There They Go Again

Fraysters take their turns as network execs.

Eye Paid For This Microphone! Fraysters, bummed that they’ll have to flip over to WB’s Tarzan on Nov. 16 now that CBS has pulled The Reagans from its schedule, rushed Chatterbox Fray en masse. To Mike_Murray, the light in which Reagan is portrayed is irrelevant. MM writes:

Leave it be for a few years. Yes, courtesy to the dying and their family does have a place and is not ‘quaint’. When we say speak no ill of the dead we are referring primarily to the recently dead. I think it reasonable to extend that to the dying as well …How would we have felt about a salacious docudrama about Kennedy three months after he was assassinated?
TheNewSnobbery retorts that Reagan is fair game:
Politicians are just celebrities, and ex-presidents are subjected to all kinds of small public indignities (as well as grand accolades) all the time.

I’m telling you, the extent of the drama for the Reagan family would go like this.

[Cocktail Party Setting]

Random Reagan Family Member #1: Did you see that terrible thing on CBS?

Random Reagan Family Member #2: No, I have better things to do with my time.

Speaking of which, exactly what is Ron Jr. doing with his time? Is his foray into broadcast journalism now a career? Spare Fraywatch the Google search and do tell. Jmsrober agrees with MM:
Doubtless once Reagan passes on and enough time passes for people to distance themselves from Reagan as a living president he will be the subject of numerous films and books which show him in the worst possible light and the American public will accept this. The public doesn’t need to hold Reagan up as a saint but now is not the time to paint him as a sinner either which this film seems quite clearly to have intended.
Here, JCormac insists that the censorship/portrayal snafu is superfluous to the real issue. Viacom, parent company of CBS, doesn’t:
want to have Mel Karmazin or Sumner Redstone in some Congressional hearing concerning some potential multi-billion dollar acquisition being questioned by some freshman Republican House member (who named his kid “Reagan” to be sure) and forced to defend some crappy miniseries which few would have watched anyway.
Regarding Reagan’s stature in conservative quarters as a saint, The_Bell—a Republican— writes:
Ambrose Bierce once defined a saint as “a dead sinner, revised and edited.” Reagan is not physically dead yet of course but I suppose he is intellectually so. As a conservative, I can accept that definition of “Saint Ronald.” And it is only a matter of time before I shall doubtless accept it for “Saint Jimmy” and “Saint Bill.” Their canonizations are already clearly underway.
Bierce’s reported disappearance to Mexico is as mysterious as “Reagan’s enigmatic character,” which The_Bell follows up on here, touching on the Ronnie’s notorious “emotional detachment”—for better or worse. To Thrasymachus here:
The most troubling thing about Reagan’s illness isn’t that conservatives don’t want people mentioning Reagan’s cognitive deficits as President now, but that they were somehow successful in keeping the media from seriously discussing it then.
TheLastLiberal jumps to Reagan’s defense:
Reagan didn’t pay attention to details because his mind was on the Big Picture. Einstein was a poor student, never learned to tie his shoes, couldn’t handle money, etc. Shall we conclude that Einstein was “out of it” or had Alzheimer’s?? I think not.Reagan had his mind on “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.” Now, there’s a detail. His speechwriters took that sentence out of that speech five times, and Reagan put it back in—six times. It was an earth-shattering, world-changing sentence. He knew it …If Reagan were still in office, would we be fighting over nonsense, or would we be helping these people who are our actual allies?? Big picture, or Trivial Pursuit?
The_Slasher-8 here and historyguy here try to set the historical record straight on exactly what Reagan did or did not accomplish during his two terms in the White House. In related news, Slate’s editorial board has put horoscopes on the agenda as a possible addition to the magazine at an indeterminate date … KA10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Howard Dean “still wants to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.”

