Hawks and Doves

“Fat chicks” and war opponents on the Fray.

Senor Bomb: Doodahman’s Dan Senor Boycott, which began here, has officially come to a close. For his part, dood explains:

The motive for the boycott is not that the positions of known liars and frauds are aired. Those positions rise or fall on their own merits and the more they are discussed, the clearer we can see them for what they are…

Haven’t these people had a more than ample opportunity to spread disinformation, change their stories, hide important information and restrict the debate into an unrealistic and dishonest frame? … Why the hell do we need to tap Dan Senor into the debate? Surely somebody who is not tainted with actual involvement in this crime would have done a much better job, even if only because they are not personally tainted with it.

I have never had a problem with debating the war issue, even though the efforts of the media, including Slate, have all been to narrow the range of viewpoints so that the real truth, that this war was phony and fraudulent from the get-go, gets no hearing whatsoever. We are, in fact, forced to debate the issue in an Alice in Wonderland world where administration officials known to be bloodsucking liars and corporate shills are accorded every honor and credit normally reserved for folks with a reputation for integrity when, the real world, such people would be hooted out of the room…
We return you now to regularly scheduled programmingKA7:05 a.m.Fat Doesn’t Enlarge People, the Media Do: Aided by an MSN link to Seth Stevenson’s Ad Report Card on Dove’s “Real Women, Real Curves” series, hundreds of new users jumped into the Fray last night to assault Stevenson, even though Fraywatch finds nothing remotely sniping about his portrayal of Dove’s lineup of “real women.” I always enjoy, in mild doses, when a torrent of non-Slate regulars storm the Fray, if only because it’s during these incursions that the forum is boiled down to its essence.Scuseme brandishes the predictable Madison Avenue hammer:
It is because of media, that women have a poor self image in general anyway. It’s media, that gives the world its ideas on what the female figure should look like. None of those women in that ad are fat, by any means. But you’re an idiot!
And this
Wow, if this isn’t an example of discrimination and hate speech, I don’t know what is.

Replace the word “fat chicks” with “muslims”, “jews” or “homosexuals” or some such thing and the FBI would arrest this person.

I guess since “fat chicks” aren’t loved by the media and hollywood, they are free game for those people who can do nothing but hate.
Then you’ve got dinoman_73, who is grateful for the Dove ads because
any ad that can get women to feel good about how they look is 30 minutes I don’t have to spend listening to my wife complain about having to go on a diet to look “good.”
Finally, you have proud, self-proclaimed “fat chick” pimpstressV being courted by self-proclaimed lover of fat-chicks, Smart_Assessmets [sic] in this threadKA5:45 a.m.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Shock the Monkey: Robert Mapplethorpe—15 years after the Cincinnati donnybrook—is the subject of Slate’s Lee Siegel penned slideshow. This summer, the Guggenheim exhibits Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition: Photographs and Mannerist Prints. Here, sfdoddsy comments that divorcing Mapplethorpe from the context of public reaction to his work over the last two decades is a sticky proposition: 

I agree with Lee Seigel’s overall point that trying trying link Mapplethorpe with previous traditions is stretching a tenuous bow, except in the sense that all art is influenced by what has gone before. The purpose is obviously to ‘legitimize’ him.

But surely Lee is trying to do the same thing. Yet I’m not sure it is successful. Criticizing our concentration on the context of Mapplethorpe’s work and the public reaction to it, while still emphasizing it throughout the article, is a tad hypocritical, but it did make me look at the photos themselves.
Okay, so what about this Mapplethorpe-as-formalist meme that Siegel hit upon?  In this thread, ksuave and NovaEx touch on it (ever so slightly), though Nova relegates Mapplethorpe to the trash bin, while ksuave gives Mapplethorpe his props as a an “excellent portrait photographer” and reminds us that:
Mapplethorpe was an arts elitist who eschewed the very idea of government funding. He never wrote grant proposals; he f*cked for money.

