In 500 Words or Less

Fraysters spell out their political doctrines.

Political expression has been the raison d’être of the Fray since its advent, with proclamations ranging from the ad hominem attack to the introspective confession. When Fraysters want to mingle, they partake in a parlor game of political self-classification. But today, Fritz_Gerlich raises the ante for BOTFers with a more insightful exercise:

Can you state your political principles in 500 words or less?
Fritz tenders this stipulation to participants:
I don’t mean labels, clichés, jargon, or facetious epigrams. I mean a deliberate articulation of your guiding political principles, the ones that orient you to more specific issues, parties and personalities. Imagine you were running for office and were asked to submit such a statement. What would you write?
… And starts with his own. Here’s a sampling:
Human rights are the cornerstone of political legitimacy. While the concept of human rights can and does evolve, there is no doubt that at present they include: personal liberty, dignity, privacy, and bodily inviolability; due process of law administered by an independent judiciary; the right to own property; freedom of thought, belief, peaceable assembly, expression, and access to information; the right to participate in political and social decision-making on an equal basis with other citizens.

Aside from human rights, public goods take priority over private goods wherever the two are not consistent. Public goods include not only defense, civic order, justice and prosperity, but also the education, health and safety of all citizens and protection of the natural environment. Public goods are served both directly, through investment of public resources, and indirectly, through incentives for/against private investment or action. For both purposes, taxation is a necessary and beneficial exercise of public power.

Civil society and political government are distinct things. Each has its own nature and parameters, and each is essential to the maintenance of liberal democracy. In general, social order should evolve without political interference. There are occasions when such interference is unavoidable to prevent rapid deterioration of social harmony, but they are few, and the exercise of such interference is fraught with the danger of unforeseen consequences.
What say the civil libertarian?:
… each person has the right to do as he pleases, provided he does not harm others or unreasonably constrain their equal right to do as they please. In the economic realm, a man may compete with his rival in business, even up to the point of putting his rival out of business, but he may not steal his rival’s inventory or deface his advertisements. In the political and expressive realm, a person’s expressive freedom to make any argument or state any case—even dishonestly—is virtually unlimited, except insofar as justice and fairness demand he not conspire to deny any other person the right to rebuttal.

Justice and fairness do not in any way require equality of outcome, but they do require a maximal effort to ensure equality of opportunity, provided such efforts do not unnecessarily constrain the free exercise of personal liberty. It is therefore acceptable for a society to tax its citizens in order to provide for free and universal basic education and free and universal basic healthcare, just as it is acceptable to impose taxes in order to provide for police, courts, transportation infrastructure, and other fundamentals of life. But the economic burdens placed on individuals in order to affect more equal opportunity may not unreasonably constrain the right to self-determination…
… Or the objectivist?
There is no dignity in being a slave. It doesn’t provide for much privacy either. But who is a slave? Obviously, one who has no right to property and is entirely at his master’s mercy as to survival. It matters in the least how benevolent the master is. Thusly the right to own property is the fundamental one in respect to all other rights. Only capitalism provides for this right for everyone, regardless of race, religion and creed.

When the government infringes on peoples’ right to own property by confiscating some at its own discretion, it becomes a master and people become enslaved, because there is no such thing as a part-time slave. Either one is or one is not. That is what the Founders knew all too well and that is why there was no place for income tax in their vision of our Republic. Needless to say, the Republic achieved its present size, prosperity and international status without modifying this vision…
Or the postmodernist?
Politics is the struggle over the definition of reality. Ethics and morality are how we justify our own actions while attempting to limit those of others.
Here’s a follow-up for Fraysters: What is the most profound evolution in your political philosophy?  Get in on the game hereKA3:30 p.m.


Wednesday, January 18, 2005

Biting the Bullet: Canadian fraygrant Deej did it. FromtheEast thinks that the Tories could be headed for a majority in Ottawa though would prefer otherwise:

One of my colleagues was a DRO in a safe Tory riding for the advance polls. She reported that her advance poll actually ran out of ballots.

