Take a Seat: The remaining Democratic candidates for president gathered in Los Angeles last night for a sit-down debate — which always reminds Fraywatch of those old panel game shows like To Tell the Truth with Bill Cullen… the panel part, that is, not the Truth part. The best Fray post-debate post? The_Bell here in Ballot Box Fray in response to William Saletan’s analysis. On Saletan’s assertion that Edwards is overselling his appeal to independents, The_Bell digs up a Saletan piece from last week in which Saletan wrote, “In states where the choices of these groups have been measured, Edwards is matching Kerry among independents and beating him among crossover Republicans.” The_Bell responds:
Gee Mr. Saletan, if you seriously believe that you have “been trying harder to get [Edwards] nominated than [Edwards has],” here is my piece of feedback for you. Do not call your boy on the carpet for using the argument that you gave him by employing the same numbers to discredit it that you used to build it with in the first place. Though I suppose you will state proudly and for the record that you have “no regrets” about that.The post includes an insightful look at job outsourcing vis-à-vis health care costs, a sentiment The_Bell shares with run75441 (go here). The_Bell prompts William Saletan to jump into the Fray. Saletan responds here:
I have no regrets.A final word from The_Bell here, and Saletan here. Fraywatch wonders when “electable” and “electability” will be recognized by Microsoft Word. A Fray Mosaic of a Whole Lotta Somewhat Exemplary and Creative Minds: Culturebox Fray is a house divided on the matter of Naomi Wolf’s allegations against Yale and Harold Bloom (Slate’s culture editor, Meghan O’Rourke critiques Naomi Wolf’s in Culturebox here). Hifisnock has little patience for “celebrity scholars” here and offers a wholesale dismissal of Wolf:
I laid out the numbers. They challenged the CW that Kerry was the more electable guy. What they did not do was show that, in Edwards’ oversimplified language, “the independents have been voting for me.”
The record is 4-4 in February. If Edwards had said “the crossover Republicans have been voting for me,” I would have backed him up. But what he said about independents is an exaggeration.
This is why I’m a journalist, not a campaign aide. If I like a candidate, and he goes one way, and the truth goes the other, I’m going with the truth.
Her ‘feminist’ writing has always been weak-kneed, more titillating than critical. As Ms. O’Rourke points out, Wolf’s complaint looks more like self-promotion than a definitive attack on institutional sexual misconduct. And that makes it truly boneless. Here, BeverlyMann thinks that O’Rourke is missing the point:
O’Rourke’s interest seems to be in pointing out that much has changed concerning sexual harassment policy and grievance procedures, at least at Yale, since 1983, and that Wolf uses instances from an earlier era to unfairly tar Yale now. In response to BM, run75441 writes:
But Wolf’s complaint is not that Yale has no formal policy regarding sexual harassment nor that it has no formal grievance procedure. It’s that the current procedure, lovely as its words appear, still apparently is geared toward protecting the guilty from accountability if the guilty are powers within the hierarchy. It’s a truth that certainly transcends Yale, and that transcends the issue of sexual harassment too.