Give it to me straight, Doc: “I want them to put down those flags and vote Democratic—because the need for quality health care, jobs and a good education knows no racial boundaries.” Flag flak—along with Dean’s relatively centrist views of gun control—have incited the indignation of his opponents and a little schadenfreude from Fraysters. But Joe_JP jumps to Dean’s defense here:

The message, as important, that the Democrats have the potential to attract many Republicans now attract because deep down their interests can be met by the Democrats is missed. One can blame Dean, in part, for using a bad metaphor. But, let’s also remember the whole point of using it.
Joe quotes Jack Balkin’s blog as a well-articulated explanation of Dean’s message. Expressing her long-standing suspicion here of Dean (and her support of John Kerry), zinya writes:
To my fellow Dems, Dean, re NRA, shows an unwise pandering off the edge … again! I urge my fellow Dems who are Deaniacs at this point to reconsider … :) how much we really have yet to know or see about Dean …

Meanwhile, Kerry has walked the talk for 20 yrs of voting priorities consistently dear to our hearts—everything from environment to energy independence (and jobs!) to social justice to education to internationalism.
Joe’s defense of Dean in this thread can be found here and here, where he points out that Hubert H. Humphrey was a “supporter of gun rights” and that southerners Wesley Clark and John Edwards may very well hold views similar to Dean’s. Was Will Saletan right about Dean back in June? Is he a closet centrist whose heretofore liberal base has embraced him hook, line, and sinker, despite his iffy views on some core Democratic issues?  Among Republicans in Kausfiles Fray, Neocon quotes the WSJ’s editorial page here, and suggests that “this may be the last time you ever read the WSJ editorially admiring Howard Dean.” Here, Neocon takes some pleasure in the Dems infighting over the southern issue:
It’s like watching someone you really dislike walk into traffic. You can’t help but yell, “Hey stupid, that’s a tractor trailer bearing down on you.” But they just wave cavalierly and walk right into its path.

At least we tried to warn them. Yes? What else can we do? Huh?
The Dean strategy is a curious one, and will be an interesting test for the Democratic base. On balance, here is a guy with very little appeal to Democrats long enraptured by identity politics—with the possible exception of gays. Jews and blacks are particularly suspicious of Dean. In parts of the south, he’s going with a “keep your gun and your job” message. If he’s going to pull through, it will be by flouting identity politics and single issues in favor of a less traditional brand of class warfare—one that emphasizes the natural rights of citizens over the traditional, shrill Gore-ish call for soaking the rich … KA 9:10 a.m.

Saturday, November 1, 2003

Douglas Gantenbein’s contrarian piece on firefighters as pampered Big Union schlubs garnered indignation from across the spectrum. Firefighters, Californians, and air tankers (see below) joined the Fray to pile on Gantenbein. Fraysters had some fun with the new peach-colored double saw being pimped by the Department of Treasury. And Chatterbox Fray was active this week, with readers piping in on both Amazon and Charles Murray’s Billboard rankings of history’s most notable physicists. Subject: Rumbling on the plantation, Sharpton sounding conservativeRe: Armchair political analysis in Today’s Papers FrayFrom: WesLie_ClarkDate: Sat Nov 1 0351hThere is trouble in the Democratic Party. Earlier this week, Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia announced that he was breaking with his party’s leadership and would support—and even campaign for—President Bush’s re-election next year. On Tuesday, the Rev. Al Sharpton, pastor and presidential candidate, opened another fissure within the party. Responding to Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s plans to endorse Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination, the reverend charged that Mr. Dean’s platform promoted an “anti-black agenda.” This hyperbole unfortunately distracts from some legitimately good ideas being promoted by Mr. Sharpton … A week ago, in Sister Space bookshop in Washington’s U Street corridor, the reverend announced that he supports a two-year grace period from federal taxes for start-up small businesses. “Most small businesses fail in the first year,” he told The Washington Times, “so let’s give entrepreneurs a period of no taxation so they can get their operations on their feet.” If passed into law, such a tax break would have a major impact on the economy. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small businesses, which also produce 40 percent of America’s gross domestic product. In September, Mr. Sharpton warned black voters, “We must not be in a relationship with a Democratic Party that takes us for granted. We must no longer be the political mistresses of the Democratic Party.” … The Sharpton business tax-break plan is a classic Republican issue. So are the social criticisms of welfare, promiscuity and the drug culture that dominate sermons at many urban churches …[Find this post here.] Subject: In Gays We TrustRe: “The Money Pitch: Why spend $32 million to promote the new $20 bill.”From: doodahmanDate: Mon Oct 27 0828hWell, I hope the Christian Right is happy. Keep the gays out of the schools, they shouted. Keep the gays out of the boyscouts, they cried. Keep the gays from getting married, they demanded. It’s a homosexual agenda! It’s a homosexual agenda!