I think the majority/minority is going to turn on how the Conservative’s emerging strength in Quebec plays. They may take seats from the BQ (as a federalist anti-government vote) or from the Liberals. On the other hand they may set it up so that the BQ all but sweeps the province. In the first case, it looks like a Tory majority. In the second, a minority with a truly fragmented opposition. I hope that it’s the latter. The thought of Inky Mark in a position of real responsibility is almost too much to bear.
How is bacon voting?
Fuck them all. Jack Layton gets more weasely and dinkish with each passing day, Paul Martin appears to have completely lost touch with reality – every time I hear him talk I think of those madhouse scenes at the beginning and the end of Amadeus, I picture them wheeling him out of Parliament crying, “I absolve you, I absolve you all!” – and Stephen Harper is – well, still Stephen Harper, isn’t he?

Ugh. Fuck em. Gilles Duceppe for PM! Vive la difference!
And Vimy is going Green. How goes TQM and DawnCoyote? We’re waiting on ridings in Vancouver and … wherever the hell TQM lives. Plantation … All I Ever Wanted: Here’s The_Bell on Hillary Clinton’s slow descent into self-parody:
While I get what Clinton was trying to say, that has got to be one of the stupidest planned political sound bites I have heard in some time. A bit hyperbolic, perhaps? Sure, when I think of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Southern plantations, the systematic oppression of dissent is always the first thing that pops into my head. It is right up there with the way the crusades put such a kibosh on Holy Land tourism or how Nazism and the Third Reich gave such an undeservedly bad name to tattooing.SLAVE: Massah, I don’t want to pick cotton in the hot sun for twelve hours today.

[a whip crack is heard]

SLAVE: Oh, Lordy! I fear my First Amendment rights has done been trampled on yet agin.
Why would Clinton be compelled to use such a ridiculously out of place metaphor? Because her audience was black and it was easy? Well, that strikes me as rather pretentious and insulting, regardless of how well it was received. Worst of all, it completely overshadowing a far better and more meaningful point that Clinton made in the same speech, in which she offered an apology to a group of Hurricane Katrina survivors “on behalf of a government that left you behind, that turned its back on you.”
Wanda Why: In response to Jody Rosen’s Music Box feature on Jamie Foxx’s new release, SpaceCadet writes:
To think we thought Foxx was making a joke on “Slow Jamz.” But he was serious, apparently, because you don’t make a silly song like that and follow it up with a song about a woman’s private parts being partly cloudy with a chance of showers without a wink or nod or a Weird Al Yankovic guest appearance. Even the album cover could have been a parody, but it’s a parody of a parody because it’s serious.

Bring Wanda back, Jamie!

When I was a Space Camper I read an interview in “Sassy” where Foxx basically made Christina Kelley (and even then she was a tough, take-no-prisoners type, for the ultra-cushy magazine world. She dared to call Keanu boring, after all!) feel uncomfortable asking about her bra size. Ewww. The man is sex-obsessed and, even at that tender age I could tell he didn’t know squat about how to be sexy.

The problem isn’t that Foxx doesn’t combine sin and sacrament like Marvin Gaye. Or that he can’t croon like Luther Vandross. Or even that he sounds like a more serious version of Smoove B. Foxx isn’t fit to wash their britches. The problem is he’s perpetuating crappy R&B, which we all thought he was against after SJamz and “Ray.”
Just like we thought Michael Jackson was over pyrotechnics after that Pepsi shoot … KA12:15 p.m.


Sunday, January 15, 2005

In a watershed week when the Fray’s very existence was deemed illegal, readers turned their collective attention to the truly formidable question: Who’s more insufferable, Joe Biden or Julian Casablancas?

The renewal of the violence Against Women Act passed by both Houses in the past few days and about to be signed by President Bush last week makes the Fray illegal, at least for U.S. citizens who don’t use their real names.

