What’s free game in electoral politics? Should we give pols a pass on all dorm room misbehavior? Anything they say, do, fail to do, ingest, inhale, and throw over a fence prior to the Big 3-0? Is there a statute of limitations on political attacks? TheAList thinks so and presents the Fray with his “ Thirty-Year Rules“:
There has been much talk in this year’s Presidential campaign about the military records of Bush and Kerry. It bears reminding that neither has served in the Armed Forces (to whatever extent) for three decades. It also bears reminding that none of this has anything to do with who will be a better President right now.
I have had it. Back in the day when Bush and Kerry were doing their duty, there used to be a saying “Never trust anyone over 30.” With that in mind, here are my new “30” rules about running for President:
1) Unless you committed a serious felony for which you were convicted, wore a swastika or a white sheet over your head (excepting ghost-themed Halloween costumes worn ON Halloween), whatever bad or good you did before you were age 30 doesn’t count.
2) Any political attack based on events more than 30 years ago, or based on events that occurred while the attackee was under age 30, should be ignored out of hand.
3) Any attack coming from an personal adversary of the attackee for more than 30 years should be ignored out of hand.
4) Any organization that is formed solely to serve as a vehicle to attack a candidate for events more than 30 years old should be ignored out of hand.
5) Any historical event more than 30 years old is not the proper subject for a current political campaign unless it involves discussing the merits of invading Russia in the winter. Anyone who ignores this rule should be ignored while discussing the subject.
6) Anyone who feels the need to bolster their character primarily by discussing what they did more than 30 years ago should make you wonder why they aren’t discussing what good they have done in the 30 years since.
7) Anyone who knew the candidate more than 30 years ago but has not known the candidate in the 30 years since should be ignored.
8) Anyone whose current version of events 30 or more years old is substantially different than it was 30 years ago should be ignored now.
9) Any reasonable political position/affiliation more than 30 years old should be ignored (see Rule 1, above). Anyone who accuses the candidate of flip-flopping based on the 30 year plus old position should be shot in the knees within five days.
10) Anyone who votes based primarily on what a candidate did 30 or more years ago should get over him/herself.
Friday, April 30, 2004
Assassin of the Day: We should’ve seen it coming. Earlier this week, Ang_Cho relation chango jumped to the defense of Paris Hilton and Tammy Faye Baker. So it’s no surprise that he rips Jill Hunter Pellettieri (“All Those Teen Actresses“) as
guilty of the very vices she pretends to admonish in the industry by oversexualizing these actresses—judging them based upon their age, beauty (and wealth) without reference to their CAREERS.The meat of Ang_Cho’s post, in which Pellettieri is most guilty of objectification:
In other words, they do not EARN their wealth, but have somehow ensnared “as a select crew of older men cultivating their inner Humberts” and audiences out of millions of dollars by using their “orangey tan, fake blond hair, too-trendy fringe, and football-player eyeliner.” This is the Biblical imagery of the Harlot par excellance, and Pellettieri is the Angry God who wishes them the Hollywood equivalent of eternal damnation: “by starring in second-rate Broadway shows.”The_Curmudgeon reserves judgment on Pellettieri and instead points out that
This is not an assessment: it is a moral condemnation of (presumed and projected) female sexuality, and it is Pellettieri who is the real Humbert.
what’s really changed is that little girls adore these girls. In the typical eight-year-old girl’s bedroom, you’ll find posters of Hilary/Amanda/Something-Olsenish. Thirty years ago, there’d be posters of Donny/Bobby/Keith. Twenty years ago, there was Kirk/Something-Corey.Are we entering the era of same-sex idolatry whereby teen boys worship Eminem and their female counterparts are all over the girls? Enter Assessment Fray by clicking here. Of Canadian Makin’: Juno notes Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s proposal for a version 2.0 United Nations, so to speak:
The G-20 platform that Martin has proposed includes representation from North and South, East and West, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist as well as obviously including the most powerful nations in the world from an economic and military perspective.HLS2003 finds the proposal “fascinating,” but presents a few potential pitfalls here, including the “perceived hegemony by Western industrial powers.” GaryWmoderate attests here that “The UN, for all of its faults, is far more effective than people give credit,” but concedes that on issues of “security and trade,” the idea may have some merit … KA6:15 p.m.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Fraysters are at a crossroads on Iraq. Is the sky falling—or is that merely disinformation? Do we partition Iraq, or mount another offensive assault?
Subject: “Partition Would Be a Disaster”
Re: “Kurd Sellout Watch, Day 421: Should we partition Iraq?”
Date: Tue Apr 27 2326hFrom the safety of the United States, partition seems like an easy, relatively painless solution. Noah says that the worst that will happen is that we would give up on making Iraq a democratic state, establishing the rule of law, avoiding theocracy and ending violence in the Sunni regions. Yet we would be giving the Iraqi people their “natural” borders, supposedly rectifying the mistakes of 80 years ago.