Well, now the money is GAY! Peachy gay. Peachy gay with a bon vivant dapper dan on the Twenty, with wind blown hair straight out of “Queer Eye For The Jacksonian Guy.” Reminds me of the time gays were stamping their currency with triangles and other gay insignia to signify their economic power. But now it’s every danged Twenty.

Hope the Christian Right is happy. Now, every week, in churches and chapels across the Bible Belt and other enlightened regions, fire breathing Baptists and other bastions of Christian tolerance will decry the sodomists and their agenda, and the threat they pose to the moral fiber and Godly imprimature of America. But they won’t turn away a bunch of gaily colored currency. Nope.

They will be slowly but assuredly coopted by the sweet, effeminent coloration of cold hard cash. What could be a more certain way of breaking down heterosexual Christian resistance than making the money gay? It goes to the very core of their Christian existence.

The battle is lost. We are a Gay Nation.
Bruschetta and chai, anyone?[Find this post here.] Subject: A Recovery of Dead PresidentsRe: “The Bush Boomlet: The economy just had a great quarter. Does that really mean it’s booming?From: PubliusTooDate: Fri Oct 31 0804h I say both the recession and the recovery can be attributed more to another person, who is not the President. Alan Greenspan, as chairman of the Fed, has been directing a monetary policy that appears to have caused, if not exacerbated, the recession and more recently a recovery. But don’t believe me. Just look at the hard numbers for yourself. The M1 money stock actually decreased from 1995 until 1998 and was then held stagnant from 1998 until 2001. The Fed did not begin increasing the M1 money supply until 2001. You can find the charts on these numbers at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s web site here []. At the risk of oversimplifying (the M2 and M3 money stock figures are not nearly as dramatic), it may be time to hold Mr. Greenspan accountable for his failings as well as his successes. Clearly, the threat of deflation spurred Mr. Greenspan finally to act by opening the spigot. Considering, however, that the deflation threat may have been caused by the lack of growth in the money supply during a period of very high productivity growth, Mr. Greenspan’s belated generosity deserves faint praise at best …[Find this post here.] Subject: Cushy Job you say?!Re: “Smoke and Mirrors: Stop calling firefighters ‘heroes.’From: Air_TankerDate: Fri Oct 31 1941hI am an air tanker pilot. I work six days a week, fourteen hours a day for the entire western wildfire season … Most years I go on the road for between eight to ten months. No weeks off, no family visits, no nothing other than what the USFS feels I need … But, I guess he didn’t include tanker pilots in his “survey” of fire fighters because, being a contract tanker pilot I am not considered a firefighter by the Federal Government. Oh, I see lots of fire as I drop retardant on burning places and things, usually from an altitude of less than one hundred feet, moving at an airspeed of 135 MPH. But I am not a firefighter. If I die in a crash as have seven of my collegues in the last year, then all I (my survivors) qualify for is state workmens compensation (less than 8 thousand dollars) …Courage is not the abscence of fear,
but the knowledge and judgement that something else
is more important than that fear.
The brave do not live forever,
but the timid do not live at all.
It is better to have known fear
and to have truely lived life to its fullest
than to have taken the safer course.

Anyone who fights fires who tells you that they have never had the living shit scared out of them is either foolhardy, or lying.

