Why does The Fray hate Raymond?

Plus, wine marketing and Katyal’s response.

Everybody in the Fray loves Brad Garrett: Nothing has inspired more TV fraying than Virginia Heffernan’s subtitular remark that Everybody Loves Raymondis “Seinfeld for Catholics.” W.V. Micko parses the difference here:

Seinfeld’s whack jobs were too crazed to be scary, and I laughed myself to tears. But “Raymond?” “Raymond” is Seinfeld’s final episode, over and over and over again: strange, creepy, suffocating and depressing.

Anya Fanya kicks off a great thread of future Heffernan articles. Her best: Touched by an Angel: CSI for Baptists. The Max Fischer Players cannot bring himself to love Raymond: “too many Remington Steele flashbacks whenever Doris Roberts is on screen.”

And they gave my red hat to a donkey!: While Zathras and Lee agree with Michael Steinberger that Beaujolais Nouveau is worth skipping, they are on opposite side of the paradox of the mass market. Zathras defendsFrench negociants for raising American interest in wine:

The truth is there would be no American market, or at least not nearly as big a one, without this kind of wine, not just from Beaujolais but from California and Chile as well. You just don’t see great crowds of really knowledgeable wine drinkers besieging wine shops in November to get the hands on the latest Nouveau; what you see instead are casual wine drinkers and some who are just beginning to drink wine.

Lee thinksthat interest has destroyed the French tradition it was built on:

The original idea of the “new wine” releases was to generate excitement about what the wines of a year would eventually be, once they matured a bit. Bicycle messengers would race down from the vineyards with bottles of new wine for fans of a particular vintner. The tasters would evaluate the new wine and decide whether it was going to be a good vintage, and make up their minds about how many cases they would purchase.Of course, something this charming, this quaint, this provincial, would get commercialized and marketed in America, land of Wal-Mart … 11:50 a.m.

I got your conspiracy right here: As promised, Neal Katyal offers detailed answers to Jurisprudence Fraysters’s questions about his piece on conspiracy here (the links are active in the version posted at the bottom of the original piece). The meatiest part of the answer comes near the end, when he sorts out his advocacy of a broad use of conspiracy in criminal cases and his opposition to the increasing use of military tribunals:

[T]he permissive rules surrounding conspiracy prosecutions emerged in the context of our particular criminal justice system, with its emphasis on the right to counsel, juries, grand jury presentment, individual rights, cross-examination, Brady disclosures, and the like. What I fear today is that the broad rules surrounding conspiracy doctrine can be used to justify the indefinite detention of people in military brigs. These permissive rules surrounding conspiracy only work with a vibrant power to test the government’s claims, and it appears that such testing is out of the question for those indefinitely detained. That is the worst of every world … 6:55 a.m.

Thursday, Nov. 21, 2002

Where’s your conspiracy now? “Is this the end of little RICO?” TheWatchfulBabbler asks in the best post title—and one of the best posts—in the Jurisprudence Fray discussion of Neal Katyal’s piece about conspiracy. (Today’s blog shall be known as BabbleWatch.) Doodahman leads off a terrific thread about the use and abuse of conspiracy. The nut graf:

Years after conspiracy laws explode in applications that are largely horrific (using them to put low level, barely culpable poor people in jail basically forever on the basis of the harms committed by kingpins who are rarely brought to justice), brainmeisters like Katyal bootstrap vague sociological theories to the original legislative intent and call it “prescience”.

Piney’s response stresses the coconspirator statements as an exception to the hearsay rule:

[T]he REAL real reason the feds love conspiracy charges is Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2)(E). That lovely provision says that a hearsay statement … is somehow transformed into being NOT hearsay if it is “a statement by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy.” … A powerful tool indeed, especially when [one conspirator] rolls over and enhances his standing with Team America by describing conversations he says he had out on the street with [his coconspirator] some years (or days) ago.