Everytime I have seen this come into play for someone at my level, it has been devastating even if untrue. Companies do not take the time to find out if what has happened is true or not. The male offender is gone that day. Managers are guilty for whatever and rightfully so if only for stupidity and not leaving their sex drive at home. However, this does breed insecurity at work because anything can be said and you are at risk.The BM/run thread continues here. As an English instructor who frequently engages in one-on-ones with students, martingreene offers this:
Every English instructor wants to sit down with his students during his free period, in a library cubicle, to see how “the paper” is doing. I did this in my first term, with students around 17 and 18 years of age, including girls. A senior teacher named Fred S. sat across the deserted room marking papers, as it seemed, while I spent 40 minutes with Ivy, going over her paper on a certain American author. At the end of the period, Fred called me over. He said, I didn’t have to be here this period. I did this so you wouldn’t be alone with that girl, and expose yourself to a charge of something you wouldn’t do, but could be accused of. I stood there like a dummy. I had no idea. I said thanks, I’ll never do it again. I didn’t. All meetings about writing in progress took place after that in my main class room, with others present, certainly with the door to the hall open. I think Naomi W. is full of crap. But Bloom was an idiot to put himself in that situation.To MarkHaag, “The real issue here — I would agree with Wolf — has to do with the nature of the institution.” MH writes his exegesis in a two-part post, here and here. GovernorJohnson takes issue with O’Rourke’s implication that Bloom is innocent until proven guilty. The Guber here:
Why in the world should one’s moral / political evaluation of events at Yale be controlled, or even influenced, by the “innocent until proven guilty” standard applied in criminal courts? The phrase means nothing except that the prosecution bears the burden of proof in criminal cases, which involve the question whether to put a person in the penitentiary or even execute him (or, every once in a while, her). It’s only muddled thinking that applies the phrase in a discussion of the reputation of a blowhard professor and an academic department. What could be less innocent than Yale???Finally, FreitagsPyramid “believes” Naomi Wolf here:
is creating publicity and verisimilitude for next and most ambitious book, perhaps a second “Second Sex”. This post-feminist de Beauvoir thoroughly subjectivizes her Sartres, however, and everyone else. Hell is indeed other people—especially when they haven’t learned their lines and don’t adequately grasp their characters’ motivation regarding Naomi.…well, sort of … KA2:15 p.m.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Fraywatch has never seen the volume of traffic that passed through Movies Fray (some eight posts per minute at one point this afternoon) Wednesday after David Edelstein’s review of The Passion of the Christ appeared on Slate’s front page. A small sampling:
Subject: “The Passion of the Christ, IMHO”
Re: “Jesus H. Christ”
Date: Wed Feb 25 1428hFor all we’d like to avoid it, this was an awful thing. In both meanings of the word - awful as in “terrible”, and awful as in “filling us with awe”. Reading through that part of the Bible, I can’t imagine a serious treatment of this part of the gospels that would anything but hard to watch. A burden of torment you and I can just barely imagine is compressed into those few verses, and this film shows us what those sterile little words actually mean. Just the scourging he went through killed many men. And what crucifixion does to a body is one of the most horrific things you can imagine.
And there’s more! They give short shrift to the rest of what he endured. He was cut away from all who loved and trusted him, betrayed by his dear friend. He went through all the spiritual pain we would have had to go through in Gethsemenae. Then he took our physical punishment as well…Those who are hiding their own discomfort with the concepts in minutia and blamethrowing at either Mr. Gibson or the Jews have missed the point. I don’t think the details of who in the crowd was shouting or not are what matters here. I don’t care if the Aramaic word for “washing” is spelled differently in your books. Those are just smokescreens. The things he suffered were OUR fault. Not those ancient Jews, not the Romans who stood by. Your sin and my sin was striped across his back, carried through the streets and spit on, and hung on that cross.
This is one of the hardest things to come to grips with in the Gospels. We have to face that these horrible things that are usually tossed off in laundered formal style were done to a man, and for us. He was only a human man at that time, and he withstood that. A lot of people don’t like to think about it. And if you are one of those, you are not going to enjoy this film.Personally, I don’t think this film was meant to be enjoyed. It was meant to make you think. The film’s job is to get onto to our violence and blood-soaked movie screens and into our hearts and makes us look at the price that was paid for the incredible gift we were given. And once we have our nose rubbed in the price, maybe we’ll value that gift a little higher. And anything that can grab us by the viscera and do that is worthwhile.[Find this entire post here.]
Subject: Antichristianity … the new anti-Semitism”
Re: “Jesus H. Christ”
Date: Wed Feb 25 1712hI’m completely shocked at how so many of the so-called “reviews” of this movie have been so virulently and blatantly anti-Christian. This Edelstein review is worse than most in this regard. I found it even more offensive than Ann Hornaday’s review in the Washington Post, which called the film “pornographic” and said it was “troubling” that Gibson’s movie seemed to come from a point of view that the gospels were actually something like eyewitness accounts.
How is it that otherwise liberal people can’t see the intolerance here. Christians are essentially being told that the gospels are inherently anti-Semitic. They’re being told that their core religious beliefs are somehow dangerous and insidious.
I’m not a practicing Christian, but I have friends and loved ones who are, and frankly I’m sickened by the anti-Christian response this movie has generated.
The Christians I know are sick of being treated like hateful, ignorant yokels. The concerted attacks on this film, and the associated attacks on Christian belief, are the principle reason why this film will be a blockbuster. It’s called backlash.[Find this post here.]
Subject: “Are you freakin’ retarded?”