I wrote those words above when I began flying tankers. I carry a print of it in my flight bag. Every time I get scared and say I’m not going to do this anymore, I read it. It keeps me doing the job. The memory of my fallen comrades keeps me doing the job. My family and pilot friends who don’t fly tankers think I’m nuts. Maybe I’ll get killed doing the job like most of my friends. But when I smell the smoke, and I see peoples homes going up in smoke, it pisses me off. I vent that anger at the fire. It pushes me to do SOMETHING! Am I a hero? Hell, I can’t even get a date. My career choice is so all consuming, I have no personal life. Just killing fire. That is all.[Find these posts here and here.]BTC News Goes Global: Taking on Roger Ailes, elbowing Al Gore out of his presumptive constituency, Betty_the_Crow opens up shop with BTC News. The outlet transmits missives on the “Politics of D’oh” and “Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms,” among other tasty morsels … KA 10:20 a.m.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Geopolitical Isometrics: Slate’s chief political correspondent, William Saletan, “has an uncanny talent for symmetrical denunciation,” according to amileoj. What’s Saletan’s m.o.? The way amile sees it, Saletan:

[seizes] upon a statement, event or trend on the left and redescribing it in such a way as to make it seem the perfect twin of some past bit of right wing shamelessness.
Most recently, amile refers to yesterday’s Ballot Box piece “Decline of the Wes,” in which Saletan calls out Gen. Wesley Clark for participating “in the same self-fulfilling wave of determined pessimism and obstruction he battled four years ago” when commanding NATO’s effort in Kosovo. Saletan’s characterization of Clark as a “hypocritical obstructionist” infuriates amile for even the slightest suggestion of moral equivalency between Kosovo and Iraq:
In Kosovo, NATO went to war to prevent a human rights disaster in the making. In Iraq, human rights disasters never moved us to action, while they were actually taking place. Instead, we went to war (apparently) to realize an imperial dream of remaking the entire region in our own image—although no one really knows what it is we are supposed to be accomplishing there now. To oppose the unhindered continuation of that policy (or what is left of it) is neither the moral nor strategic equivalent of failing a test of wills with Slobodan Milosevic. It is, instead, a way of saying, “Time to change the damn policy!”
Read amile’s entire post—which cites other Saletan pieces “elastic” in their rhetorical symmetry—hereGloom Temperature: Robert Pinsky dredges up holiday-themed verse from English poet Robert Bridges (“Low Barometer“). Pinsky praises the evocative sound in Bridges’ work, what White_Rabbit calls “an almost mechanistic precision in the way he uses a great variety of images and sounds to create his intended effect.” For the most part, Poems Fray was indifferent to the poem. Rob_said_that here:
This is an example of why I didn’t go to grad school. As a friend of mine phrased the proposition: now that you’re done studying the great poets and writers (as an undergrad), you can get down to the really minor ones. These lesser lights exist, apparently, to furnish the fodder for countless theses and dissertations—hey, they can’t all write about Shakespeare and Yeats, can they?

Once they’ve steeped themselves in the milieu of minor writing, advanced-degree candidates and recipients acquire a taste for that sort of thing. One professor I had …did his dissertation on A. D. Hope, the Australian poet, and used to try to proselytize me to his point of view from time to time … He reminded me of my uncle, who served in the South Pacific in World War II, and who developed a taste for warm beer because for four years that’s all he ever got to drink. He used to try to get me to drink it too, often by just opening a room-temperature can and handing it to me… Out of affection for him I would usually drink it, but I never got to like it.

I guess Low Barometer is interesting, if you start off with low expectations. But I don’t think Hopkins is in any trouble with posterity, however much Bridges may have eclipsed him while they were alive.

You know, I’m sure Pinsky is a nice guy and well-meaning and all, and I appreciate getting poems every week. So this is where I end my diatribe and just say thanks.