(Another great Piney post here.) Katyal is travelling today, but expects to respond tomorrow. Fraywatch will update. …

Kipling and kinesiology: Responding to Chatterbox’s rewriting of Kipling for an era when “fighting” is called “kinetic warfare,” Eldoktor improves the scansion with this:

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ‘Give him an emetic!’But it’s ‘Saviour of ‘is country’ when the U.K goes kinetic. … 7:40 a.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2002

A line in the shifting sands of time: William Saletan follows the fine gradations of the Saddameter with 10 points to keep in mind about weapons inspections in Iraq. Thrasymachus is still caught in the gradiated muddle here:

Saletan’s absolutely right to emphasize the importance of keeping our collective eyes on the main issue. We can’t let Saddam narrow the issue … or broaden the issue … or … um … just what WAS the issue? I’ve heard all sorts of versions.(Really narrow) Is the issue Iraq’s specific violations of specific U.N resolutions?(Pretty narrow) Is the issue Iraq’s (as yet unproven) role in the events of September 11?
Etc., all the way up to (Frighteningly broad) Is the issue a “clash of civilizations” fundamentally characterizable as “Islam vs. the West?”

Draco Malfeasor: New to the Today’s Papers Fray? Many of the best threads work differently there than in the Arts & Life Frays or the Frays spun off multi-entry articles. In a typical good thread, like this one began by Widespread Panic, the main post will be an article clipped from a major news source—in this case, an article about the Bush administration’s search for a new chair of the SEC. The main post often has little or no commentary and the poster instead responds to the article and to other posters’ comments. Here, the underlying question is “Why are the Bush folks looking at Democrat Erskine Bowles?” And the answer, according to Widespread Panic, is not that Bowles is the best available candidate (coming off losing his race for the Senate). Instead, it’s a cover-your-ass operation:

With such an appointment, the difficulties in reaching business malfeasors could be underscored for the public, and the GOP would slip off the hook for Harvey Pitt’s apparent incompetence.

O Hellenbach thinks this is such a shrewd answer, he takes the time to agree at length here. …

Assignment desk: Bernard Yomtov leads off another smart thread over in Today’s Papers in the wake of yesterday’s passage of the Homeland Security bill.

Shortly after the election William Saletan wrote in Slate that he expected newly elected Sens. Coleman, Talent, and Sununu, all Republicans, to make fine Senators. [See the Wednesday, November 6 entry here.—J.D.] Well, they will have a chance to prove it right away in January.The Homeland security bill contains a number of outrageous provisions which Democrats tried to amend out. No dice. But a small group of Republican moderates—Snowe, Collins, Chafee, supported the bill as written on condition that the leadership agree to revisit those provisions when the new session begins. They trust Lott, Hastert, & co. more than I do, but we’ll see.How the three newcomers deal with this issue will tell us something about them.

Doubtless, Saletan and Yomtov will return to this come January. …

I believe in coyotes, or jackals: Diarist Steven Waldman gloats too soon about coming out of bankruptcy for history guy’s taste. Waldman writes that

Most fun, though, is figuring out how to deal with people who were mean to us during bankruptcy but, now that we surprised them by sticking around, are again being nice—nice challenge for a religion and spirituality Web site—the daily dilemma of deciding between vengeance and forgiveness.

And hg responds:

Um, those people who were mean to you? They sold you stuff, and they didn’t get paid. You took the stuff they had, promised to pay them, and then you didn’t pay. Now, months or a year later, you’re finally making partial payments. The bankruptcy court washes your sin away if you think of it that way; it doesn’t get them all their money back. Someone has the choice between vengeance and forgiveness, and it isn’t you …

Ceci n’est pas une image:Reporting on another religious contradiction, history guy has much of the Best of the Fray Frayplaying along as he ponders the absurdity of Alabama’s Ten Commandments monument … 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002

POTency: There are not many surprises in the Hey, Wait a Minute Fray discussion of Daniel Forbes’ piece on marijuana potency. (Any newbie can guess what doodahman’s basic perspective will be—although the newbie won’t know of his rhetorical flair until she reads this.)I was a bit surprised at The Bell’s quasi-justification for official disinformation here:

If the drug has substantial and incontestable health hazards, it ought to be possible to make a good case against it just on the facts. Ideally, I cannot argue with that principle but there are some factors that suggest a hard line - and perhaps a slightly disingenuous one - may be an evil necessity to keep the youngest kids off the stuff.The post is, as usual, longer and more well-reasoned than a blog allows.