Unfortunately, partition is never so clean and would inevitably result in far more bloodshed than anything we have seen so far. It’s easy to talk about the Kurdish north, the Sunni triangle and the Shi’a south, but boundaries between ethnic groups are blurred and hard to define. Where exactly would we draw the borders between our new states? Would the Sunnis or the Kurds get Kirkuk and Mosul? Why should any side that is unhappy accept our borders? The Sunnis are fairly heavily armed and they certainly disagree that they have no oil to speak of. Why wouldn’t they fight to keep what they feel is theirs? In any event, why would the Kurds and the Shi’a agree to share oil revenues with their former overlords?
Even more importantly, any borders would inevitably leave communities stuck on the wrong side. What happens to Shi’a who find themselves in Sunni territory, or vice versa? They would find themselves pressured to leave their homes and move to “their” homeland. It would not be long before roving armed gangs began to ethnically cleanse their territory, either by forcing members of minority ethnicities to become refugees or simply by killing them… Partition is inevitably tragic. Yugoslavia, India and Pakistan, Ireland, Cyprus, Israel and others should all serve as warnings of the dangers. Czechoslovakia is a unique example, but it was a democratic state that chose to divide amicably along clear, existing internal administrative boundaries without complaint by either ethnic group.
It is also a mistake to think that partition is necessary. All borders are artificial and no state is, in fact, populated by a single nation. It is not inevitable that different communities will go to war. We simply never hear about those that do not. For example, after the fall of communism, those who argue that ethnic differences make conflict inevitable would be hard pressed to explain why Hungarians and Romanians did not fight in Transylvania, or why Russian minorities in the Baltics were not cleansed, or why Tartars in Russia did not demand independence. Each of these communities had long histories of bloody conflict. Even Germany is an example, since it was created less than 150 years ago out of a mixed bag of Protestant and Catholic states, states with centuries of history of sectarian conflict.
Partition is an unacceptable solution to Iraq. It would guarantee the civil war that we would seek to prevent and result in a disaster rivaling that in Yugoslavia and every drop of blood spilt would also be on our hands.
Subject: “The Fallujah Dilemma?”
Re: “The Fallujah Dilemma: If the Marines attack, we can no longer pretend the war is over.”
Date: Wed Apr 28 0904h
Personally I refuse to accept the concept of a real dilemma. There is always a better or best solution.
Last week I spoke for several hours with a Master Sergeant just returned from Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. The division was sponsoring 160 soceer teams in their area, the University of Mosul is up and running with sixteen functioning colleges. There are schools reopened and the power is on. This belies Mr. Kaplan’s vision of iminent disaster.
The perspective of the soldier on the ground is that there are two problem areas in Iraq, Baghdad and Fallujah. Fallujah is in fact nicknamed the “Wild West” as it is just west of Baghdad.
Fallujah is a problem but it is not the entire country nor does what is happening there represent the entire situation. The concept of the Sunnis and Shiites really uniting is ridiculous. Sadr’s thugs are using some Taliban tactics, like harassing women who are not completely covered. Sadr needs to be contained. Fallujah has to be defeated, different situations but hardly a doomsday scenario.
Subject: “Boobs, F*cking, War, and Congress”
Date: Mon Apr 26 1151hThe road to “Decency” on the public networks is paved with many good intentions. Meant to prevent the reoccurrence of the half time display of public nudity(?) by Janet Jackson, the new rules as proposed by the House impose stiffer fines on not only the station but also the performer (Senate Bill) if deemed necessary … For those of you that are catching up on this, Stern is the leading violator of the old Decency laws to a tune of ~$1.4 million dollars … U2 singer Bono got quite a bit of attention for his use of the words “f*cking brilliant” in the 2003 Golden Globe Ceremonies.
As a result, more shows are removing scenes that can be construed as indecent such as cleavage in The American Experience documentary “Emma Goldman” on PBS. I can hardly imagine running the movie “Roots” without some form of fuzziness covering up the breasts that are shown in the early parts of it … Most recently in Kalamazoo, Michigan; one radio announcer lost his position due to political commentary WKZO.”…
It is funny how a TV network shows a little nipple on the big 48” boob screen and Congress will leap into action with new rules, regs and fines to be used by the FCC. Congress finds that dress codes on TV are important, when more cleavage can be seen and is exposed in many high schools …They are more concerned over “f*cking brilliant” being stated on the air when it is blasé at most schools and mouthed frequently by 8 year olds. Yet we can not seem to get them to react to Unemployment benefits to tide people over until the next wave of jobs (promised for the last year and a half now) show up. They can not seem to understand the crisis faced by the millions of people that lack medical insurance. Maybe if Donald Trump said: “You are F*cking Fired You Boob”, maybe then Congress would take note of the issues faced by the millions out of work…
A hidden amendment to these new rules for the FCC (House Bill) would limit the concentration of media stations under one owner (which was passed by the FCC on a 3 to 2 vote in June 2003). The Senate version would freeze the concentration allowance until the FCC could undertake a study.[ Forbes ].” Censorship coupled with something good. Something for everyone! …
Subject: “Judicial Precedent v. Practiced Deceit”
Re: “I’ve Got a Secret: Dick Cheney’s absolute right to know and not tell.”