Re: “Jesus H. Christ”
Date: Thu Feb 26 0107h
The fact that this movie puts the focus of an entire culture on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ should be seen by any christian as a victory for the advancement of our message. The fact that people had to pay 8 bucks to see it is a small price to pay, and Mel put up his own money in advance. I’m glad to help him pay for a great evangelistic tool. THIS is the way to touch a visual culture. Get real. Get a clue. Finding ways to help people look at what Christ did for them is the WHOLE POINT OF EVANGELISM.[Find this post here.]
Subject: “Edelstein on Fresh Air”
Re: “Jesus H. Christ”
Date: Wed Feb 25 2233h…I haven’t seen the movie, and I do not wish to. There’s something very wrong when church leaders across America are much more concerned with the suffering of Jesus than his resurrection. By obsessing over the death and not the resurrection or subsequent ascendance, Christians seem all too willing to forget some of the more significant points of Christianity, such as forgiveness. None of the accounts I have heard say anything of forgiveness. If Mel intended that concept to get through, he seems to have failed. If this movie inspires some Christians to martyrdom or vengeance, it will have been a great disservice to humanity. We have all too many contemporary examples of what vengeance and martyrdom lead to.
Fundamentalism doesn’t care about context or the fact that the story of the passion was written down at least 60 years after the fact. Historically accurate it is not. In this case, by fixating on the death story, Gibson seems to be issuing a call to arms to Christians.
By showing Roman guards and Jews beating and laughing at Jesus (I’m going by several reviews from friends and newspapers), he seems to want Christians to be angry about the way in which Christ suffered. But angry at what or whom? Is this, in his own way, Mel’s response to the perceived Muslim threat? Perhaps it’s not, but is it not probable that some fundamentalists will take this as a call to arms against all religions that do not recognize Jesus as the Christ? And if you look around, which religion do you think will face the brunt of this anger?
Mel is pushing an agenda of division and anger, not healing, unity or peace…[Find this post here.]
Monday, February 23, 2004
Man of La Mancha: Neocon is giddy—or perhaps he frequently breaks out in song—as he serenades Ralph Nader’s entrance into the presidential contest over in Kausfiles Fray:
There’s something touching about a seventy year old man going forth to once again slay the dragons of his imagination. Ralph Nader is our very own Don Quixote— brave, determined, and slightly out of his mind. I think a lot of people, of differing political points of view, have to admire a man, such as Ralph Nader, who has chosen to pursue his personal “Impossible Dream”—”no matter the cost, no matter the price.”Find Neo’s complete liner notes here. JimmytheCelt prefers prayer to song here, while Diogenesnow plays the story straight here, discussing—among other things why, “Some people who are great dissidents would make poor leaders.” D elaborates:
I think Ralph Nader serves a very useful role as a consumer advocate and critic of the establishment (though I did prefer the movie theater popcorn with coconut oil). I just think the man has a sadly primitive view of the political process and would make an incompetent leader.… and scolds Nader for
minimizing the differences between Democrats and Republicans.In BB Fray, Clear_View deftly uses Dennis Kucinich to illustrate this point. Here, starterkit goes one further, taking issue with Chatterbox’s “it’s a free country” posture toward a Nader candidacy:
Yes, it’s a free country and all of that, but running for president is NOT Nader’s business. Typically, if someonee asked something like, say, the dimensions of your genitalia, you would reply ‘I’m sorry, but that really is my business.’ If, however, you appeared on a nationally televised news program, and announces your intention to insert said genitalia into America’s rectum, that is no longer ‘my business.’ Do you understand, or shall I demonstrate?Fraywatch will pass on the demonstration because it has witnessed a Nader rally up-close. Who will you find at a Nader for President rally? Those in the “citizenry,” as his Web site posts, who “wish to declare their independence from corporate rule and expanding domination”? Women? Latinos? Blue-collar laborers? Immigrants? Gays? The underclass? No. Head to the nearest Nader ‘04 tour stop and you’ll find a lot of white guys in earth shoes, and hipsters with ironic Izods—in short, those who cannot delineate between Republicans and Democrats and, frankly, those who can afford the luxury of political myopia. In fact, a Democratic administration would rob Nader backer of his favorite pastime. What would Nader voters do without the grist for his organic mill afforded to him by a second Bush administration?Four Non-Blondes: Last night, HBO closed up shop on Sex & the City. AReader-2 comments on Dana Stevens’ eulogy and analysis, specifically on the parallel between the City girls and Austen:
it’s remarkable to me how many women secretly wanted Sex and the City to be a made for Lifetime opus in the first place (“yay, Steve!”?) It’s rather obvious, however, that the precursors of Sex and the City weren’t Alcott or Austen, but those flicks featuring three women on the loose (The Greeks Had a Word for Them, Three on a Match, etc.) that used to be a staple of the silver screen. That material has now moved to television, a better place for it.Meanwhile, across town, Matt Haber has been taking a lot of heat as the boy-who-doesn’t-get-it for his piece last Friday. Biteoftheweek comes to Haber’s defense here, while db102 piles on here … KA5:55 p.m.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
The Reading of the Tea Leaves, Chapter Three: Howard Dean’s departure from the political stage continues to evoke glowing epitaphs, many of which have already achieved soundbyte status—“Dean lit a spark …”; “Dean made Democrats proud to be Democrats again”; “Dean set the agenda for the Democratic agenda.” Leave it to The_Bell to excerpt E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End to pen his obit of the Dean’s candidacy:
Here is the passage from Howard’s End that I think captures best both what “went wrong” as well as Dean’s lasting legacy.It is only that people are far more different than is pretended. All over the world men and women are worrying because they cannot develop as they are supposed to develop. Here and there they have the matter out, and it comforts them. Don’t fret yourself … Develop what you have …A place, as well as a person, may catch the glow. Don’t you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness. Differences, eternal differences, planted by God in a single family, so that there may always be color; sorrow perhaps, but color in the daily gray.Dean is far from ended, of course … But even should he never rise to national prominence again, the worst that can be said of Howard Dean’s burst bubble is not that voters began to see him as bad but merely as too good to be true. There is certain nobility in missing because you aimed too high with which Dean and his supporters may comfort themselves. And while that quality will never pass practical muster in a candidate, it is a very fine quality indeed to remain rooted in the spirit of a Party and of a nation. HLS2003 draws an interesting parallel between Dean’s campaign and the Dole candidacy of 1996 here:
George W. Bush is the new Clinton, and the Democrats are the new Republicans. That’s what Howard Dean tapped into, to generate his “bubble” of money and support. He adapted to mirror the feelings of core Democrats—but it turned out it wasn’t ideas he adopted, but a persona. Dean was “angry” and “pugnacious” and “combative” and all those other adjectives because he was trying to appeal to Democrats seething with a deep, gut-level hatred of George Bush. People who would give their front teeth for a baseball bat and 10 minutes alone with Bush in a locked room. Dean gave a voice to their hatred. He made it his defining characteristic. “I opposed the war while Kerry voted for it,” was a euphemism for “I hated George Bush as much as you did, while Kerry was cozying up to him.” It’s de rigueur for Dean backers to attribute his downfall to the media’s needling of the Governor, and dimwitted presents the case cogently enough here, as does Woodg8 here. Au Pair, Mon Frere: While zigman lauds Caitlin Flanagan’s efforts in Culturebox’s dialogue on nannies and their place in the post-feminist home, the vast majority of Fraysters across the ideological spectrum have spent the past three days groaning. PDP captures the general sentiment here:
But at some point, Democrats couldn’t stand that kind of public exposure of an ugly part of themselves. What they saw wasn’t 1972—when simply not enough people agreed with their ideas—it was 1996, when Republicans let their hatred boil out into public view. Hatred is a powerful weapon, and it’s infectious; I don’t pretend it’s not. When you have enough people hating, you can sometimes get the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” effect. But even though hating is an effective tool, it’s not supposed to be on the surface. Dean was too in-your-face with it, and he was blowing their cover. So began the push to get someone “electable” instead of this “angry” candidate. They didn’t want to get rid of the hate, just its public face.