Another contrarian post worth singling out comes from Quesnay here, who thinks the analogy between legalizing alcohol and legalizing marijuana does pot no favors.

To me the issue is whether public policy should support—promote—a sober lifestyle, or not. The use of legal prohibition of some or all intoxicating substances is a debatable, but not an irrational, means to consider to that end. … [O]nce an intoxicant becomes legal, you are going to get exactly the same political shit with it that you now have with alcohol. You are going to find you have an immense financial and political power behind increasing demand and decreasing regulation, liability and taxation. Do you really want this? Do you really want a cannabis industry right alongside the liquor industry, one of the most corrupting influences which now operates at local and state levels?

You say that like it’s a bad thing: Several posters have made this point (courtesy of Brian, here):

Higher THC pot is probably less dangerous, in the long run. There is little science to support the notion that the psychoactive ingredient is actually harmful. Rather, it is the smoke itself. Higher THC cigarettes lead to reduced smoking, shorter inhalation, etc. … 1:55 p.m.

The three R’s of terrorism: Ahhh, semantics. One man’s terrist is another man’s tourist. In the Fighting Words Fray, Captain Ron Voyage and Godels Yodel had a punchy discussion about whether terrorism must always go beyond considerations of means and reach what Christopher Hitchens refers to as “demanding the impossible.” CRV puts it this way:

Are al-Qaeda’s aims all that unreasonable? Obviously, the establishment of worldwide Sharia, the undoing of the “tragedy of Andalusia” and the restoration of the Caliphate with OBL on the throne are nuttier than a Clark bar, but these aren’t their primary stated goals. As I recall, on Sept. 11th they called for the withdrawal of U.S. military from Saudi Arabia, the end of U.N. sanctions on Iraq, the overthrow of corrupt Arab regimes and an immediate resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These are all positions Hitchens has agreed with, most of them in this very article. …

(Note to Fraysters: shameless Hitch-baiting is not always successful. …)

Think Ron and GY are alone? Adam Morgan raises the same issue here, drawing on John Miller’s still-fascinating interview with Osama himself.

Abre los ojos rummages through some online dictionaries and the Slate archive before settling on a means-based definition:

I think we must arrive indeed at the conclusion Hitchens, and many before him, have sought vainly to avoid: Terrorism per se, associated with any reasonable linguistically-genuine origin, is neither just nor unjust. It is just a tactic of warfare, frequently asymmetric, to achieve political aims. In this conclusion, one must agree with bin Laden: there are such phenomena as “blessed” and “non-blessed” terrorism.

Engram’s responseis intriguing in its combination of what seems to be real soul-searching—”I can appreciate that certain extreme situations would essentially force me to act in a way that violates my sense of right vs. wrong”—and consultant speak—”in my view, pragmatics and morality are orthogonal dimensions.” …

We report, and send little memos on the side: The tempest over Bob Woodward’s account of Roger Ailes’ memo to Karl Rove about President Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks (pant-pant, sorry, too much signposting) has been contained. (Bob and Rog made nice yesterday). But the question of its appropriateness lingers. Chatterbox argues  that it’s the sneakiness of Ailes’ partisanship that makes the memo wrong; Bercovici responds in the Fray herewith an even more compelling problem: Ailes is giving Bush propaganda advice:

What I find really insidious about this Woodward item is that Ailes isn’t advising Bush/Rove on a course of action—he’s advising them on how to court public opinion. Given that his network influences how a good chunk of the public perceives the administration, that’s clearly out of bounds. It’s bad enough that Fox applies the spin. Now we find out they’ve been supplying the script too. …