…To deny RM’s sexual context is of course absurd, but RM himself actively contributed to the notion that he was a “fine artist”. He was extremely pretentious in his endeavors and was often successful. He exhibited at the leading fine art gallery during his life (Light Gallery) and has been collected by serious photo collectors (including Sam Wagstaff) from early in his career.
For Zonemind-PDX, Mapplethorpe’s oeuvre was merely “a high-gloss output of a game we called ‘Freak the Mundanes.’  ” Splendid_IREny counts herself among those “shocked” by Mapplethorpe’s work, but her shock emanates not from the work itself so much as …
looking at photography from a comfortable distance. Mapplethorpe’s subjects are not Arbus’ fragmented and marginalized “freaks.” Even if some of his subjects are posed in a “shy, textbook manner,” they also seem conscious of the juxtaposition in which they’ve been placed.
Maybe the subject’s awareness of the line between the pose and the reality, is what I find shocking.
Is S_I saying that it’s the restraint of Mapplethorpe’s subjects that she finds shocking? The way Mapplethorpe is able to arrest them in pose? Visit with S_I hereKA9:55 a.m.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

When Nontheists Attack: The anti-clerical side of Christopher Hitchens’ curious brand of New World Straussism has enraged Catholic fraysters. In case you missed yesterday’s Fighting Words, Hitchens questions whether John Roberts’ faith will inhibit his ability to preside over Supreme Court cases. Anticipating the critics, Hitchens points to recent declarations by Catholic clerics that American politicians who don’t conform with the church on abortion should be effectively excommunicated. Hitchens writes:

we have increasingly firm papal dogmas on two issues that are bound to come before the court: abortion and the teaching of Darwin in schools. So, please do not accuse me of suggesting a “dual loyalty” among American Catholics. It is their own church, and its conduct and its teachings, that raise this question.
Publius regards  the article as pure Catholic-bashing:
one might overlook some of Hitchens’ eccentricities but his attacks on the Roman Church are pure venom that would put him in good company with Rev. Ian Paisley or the Indiana Klan of the 1920s.

There are 55 million Roman Catholics in America and their participation in public life from top to bottom as Democrats and Republicans, left and right, in the White House and the state houses, on the bench and in our legislatures is well known and ought to have long ago put to rest the old-time Protestant paranoia about hocus pocus and the Pope of Rome sending orders through Jesuits.

Not apparently for Hitchens, who does not seem to know or care that leading American Catholics of the past two generations have inlcuded the entire Kennedy clan, Mario Cuomo, Chris Dodd and John Kerry, to name just a few. So let me get this justification for discrimination against American communicants with the Roman Church based on the Church’s role in civil matters right: we should make sure we ask Catholics who may pass throught Senate confirmation process how their religious convictions might affect their views and governmental decisions but not ask the same of Protestants, Jews or others?
MarkBrown calls it bigotry:
Hitch’s rant reminds me of the vile, nativist Thomas Nast cartoon where the threat of bishops, their mitres drawn to resemble alligator jaws, came crawling up on America’s shores. Beware! Beware of the Papist horde. Soon he’ll be telling us that nuns are killing babies in the convents, as said in a widely circulated (and believed) anti-Catholic screed of the 19th century.
Though koplaw falls short of wrapping Hitchens in the bed linens, he maintains that—even as a self-confessed Bush-hater—Roberts is no “Manchurian Conservative”:
First, the whole account is third level hearsay which does not ring true based upon how close to the vest Roberts has kept his views.

Second, Roberts went to Regis, a Jesuit prep school. If you tell most conservative priests you went to a Jesuit school, they will tell you it’s a shame that you never had a catholic education. Jesuit training incorporates precisely the type of outcome determinative manipulation to reach the desired result as law encompasses, in other words, he can justify any legal result even if it is inconsistent with a Papal decree…

Third, historically, catholic jurists have been no enemy of the right to abortion. Look at Brennan. Further, all over catholic europe, catholic politicians are thumbing their nose at the church by approving gay marriage, etc, etc. Nobody has been excommunicated…

…even a broken clock is right twice a day … I expected a right wing religious freak. But, Bush must have been advised that the cultural war is better as a moot battle than the real thing, because this guy is not an ideologue unless he is truly the ManchurianConservative. He will certainly be no less conservative than O’Connor, but he is no Bork. If you start picking about his catholic faith, you are reaching.
But SacSays writes that Hitchens’ objections are reasonable, if framed correctly:
The right question is directly related to what Hitchens focuses on – the church’s newly minted threats to excommunicate politicians who vote in favor of abortion rights. The question for Roberts should properly be something along the lines of, “On the Supreme Court, you may author a decision, or vote in a case in a way that could lead the Vatican to excommunicate you, as it has said it may excommunicate politicians who vote in certain ways or take certain public positions. Are you willing to risk excommunication from your church if you feel the U.S. Constitution requires a decision by you that contradicts Rome?”