I confess to not having read Flanagan’s cri de coeur (well, OK, I couldn’t get past the fifth paragraph because it seemed utterly obtuse). But Mosle’s take seems right on: Flanagan seems to be misinterpreting a macroeconomic trend as a personal ethical problem. And ultimately, I have a hard time getting worked up about this for the very reason Mosle identifies: most nannies’ jobs just aren’t so bad compared to, say, waitresses’ jobs, factory workers’ jobs, etc. JackCerf writes that “Ehrenreich et al have gone to a lot of effort to state the obvious point that class trumps gender.” NeverHome grumbles that she’s “truly sick to death of rich people calling themselves ‘middle-class.’ ” And destor23, after rebutting the notion that a workers’ revolution starts with the employers, kindly asks, “let’s drop the phrase ‘professional class’ shall we? It covers up more than it reveals.” So far as paying Social Security and FICA taxes for nannies, Sassafrass says, not so fast:
Consider, if Mom pays social security for nanny, the nanny is her “employee” for tax purposes. That means Mom also has to withhold taxes. That $1,000 bi-weekly check just lost $150 in federal income taxes and some amount for state income taxes. Plus another $75 in federal social security and some amount for state programs. Plus Mom has to pay 7.5%-10% employer-side payroll taxes, PLUS the service fee for a payroll service to handle it all. As between Mom and Nanny, about a third of the cash has just been paid to third parties. Why not give that to Nanny directly, I’m sure she’d prefer the cash flow more than “doing the right thing.” Matthew_JD offers a critique of Flanagan’s piece in the Atlantic Monthly (and, by extension, some of the points in her entries in this dialogue) here … KA3:55 p.m.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Puppet Government: Quebecois nationalists are peeved over Conan regular Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and his Canuck-baiting. Here, CaptainRonVoyage tries to straighten out the angry tongue troopers:
The heart of “Triumph’s” shtick is that he’s a Don Rickles-style “insult comic” who’s also a dog—hence his name, “Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.” He’s going to tell jokes that “hit below the belt,” and well, you’d better just laugh at yourself, because otherwise you’ll be the world’s largest landmass choosing to pick a fight with … a hand puppet. IP Fray welcomes Bloquista rebuttals. Internal Strife (and the Assassin of the Day): In Kausfiles Fray, doodahman is all over Mickey Kaus for keeping the light on the alleged John Kerry scandal:
So, who gives a shit? You? Maybe … No one else. Everyone watched in total horror at the slo mo train wreck that Clinton’s “scandal” became. You also might recall, back in THAT day, that the country had the luxury of obsessing over such crap. Under democractic leadership, we had plenty o’ jobs, peace, security and still that last tattered shred of privacy and civil liberty. Now, with Al Qaeda and their ilk putting the national panties in a wad, unemployment crushing the middle class, and a brand new quagmire to sink into, you want the media to chase some potential illicit Kerry snatch.On the matter of Kerry’s political courage (or lack of it), Mitch prescribes “how Kerry can prove us wrong,” alluding to Tom Friedman’s op-ed piece in the Sunday New York Times. Left Turn Only: Whereas Bryan Curtis drew a parallel between Bush and Richard Nixon in ”NASCAR’s Silent Majority: The roots of Bush’s Daytona strategy,” JanePaine offers a contrast here. Retief here, and DeePee here, believe that NASCAR voters can read a jobs report like anyone else. Epistemology of the Verse: Here, Ted_Burke brings in some outside reading for Poems Fray, an essay titled, “The Mystique of the Difficult Poem,” by Steve Kowit. Why? “to provoke, anger, and generate a rethinking why we bother to write poems.” The result—a perspicacious thread with commentary from several PF standouts, including MaryAnn here and Montfort here:
Kowit unloads on the theorists and critics and poets who, I think, truly hate readers. I mean, there is simply no other explanation, for their poetry, for their defense of the impenetrable poetry, and for their overall attitude. They despise us. They dismiss us. They condescend, and smirk, roll their eyes. And while I may be over-emotional about this, at the same time, no, I am not overstating the case. Sometimes the simplest explanation is indeed the correct explanation.While it’s largely incidental to his exegesis, Fraywatch empathizes with Montfort’s paper cuts, courtesy of the “annoying” Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry:
Why is it annoying? No index of titles. No index of first lines. No index of fucking poets! No, to find a poet you should know, you pedestrian slob, about when that poet was born. Yes, because they’re presented chronologically by birth, with absolutely no other guide. In the front is a table of contents, listed of course in ascending numbers of pages. In the back is a bibliography, and guess what? The poets are arranged alphabetically, but with no page numbers to show you where they are. The permission-to-print pages also list them alphabetically, no page numbers. The book seems designed to do what Graham and Bloom and the editor McClatchy think poems should do: discourage you from reading.Emphasis not added … KA2:10 p.m.