Monday, Nov. 18, 2002

Spam, spam, spam, d.o.s., and spam: Faced with the potential “end of email as we know it,” the Fray has turned resourceful, suggesting literal taxes (rickotto here and Dilan Esper hereboth suggested a 1/10 of a cent charge per e-mail), taxes on computer time (Sean’s technical fix here), and mob justice. Thrasymachus wants to ratchet up the spammee’s countermeasures here:

[T]he Web makes it very possible for people to indulge in a bit of self-help. What I’d like to see is a program like Cloudmark that flags Spam-servers… and then rallies participating subscribers in automated denial of service attacks to bring those servers to their knees!The Web puts everyone on an equal footing, in an atmosphere of pure anarchy and chaos. And, when it comes to anarchy and chaos… why not share and share alike?I, for one, am looking forward to the delicious sight of a Congressional panel laughing its ass off at the sight of a bunch of spammers begging for legislation to protect them from me! …

Ballot Box, Culturebox, Xbox:Slate is always willing to provide readers with a guided tour of some of Microsoft’s (other) not-yet-profitable ventures. Brendan Koernerponders Xbox’s mediocre market share here and attributes much of its struggle to lack of cool. The Fray is dubious. MsZilla defends the product line here. Palladiate takes issue with the underlying idea here—that Xbox trails PS2 even though it is “technically superior”:

X-box may have an nVidia chip, but it’s still got PC piplining problems. The problem is, no one has really figured out how to tap the power of huge pipelines yet. No one’s ever programmed for them before. It’s better to have a firehose than a straw, no matter the size of the bucket they are filling. Sony has Microsoft trumped in the short run, and in the long run.

And if that makes no sense, he more pithily notes that “Even the girl from 7th Heaven has a PS2 room” here. …

More where that Xbox came from: Reacting to Mark Mazzetti’s dispatch from Media Boot Camp, Ender wants Mazzetti to think about the enlisted men who’ve been given extra duty “shepherding sissy reporters” here. Mazzetti notes that “The computers the Navy uses to fire Tomahawks run on Windows NT”; history guy plays the screenwriter “We’re in trouble now” here (there’s more where this came from):

—Private, fire the Tomahawk!—It won’t let me log in. Something about a space in my loginname name.—Just put a _ between your first and last name.—Yessir. OK, it logged me in. It asked me if I want me to report the error condition. …

If it’s not Harry Potter, it’s Kurt Cobain: While the discussions of Cobain have been polarized (tortured genius/druggie loser), there have been some attempts to take the articles (David Samuels on Cobain’s last song; Tim Appelo on his diaries) seriously—at least JPH tried until he/she gagged on the tag here:

Nirvana the last great punk band? The Nirvana that died the year after Fugazi’s “In on the Killtaker” came out? That died before Sleater-Kinney was even born?

As for Samuels’ claim that Cobain was “the most gifted and popular writer that rock music had seen since Lennon/McCartney,” eric schenck thinks that is “ridiculoushere. “Hell, I’m not even sure Cobain was the most gifted writer in Nirvana!”

Soprano le fou: The TV Club Fray (why we don’t just call it the Sopranos Fray …) springs to life every Monday morning. Today, socalchangohas had it with Dr. Melfi, who no only lets Tony get away with doubling his meds (we never, never let patients self-medicate—see Cobain above), but she doesn’t chase down what Tony means by “tragic clown,” thus failing to help him or provide us with Pagliacci refs. Fortunately, socal does it for us here (and the thread is good, too). …

The eternal return: Many question Jim Holt’s cyclical theory of nightlife—his history of NYC clubs, of electrification—and he has jumped into the Fray to respond. Techno producer Stewart Walker notes that this time around, there may be some problems with the nightliferevival:

For most of the 1990’s, there were raves here there and everywhere in the US. Laws were passed on local, state, and national levels to penalize promoters and performers. On November 4th, 2002, local police broke into a party in Racine, WI and ticketed 445 attendants $968 each. Source: dancesafe.orgWith hidden expenses like this, celebrities will be the only people able to afford a night out in 2005. … 1:35 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 15, 2002