But put a couple of beers on ice for me, will you?
Sure is chilly over in PF … KA2:05 p.m.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Did You Get the Memo? Over the weekend, Zathras mulled over the Rumsfeld-authored memo leaked to the press last Wednesday (featured in Fred Kaplan’s “Rumsfeld’s Pentagon Papers“) and took note of Rumsfeld’s editorial in the WaPo’s Sunday Outlook section, which—unlike internal White House documents—is unequivocally intended for public consumption. Having considered the former document, which he assumes the Secretary of Defense “leaked himself,” Z concludes that Rumsfeld:

is aware of difficulties in the war on terrorism and is pressing his subordinates to find ways of dealing with them. Months from now there will be no talk about how the Defense Department failed to consider how difficult it would be to reduce growing sympathy for terrorists in Islamic countries as it had failed to plan for the possibility of Sunni Arab hostility to the occupation of Iraq. And the questions Rumsfeld asked in his memo are pertinent ones.
The fundamental problem according to Z?
Donald Rumsfeld is not the President.

That is where his problems start. An exceptionally able man who might have made great and historic contributions as Secretary of Defense under a strong President, Rumsfeld’s fate has been to serve under weak ones.
Z elaborates, touching on the likely “frustrations” working under “an insecure, inexperienced President preoccupied with the mechanics of electoral politics” and his belief—buoyed by the memo—that it’s a popular misconception:
that Rumsfeld has just not thought about the possibility that growing Muslim sympathy for terrorism might be influenced more by how the American government presents its case to Muslim countries or how it positions itself with respect to the interminable conflict between Israel and the Palestinians that continues to obsess the Arab media than by anything the Defense Department can do by itself.
The post can be read in its entirety here. For her part, baltimore-aureole thinks that Z may want:
to give more consideration to cheney’s role. isn’t it possible that from his “undisclosed location” he’s actually exerting more influence than rumsfeld, powell, rice, and bush combined?
Gemini believes that all that’s left is the crying: “The process of laying blame is all that’s going on right now.” Robes deals a “Wild Card” into the deck. He discredits Rumsfeld for not anticipating Saddam Hussein 00 the joker in question. Saddam Hussein:
chose his only viable option—Protracted and well funded irregular warfare. What we’re seeing now.

The basic weakness in the coalition’s (and I choose that term with a bit of ironic humor) position is they never considered this particular outcome where the Iraqi Army was virtually disbanded without paying much attention to where they went, the Sunni disposition which was favoring Saddam and very hostile to American/coalition forces.
HiroProtagonist tackles the “credibility gap” component of the proceedings:
this is now rumsfeld, wolfowitz, and powell who are saying it sucks in less than a week. they wanted a little PR pick-me-up by saying things were better, and the press by and large bought in. but earlier this week i think someone (rove?) cut that line of talk off, and intelligently so, before the latest rash of problems. i think someone realized it sounded somewhat false and pollyanna-ish, too nice of a picture compared to reality, and that it had the potential to be bush’s version of the light at the end of the vietnam tunnel, to create a pentagon papers-style “perception gap” between reality and facts on the ground such that bush’s credibility might become doubted. if bush had kept selling that line of happy thoughts right up until the rocket attack, he would look really silly now, eh?
HP seems to suggest agreement with Z’s theory that the administration leaked the memo itself.Is the aftermath in Iraq Bush 43’s price of a gallon of milk?  My Daughter is Sort of a School Bully: A revealing post by RicNCaric in response to Ann Hulbert’s “Elephant in the Room,” last Thursday’s story that discusses the emerging antibullying movement:
I don’t think that either the bullying literature or the conservative critique of this literature is very pertinent. Unlike conservatives, we take the issue seriously. Unlike the bullying literature, we don’t think of Tess even as a future bully, let along a future murderer. Actually, we see our daughter as having considerable leadership potential and want to help her grow into that potential. There are two problems here. The first is to get her to avoid domineering or bullying behavior. The second is to avoid the paralyzing guilt and insecurity that can come with too much criticism and supervision.
Hulbert’s article outlines many of the strategies employed by the antibullying camp.  How is the RicNCaric household confronting the issue? Read RNC’s post here  … KA8:40 a.m.