Date: Wed Apr 28 0804hFrom the transcripts I’ve seen, it looks as if a majority of the Justices are wary about giving the plaintiffs a victory that might reduce the inclination of the Executive Branch to seek outsider advice. And, you know, it’s a bona-fide concern; one can recognize the chilling effects of hyper-process-ism.
So there’s that jurisprudential issue, which will probably be decided in favor of the Administration.
And then there’s the political issue. Under the guise of creating a non-partisan task force to dispassionately assess national energy policy, the Administration basically got a bunch of carbon-fuel cronies to sit around a table and write a preposterously self-serving, anti-environmental subsidy wish list. It was all a cynical fraud. If the court cases serve to expose that fact, all to the good.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Warmonger? You? Traditional Bush administration critics Thrasymachus and PresterJohn can’t get aboard Fred Kaplan’s anti-nuke program in War Stories (“Our Hidden WMD Program: Why Bush is spending so much on nuclear weapons.”). Thrasymachus puts it this way:
Defense is about deterrence. And deterrence is about instilling fear. The American nuclear arsenal, I submit, is literally the scariest thing on Earth. Given the hundreds of billions of dollars this country spends on defense every year, 6 billion seems like a reasonable amount to spend to have the most horrifying thing on Earth at your disposal. RMolineaux answers T in Hegelian fashion by stating, “More military force will only create more terrorism.” More from RM:
We have staring us in the face the inevitable result of excess military power - the temptation to use it foolishly…With the overwhelming military advantages of the U.S., combined with the weaknesses of human nature, misadventures like Iraq become inevitable. The temptations of military power are overwhelming. The illusion that all political problems can be solved by military force becomes compellingly fashionable. Into this pathological mix, we are now adding nuclear weapons. PJ, in agreeing with Thrasymachus, dovetails his argument into a larger critique of Bush fiscal policy. For PJ…
The real problem seems to be the one that always plagues us - how to allocate scarce resources. For instance, the recent debate about the draft has shed light on a long-known fact - our military is too small to do what we expect it to do. In fact, we are not spending enough on the military, if we want to maintain our status as a hyperpower. The solution? Click here. Forget Goteborg: FrayEditor — whose first automobile was a 1979 Volvo with 90,000 miles and a couple of temperamental fuses — found this aesthetic assassination, inspired by Toby Young’s Wednesday Diary entry, amusing. And as an Angeleno, FrEd was similarly entertained by Fraysters’ reactions to Young’s culinary choices while trolling around Los Angeles. Check out oldie here on Young’s veneration of the *&@#^* Cheesecake Factory (and thanks to Auros-4 for linking up Diary Fraysters to Sara Dickerman’s 2002 piece, “Battle of the Middlebrow Chains.”) Want Ads: For Hire — attorney/improv comic-cum-advice columnist with penchant for scathing political commentary and a pathological disgust for Christopher Hitchens seeks overseas assignment for current affairs e-zine:
For a term life insurance policy, and $20,000 plus expenses, they can send me to Iraq, and I will get into Fallujah and/or Najaf. I’ll stay there a minimum of three months, up to six months, and then see what happens…I’ll need cash for an interpreter, a WIFI lap top and other communication stuff (I’ll bring it back), a camera and about ten days to bone up on Iraqi social customs and some detail stuff. I’ll need a lot of baksheesh. Other than that, I’m completely able and capable….Do I think you guys would entertain this offer? Well, why the fuck not? It’ll be good publicity for the Slate and the Fray. It’s peanuts in terms of cash. And none of you have to risk any of your precious asses. And if any Slate hack wants to go too, that’s fine with me. Send Hitchens along– he’ll be easy to hide behind… Who’s the applicant? Click here … KA10:15 a.m.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
After months of persistent reproach from Press Box, Judith Miller responds to Jack Shafer. Which piece broke the camel’s back? The April 13 installment in which Shafer praises 60 Minutes for owning up to an iffy March 2002 profile on Ahmad Chalabi. In retrospect, Lesley Stahl devoured an indeterminate amount of baloney from an Iraqi military defector—and the producers of the show saw fit to come clean. To underscore The New York Times’ reticence in issuing a similar recantation, Shafer quotes Times Executive Editor Bill Keller. Not so fast, writes Miller in an e-mail to Slate editors:
Shafer not only took Bill Keller’s response out of context, he selectively edited it in a self-serving manner—the very sins for which he so often takes others to task. Furthermore, writes Miller, for a guy with a vendetta,
… not once has Shafer ever contacted me for comment about my work, despite his relentless and baseless campaign against it. I may have been hard to reach during the five months I spent reporting in Iraq, but others managed to do so.For the full text of Miller’s e-mail, click here … KA1:15 p.m.