Born free, but they are everywhere in jeans, holding clipboards, ringing the doorbell while I’m trying to keep my risotto from scorching: Lurking behind Joe Klein and Robert Reich’s argument over the Democrats’ future is an unresolved question about voter preference: how much isinherent, how much can be done about it? The Fray took on a version of this earlier this week in the Chatterbox discussions of whether demography would ride to the Democrats’ rescue. In the Politics debate, the question is whether candidates should move to the center, where the votes are, or whether candidates should move mobilizers. Publius thinks Democrats who want to drum up new constituencies are all wrong here:

[T]here is the hope that the younger non-voters, 18-30, will break Democratic if they vote. But this is a bit of a will-o-the-wisp too that is mainly based on the experience with the young of a generation and two ago, who are now older. Today’s young – except at Harvard and other places where guys like Reich teach – give every sign of holding views that are sufficiently complex and divided to place them squarely in the center.Nothing good will happen to the Democrats nationally until they realize that Reich’s eternal hope that the triad of minorities, labor and liberals can be fashioned into a sustainable majority is simply out of date.

On the other side of this made-not-born divide is dyingbreedlefty who thinks left mobilization can work for the Dems as it has for the Working Families Party in New York, or PIRG, or ACORN. What makes lefty’s post especially interesting is what he means by “work for the Dems”:

Give one of [these activist groups] some real money, a la the Christian Coalition, and let them become the activating force mobilizing people around one or two key issues (I like tax cuts for the working and middle classes and universal health care myself). Don’t let a single politician from around the country get away without taking a stand on those two issues, and back it up with op-eds, articles in the political magazines, studies, rallies, lobby visits, and press. They’ll draw fire from the right wing, but they’ll give cover to the moderates, and create a buzz on those issues. They’ll also give rise to the next generation of political activists and politicians. Its a lot easier to mobilize people around issues than around something as wishy washy as a party.

Turnthe left into the DLC’s difference while making them do the legwork? Jesus-of-Nantucket suggests Nancy Pelosi is already providing cover for a moderate presidential candidate in 2004. This all sounds so Machiavellian, so Vin Weber. Things may be looking up for the Democrats. …

Jack Kemp with cred: Jimmy the Celt likes Klein and Reich’s “low boiling points,” but supports Reich’s claim that the Democrats don’t have the Republican’s discipline with a story about privatizing Social Security:

About ten years ago, the conservative foundations and think tanks (Heritage, Cato, American Enterprise, Manhattan) got together and decided on a long-range plan to transform the idea of privatizing Social Security from a fringe obsession (akin to a return to the gold standard) to a respectable, viable public policy option. They did it. … [T]he Dems are disciplined, kind of, only about focus-group mush messages and other here-and-now tactical considerations. They are poor – in every sense of the word – at building a durable political force.

America the Prize: One of the more difficult things to do in any discussion of what the Democrats should do now is to keep it focused. Take this thread where four smart posters—Captain Ron Voyage, Zathras, Godels Yodel and Geoff—offer several possible explanations for the Democrats’ failure—strategic error on taxes and Iraq, poor candidate quality, lack of emotional appeal to voters (policy, people, persuasion)—and several prescriptions. Now, if someone would PowerPoint this brainstorming session (Laurent Murawiec?). …

Fighting Back:Christopher Hitchens responds to Fray critics with his typical verve: “It’s an honor to be misunderstood by some people.” Because his is a global response, I have not posted it in The Fray proper, but here at the bottom of the article, below my initial Fray selections. …

Like, totally: In the Today’s Papers Fray, Bruce has begun an important discussion of William Safire’s piece decrying the super-snooping “Total Awareness Initiative” at DARPA here (The thread stops, and starts up again here.) … 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002

The edge of whiteness: Yet another report from the Chatterbox Fray. Tim Noah’s latest “Democrats 36,000” entry has provided Tom Schaller, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County political scientist, with a jumping off point for a debate about white political loyalties in general and for some score-settling over Chatterbox’s account of the Kathleen Kennedy Townsend loss in particular. Look below the article for more signposting and some relevant quotes. …