Something like that.
Jester2459 splits the difference here, while JohnLex7 takes up for Hitchens heartily here and in many of the dissenting threads (against Pub here) … KA10:45 a.m.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Coffee Nips: Early response to Jacob Weisberg’s case against Hillary in The Big Idea Fray has been curious. In his column, Weisberg argues that it isn’t Hillary’s (misperceived) ultraliberalism, nor her negatives (which aren’t as high as you think), nor general unreadiness to have a woman in the White House.  In Weisberg’s words, “it’s her personality”:

[S]he still lacks a key quality that a politician can’t achieve through hard work: likability. As hard as she tries, Hillary has little facility for connecting with ordinary folk, for making them feel that she understands, identifies, and is at some level one of them. You may admire and respect her. But it’s hard not to find Hillary a bit inhuman. Whatever she may be like in private, her public persona is calculating, clenched, relentless—and a little robotic.
In other words, can Hillary sincerely convey a joy to be at the Monroe County Fair’s summer chili cook-off and summer performance truck series during a blistering August swing through the Central Plains? That’s the challenge for any presidential candidate and one that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush mastered with fluency.  Interestingly, more than one frayster expresses an objection not charted by Weisberg, but touched on best by LoyalOpposition here:
I’m getting tired of being governed by our American Royalty. By 2008, we will have had 20 years of government by a Bush or a Clinton. With the prospect of Hillary or Jeb running, we could easily envision scenarios when it becomes thirty.

Multiple generations getting into the “family business” of politics is not new–there are examples on both sides (Gore … Daley, Jackson). Nor is spousal involvement (Dole, Cheney).

… I’m tired of chance at running for the presidency left to a few (royal) families. And if fatigue with those royal families specifically (or celebrities in general) sets in with the electorate, then it’s another argument against Hillary winning.
Does LO have a point? Is there a hidden “imperial fatigue” vote in the electorate after 20 years of Clintons and Bushes that both parties are missing?  … KA6:50 p.m.

What Landsburg Misses: Fray Editor is no friend of regulation. After waiting 18 months for the City of Los Angeles’ blessing to add a third unit to his Echo Park duplex that is zoned R-3 (suitable for three units), Fray Editor finally received this e-mail yesterday from his unwearied architects:

hey kev… just got in from the building dept. we got that document recorded on tuesday and went back today. the building permit is ready to issue to a contractor at this point. no more city.
“No More City.” Better than “No More Eczema.” No more threats to my councilman of hurling Molotov cocktails through the seventh floor window of 201 N. Figueroa, home to some of the city’s most nefarious bureaucratic tapeworms. No more limb-chewing at the thought of paying interest on an equity line whose rate of interest keeps climbing while we wait for an edict from the king. But YoniA raises an important point that I often forget while I plot to thrust a shower curtain rod into an orifice-to-be-determined of the city’s director of planning:
One of the key factors in the sharp escalation of housing values that we have witnessed in a number of cities is a renaissance of urbanism. Consumers are apparently willing to trade the space and luxuries of the suburbs for the dense vitality of cities. Zoning regulations play a crucial role in defining and maintaining the character of urban areas. And, as Landsman correctly notes, new construction in cities with careful regulation, rigorous review, and community activists is likely to command a higher price than in cities that allow development to proceed haphazardly. In this sense, zoning laws, like scarcity of land or the cost of construction, represent a fundamental part of a property’s value.
There are reasons why previously depressed neighborhoods thrive and bolster property owners’ equity in the process. Yet despite the revival, forces on both ends decry the effects. Developers bemoan the expense of regulation that makes gaudy condo projects prohibitive while “neighborhood activists” yell gentrification—though these same activists 15 years ago condemned white flight and the draining of investment from the city. Places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle that are experiencing the most growth are desirable because of these restrictions, not in spite of them. Do municipalities need to be more expeditious and responsive to the needs of citizens who want to perform small modifications to their properties? Sure. But to slap a Luntz-like appellation on zoning regulations merely because they emanate from the government is obtuse.       Yoni is in the zone. Earlier this week, he blew the lid off salmon-bashing, criticizing Bryan Curtis for employing Yogi Berra logic in his Middlebrow columnKA9:05 a.m.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Future Shock: William Saletan’s five-part series, “The Organ Factory,” has EarlyBird and Thrasymachus performing the crystal-ball waltz. First, EB here:

We will be soon be raising whole fetuses (don’t worry, we’ll have found a more comfortable euphemism by then) in artificial wombs like so many watermelons, for the harvesting of their organs. It will not horrify us to see rows of fetuses in glass jars with tubes feeding them fluids and nutrients. Culture critics will smartly point out how they look like the humans kept in suspended animation in “The Matrix.”