Vox Populi: Medical Examiner invades War Stories Fray when MatthewGarth whips up his diagnoses of President Bush and his foreign policy team. For general practitioners out there in Frayland, MG concludes his post noting that, “This diagnosis leaves out Franks, Shelton, Armitage, Feith, Wolfowitz, Rove, but it’s long enough already.” Fraywatch welcomes additional diagnoses of Administration officials, as well as Democratic opponents as addenda to addenda to this week’s Vox Populi.
Subject: “Iraq Fever, Afghan Flu, and other maladies”
Re: “Sideshow Bob: Why Woodward always misses the point.”
Date: Wed Apr 21 1909hA Bush Administration PDR
As we now know, Cheney had “the fever,” that coo-coo for cocoapuffs Iraq fever. I know what yer thinkin’: what should he take for it? And what do the other Bush folks got? Is it contagious? Feel free to contribute better versions than my own armchair physicianning.
Bush: Multiphasic, aphasic, final phasic plasticity: Periods of remarkably suggestibility followed by an inability to reconstruct the scene of suggestion; can appear dissimulating but is not (also easily confused with malingering). Once “programmed” the MAFPP sufferer cannot be redirected (he “harbors grudges”). The weak ego that makes suggestibility possible and revision unlikely also results in a tendency to self-medicate and fantastic narrative inventions in which his so-called compassionate actions are taken on behalf of various powerless others (his loser father, those “left behind” in schools, shut-ins). The symptomatology is such that it frequently convinces non-Freudians that the old Viennese might just have had a point, after all. Prescription: A group hug.
Rumsfeld: Crazy Sexy Coolioiditis: Exhibits traits of the classical “intellectual narcissist” (linguistic facility, overwrought self-dramatizations of his excessive concentration, tendency to concentrate on totems of individuality (e.g., “transformation”) at the expense of regular planning processes (e.g., “Uh, what do we do now, boss?)). Need for publicity subjects himself to ridicule by swaths of the intellectual classes on the one hand and the bizarre confirmatory hagiographic MASH-note writing of female neoconservatives on the other. In the right cultural matrix, is capable of pop-hip-hop stardom; in the wrong one, a potential hillbilly heroin addict with a talkradio dynasty. Hates signs of authority in others; not big on “details.”
Powell: Abasal Informatoma: After being ritually ignored by superiors, the AI sufferer responds by making an exaggerated display of his hang-doggedness in the face of the insufferable, scheming, monomaniacal fools around him. This display is usually exhibited to both the superior and to journalists (although the guilt associated with the latter requires him to self-anonymize, internalizing the rejection he feels). Regardless of success of the display, frequently revisits scenes of abasement in order to deliver neutral, homiletic pronouncements that provide him with closure by forswearing involvement (“doctrines” that master the obvious, and keep you from getting hurt in the first place).
Rice: Gaddis’s Dissociation: An inveterate tendency to spectate at one’s task, a feeling that rather than interrupt or disturb the “flow,” one should simply allow the system to work. The dissociation usually emerges most strongly when the patient is confronted with a situation in which one hands will, inevitably, get dirty. Those especially at risk include previous sufferers of Malia’s Malady—fugitives from situations derived from realist or proletarian fictions in which a desired catastrophe comes about just as one hoped but without any action taken (witnesses to the collapse of the Soviet Union, for example). GD clusters have been found at a number of conservative West Coast academic institutions (see “Pepperdinian Paralysis,” “The Hoover Hover,” and “Leland Stanford Standoff”).
Tenet: Carnac’s Coma, aka, the Swami Swoon: A willingness to make predictions about anything, based on anything, or to criticize those made by others. The criteria for the predictions and the criticism are nearly always private (“classified”). When called out, patients discuss their histories of correct predictions, not recognizing that even a stopped clock is right 48 times a day, once you throw in all the time zones if you’re using a 12 hour clock, synchronized—do you know how we synch those things? Because it’s really interesting, a lot more interesting than whatever you were asking about, oh, right, WMD. Bouts of CC cluster around December (when the various tabloids release their predictions for the following year). See also “Rose, Pete, WTF?”
This diagnosis leaves out Franks, Shelton, Armitage, Feith, Wolfowitz, Rove, but it’s long enough already.