)

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Fictional leaders

by Chris Bertram on April 8, 2004

I recently bought the DVDs of the first three series of The West Wing, which make for far too compulsive viewing. Watching it, the same thought occured to me as has occured to many others: namely, how much better “President Josiah Bartlet”:http://westwing.bewarne.com/pres.html is than any recent real-life incumbent. But it isn’t just Bartlet, 24’s “President David Palmer”:http://tv.zap2it.com/tveditorial/tve_main/1,1002,274%7C87105%7C1%7C,00.html would also get my vote (if I had one) over most post-war Presidents. Fictional Presidents seem to incarnate the ideal virtues of the office. Not so fictional British Prime Ministers, who seem to be either Machiavellian (“Francis Urquhart”:http://www.tvheaven.ca/fu.htm ) or ineffectual (“Jim Hacker”:http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/articles/y/yesprimeminister_1299003453.shtml ). Perhaps only “Harry Perkins”:http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/tv/100/list/prog.php3?id=66 comes close to matching an ideal in the way that Bartlet and Palmer do. I’m not sure what this says about our different political and televisual/cinematic cultures and I’m sure there are more examples of fictional leaders to play with. Suggestions?

Psychology and Sociology

by Kieran Healy on April 8, 2004

A little bit of CT synergy. In his “post about bad explanation in Evolutionary Psychology”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001642.html, Daniel says in passing that “Part of the issue here is that any form of psychology makes a poor sociology.” A commenter asks that someone say more about that. Well, Brian’s post on, _inter alia_, “women in philosophy”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001648.html, provides a good example. There’s a lot of anecdotal and formally–collected evidence that women in Philosophy can have a hard time of it. There appear to be fewer of them in graduate programs and especially faculty positions than we would expect. Why?

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Free Music

by Brian on April 8, 2004

I’m sure all the Cool Kids have heard this already, but I only just found out about “Skeewiff’s”:http://skeewiff.com/main.html remix of the Soggy Bottom Boys’ “Man of Constant Sorrow”:http://skeewiff.free.fr/Skeewiffwhereartthou.mp3. That’s a 7.3MB download, but it’s well worth it. It is, at the very least, the best freely available song I’ve heard in a long time. And electronic remixes of bluegrass songs seems like such an obvious idea, I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before. (Or, perhaps more to the point, I’m surprised it hasn’t been brought to _my_ attention before.)

Philosophers Talking About Themselves

by Brian on April 8, 2004

As “Sappho’s Breathing”:http://www.sapphosbreathing.com/archives/000381.html notes, Carlin Romano wrote an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about “two recent collections of autobiographical memoirs by philosophers”:http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i31/31b01301.htm. There’s some interesting, and important points, to be made, so naturally I’d like to start with a cheap joke. Here’s a sample of what we’re likely to see if more philosophers turn their hand to autobiography.

bq. The facility of my pen (I write everything by hand!) has enabled me to produce a system of philosophical thought that is more many-sided, complex, and far-reaching than has been the case with any other living American philosopher. (Nicholas Rescher)

I’d be jealous of Rescher’s philosophical achievement if I wasn’t wittier, more charming, better looking and generally just a more excellent human being than any other living philosopher. “No, really.”:http://mattweiner.net/blog/archives/000063.html

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LGF: Like Flypaper to Sociopaths [1]

by Henry on April 8, 2004

“Julian Sanchez”:http://www.reason.com/links/links040504.shtml notes that some of the outrage at Kos is a bit rich, considering it comes from the likes of the LGF crowd. Charles Johnson and friends seem never to have met an Arab they didn’t want to string up. Now Johnson seems to be on a rampage, egging his commenters on to spew filth at “Kathryn Cramer’s”:http://www.kathryncramer.com/wblog/archives/000492.html and “Nathan Newman’s”:http://www.nathannewman.org/log/archives/001636.shtml#001636 blogs. Their tactics include posting Kathryn’s address and telephone number, making death threats, and threatening her children. This isn’t just trollishness – it’s an attempt to intimidate and to silence. Not a proud moment for the blogosphere. Via “Rivka”:http://respectfulofotters.blogspot.com/2004_04_01_respectfulofotters_archive.html#108127482205377604.

fn1. Title borrowed from one of Nathan’s commentators.

Tomorrow’s punditry today

by Ted on April 8, 2004

Be the first on the block to blog Condi Rice’s testimony, thanks to Stuart Benjamin of the Volokh Conspiracy:

Play bingo at home (or, if you want, make it into a drinking game: one drink for each iteration of one of these words).

Of her demeanor, Rice supporters will say she was: “poised,” “confident,” “authoritative,” and/or “polished.”

Of her demeanor, Rice detractors will say she was: “defensive,” “visibly annoyed,” and/or “brusque” ; bonus (if they feel strongly) “petulant” and/or “schoolmarmish”

On the quality of her arguments, Rice supporters will say: “persuasive,” “convincing,” “firm,” and/or “powerful”; bonus (if they feel strongly) “overpowering”

On the quality of her arguments, Rice detractors will say: “unpersuasive,” “weak,” “vacillating,” and/or “shaky,”; bonus (if they feel strongly) “incoherent”

Overall, Rice supporters will describe her performance as: “a home run,” “putting doubts to rest,” “answering all the questions,” “showing Clarke to be a liar,” and/or “letting us get on to the people’s business”; bonus (if they are really partisan) “refuting the demagogues on the other side”

Overall, Rice detractors will describe her performance as: “raising more questions than it answers,” “a missed opportunity to inform the American people,” “vindicating Richard Clarke,” and/or “raising troubling questions about this Administration”; bonus (if they are really partisan) “you’re the demagogue” (followed by: “am not!”; “are too!”; “am not!”; etc.)