No spin-off zone: While the Harry Potter-related Frays (Gizmos on the new video game; Movies on the new movie) are understandably moribund—people haven’t seen the things yet—the Readme discussion of Law & Order reruns has addicts confessing right and left. Perhaps the Fray can answer the nagging question: Why do powerful women like the reruns? Geoff, a rerunner, begins a discussion herewith the supposition that the show is unique, even among the other Law & Order outlets for its “refusal to engage in cloying sentimentality”:

These stories are narratively gripping, but without indulging the American penchant to psychoanalyze everything. Does Michael Moriarty care about justice because his mother breast-fed him too long? How the hell would we know? Does Chris Noth have abandonment issues? I’m not sure. …But I can’t see anything about this explanation that makes it particularly “feminist”. Given what programmers did to the Olympics when they wanted to bring over the “female demographic” (GAWD!), it doesn’t seem to fit with stereotype driven marketing (though I won’t quibble with reality) … 9:30 p.m.

EDM: Supermarket to the newly disempowered: The Chatterbox discussion of John Judis and Ruy Teixeira’s Emerging Democratic Majority turns to their answer to the question: whither the liberal white working class? Judis and Teixeira think the liberal culture of high-tech enclaves (“ideopolises“) staves off the would-be “patio men” inside, but Noah disagrees. For him, it’s the way these cities serve as shining beacons of the good that can be done when government underwrites a tolerant, creative knowledge community. frankly0 doesn’t think so:

[T]his connection between government monies and the flourishing of ideopolises has NOT been so very conspicuous and extraordinary that it has raised the ire of the likes of Rush Limbaugh. I dare say that only a quite small number of very sophisticated voters in an ideopolis have the faintest awareness of this phenomenon. Yet, according to Noah it is this fact that truly drives the average white working class male in an ideopolis to vote Democratic. Is this some kind of Freudian analysis you’re doing, Timothy, where the most important things work on voters on an entirely unconscious level?

If not cultural osmosis, and if not unconscious economic assessment, then what? Mitch offers his armchair evolutionary psychological account in “It’s the women, stupid” (aka Alan Alda’s revenge) …

The day the clown cried: Speaking of freudian romance, reactions to Daniel Menaker’s piece on Woody Allen and psychoanalysis have been caught in the riptide of responses to Hell Hath No Fury (which have been, on the whole, useless). The Bell offers this account of Woody’s unaccountable claim that he is nothing like the characters he plays:

[H]is denials are just that - intentional fibs … “I already offer my private life to you guys in my art,” he seems to be saying. “Therefore it is only respectful for you to pretend with me in other settings that my private life is secret and known to me alone.”That is the conundrum of Woody Allen upon which Mr. Menaker seizes. Allen combines the soul of a mature artist with the id and ego of a fourteen-year-old. He will gladly place himself, warts and all, before you but the only acceptable response is adoration.

Think you’ve seen that mix of desperation for control before? The Bell says he has, in Jerry Lewis. For more discussion of the fact/fiction line, see socalchango’s post here

Content of their caricature: Responding to Chris Suellentrop’s assessment of House Minority Leader candidate Nancy Pelosi as “caricaturable,” Captain Ron Voyage notes  that

The GOP leadership is equally caricaturable as a bunch of wealthy, fat and mean crackers–does Brooks honestly believe Pelosi is more caricaturable than Newt Gingrich or, for God’s sake, Phil Gramm?

And while marylb still wants the Democrats to hew to the “appealing” types like John Edwards and Harold Ford, Jesus-of-Nantucket thinks picking Pelosi makes good sense:

Is Nancy Pelosi too far left? Is Tom DeLay too far right? Of course! But the Republicans’ success suggests an ideologically gonzo congressional leadership may have some advantages. Here are a couple of the top of my head:1) Energizes the base.2) Gives the presidential candidate someone to triangulate against.3) Makes the split-the-difference position, which many wrongly equate with reasonableness, actually centrist, rather than skewed right.4) Bonus: She’s from California, the only place the Dems are likely to to raise money (not Texas or Tennessee)

Now, if all these people would just pick a thread and go with it … 9:20 a.m.