We will raise the fetuses without frontal lobes so that there will be no personality or anything else resembling personhood which might upset their handlers. Still, the technicians in the Organ Room (the new “OR”) will marvel at the stubborn primal hardwiring which compels them to keep their voices to a reverent whisper while interacting with them.

It will be no more complicated than raising a few thousand little Terry Schiavos a year, removing and distributing all of their organs to the needy, and throwing away the husk. Any remaining wincing will be met with vicious political/social opprobrium. “What are you, some Bible thumping freak?! Do you hate cancer patients, the paralyzed and diseased?! Sure, you care about little blobs floating in synthetic amniotic fluid in a lab, but you don’t care about quadrapalegics!”

This is going to happen. And history will look back at the turn of the 21st Century when we got over our pre-modern reverence about “life.”
T paints a more political portrait of the future debate:
The Republicans will continue to control the federal government, and will still be in power when stem-cell based cures for diabetes and multiple sclerosis are developed in (respectively) South Korea and France, in 2016.

Throughout 2016, Fox News will feature investigative report after investigative report about the “fetus mills” being used by “shadowy European and Asian conglomerates,” but will be surprisingly uninterested in the fact that most of them are partly owned by American pharmaceutical companies.

In early 2017, A bill will be introduced in the House to impose economic sanctions on all nations that participate in “fetal slavery,” but will fall short of the 60-vote majority needed to break a Democratic filibuster.
…Shortly thereafter, in 2020 or 2021, the remnants of the liberal media will start running news stories about prominent Republicans and their family members who “snuck away” to Europe and Asia in an effort to secretly avail themselves of the stem-cell based medical treatments for diabetes or MS that are legally available to them overseas.

This will result in proposed Republican legislation to imprison anyone found guilty of “implicit fetucide” while abroad, and proposed Democratic legislation to lift the ban on stem-cell treatments. Neither bill will pass.

By 2023, the Federal government will order the Centers for Disease Control to stop collecting data on the statistical incidence of specific diseases in the American population, citing the expense of such studies, their limited scientific utility, and “privacy concerns.” The left-leaning blogosphere will resonate with rumors that the decision was politically motivated. Rumors will circulate, also, that American life expectancy at birth is now 15 years shorter than the rest of the industrialized world and dropping…
There’s more here worth reading. T touches on an issue that inexplicably gets lost in the ethical discussion—a stigmatization that’s already being cultivated, intentional or not, by opponents of aggressive adult and embryonic research. Here, EB “can see where this is all going. I’m going to look for a company now called ‘Body Builders, Inc.’ and buy a lot of stock for the long run. The very long run. Their motto would be, ‘We’re people people.’ ” But T reassures him that:
Actually, it’ll probably be a genetically tweaked version of your 18-year-old self.

Unless, of course, you didn’t like yourself at 18, in which case you’ll have to shell out some extra $$ for an immune-suppressed version of someone you DO want to be.
Great, a huge premium all because Fray Editor doesn’t want to be an asexual, ponytailed depressive who’s really into Douglas Coupland, consignment stores, and hangs out at the campus radio station … KA8:30 a.m.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bald Tony Applies to In the words of Rex Barney, “give that fan a contract”:

I think criticism is an art form itself. And I guess if I were an aspiring twenty-something writer I’d have to face the fact that my subject matter is going to be the current crop of “artists” such as R. Kelly. And I’d do my best to deliver the most compelling piece of music criticism I could. But, in reality, if having the “courage” to spew forth the unedited contents of one’s head is the measure of an artist…..well I don’t know what.

R Kelly wrote:I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky

He belongs in jail for that, if for no other reason.
For more from BaldTony on the relative virtue of perversity in pop, go here. Top of the Ninth: The forgotten sister of the Bill of Rights is the topic of discussion here between Jack_Baltimore (natural-rights advocate) and TheRanger (textualist). This has been a recurring theme on the Fray this week, not surprising given the SCOTUS nomination. HLS2003 has done some related work on the topic here and here.Department of Strange Bedfellows: This just doesn’t get articulated enough in American Jewish circles. Those who should have the most circumspect view of history have committed themselves to a program of political myopia and rarely bother to ask themselves the most obvious of questions—what happens when the agenda of Jews and evangelicals diverge completely? Read Dilan_Esper hereKA12:20 p.m.