“Whoever…utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet… without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person…who receives the communications…shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

Pretty much everyone here who discusses either politics or fray personalities is trying to annoy someone or other. Failure to actually annoy is not a defense is you intended to annoy. Prepare to serve your time.

Existing statute here, section a(1)(c).

Amendment here

and an explanatory article, via—historyguy, here, reading fraysters their rights.
…death penalty opponents are claiming a “heads we win, tails you lose” moment. Yes, we put a lot of time, energy, and credibility into this guy who ended up being a lying scumbag, but that doesn’t prove anything. And logically, you’re right – except that it hurts the battle for public perception, which is the only real battle that matters for death penalty opponents. In that way, the staunch reaffirmances that “this didn’t hurt” seem like whistling in the graveyard (if you’ll pardon the metaphor).

Truth is, “logically speaking,” it wouldn’t matter to death penalty proponents if Coleman had been innocent. Sure, we all pay lip service to “better 10 guilty men go free than 1 innocent man be convicted.” But we also know it’s bullshit, or at least bullshit at the extremes. I absolutely agree it’s better to err on the side of letting a doubtful guilty party go free, than convicting a doubtful innocent party. 10 guilty? Now you’re pushing it. 100 guilty? 1000 guilty? Now I can’t buy it anymore … you have to acknowledge that society and the justice system would break down if we took such extreme care to avoid convicting an innocent.—HLS2003, here, on the death penalty’s public perception and the cost-benefit ratio of innocence.
The Bushwhackers’ indignation about governmental invasion of personal privacy begins with the highly questionable assumption that there’s any significant personal privacy left to protect. Why get steamed up about governmental intrusion for the sake of keeping U. S. citizens safe and alive when business, the press, and God knows who else does at all the time for the sake of making a buck? And in this new electronic age in which we find ourselves, what exactly is personal privacy anyway? If, for instance, government wants to know what’s going on on the computer I’m writing this, it’s going to have to get in line behind a lot of other folks (I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find I even have a Slate cookie tucked away somewhere). It seems to me that feigning indignation about this one form of governmental intrusion, done with a self-evidently benign intention, without showing any serious concern about the larger picture is simply an exercise in partisan sniping. And a very unconvincing one at that.—dfs, here, recording your IP address and adding a little something extra to your cookies.
…Heroism isn’t sacrificing the practical for the ethereal. In that case, paying money for self-esteem would be a perfect example of heroism! Heroism is doing something that costs you in favor of something that gives someone else a much greater benefit, without expecting repayment. Selfless sacrifice.

Paine, frequently reviled in his own time, was no hero. He wasn’t selling heroism in his role as demagogue and pamphleteer. He was selling the notion that life without freedom is worthless, and that he and other would make any oppressor’s lives miserable unless their own were free.

In short, there is an exchange - he isn’t arguing “give my neighbor freedom or give me death.” He doesn’t care about the muslim on the street. He isn’t trading his own security for someone else’s freedom. He’s trading his own security for his own freedom.
This is a simple decision about personal values.

We might ask “why are we willing to sacrifice someone else’s security for our own freedom?” Why are we exposing our children and spouses to danger? We could just as well ask about trading their freedom for our security. Either way, it isn’t heroic…

But to consider giving up our own freedom for their security, or our own security for their freedom - that’s heroism. Alternatively, why not give up some of your own security AND liberty for the security AND liberty of others? Become a member of the Armed Forces, for example?

If libertarians were really selling heroism, perhaps they would make a dent in public opinion. I don’t think America is as greedy as it is made out to be. But you need to understand what heroism is, first.—BenK, here, on pamphleteers and trade-offs.
Most people realize we’ll lose our freedoms by increments, not all at once. Only the most paranoid conspiracy theorists believe a million UN troops will descend from a secret hideout somewhere in Alberta and knock on our door at 2 AM to confiscate our firearms and our Bibles.

As Mr. Kinsley points out, the increments by which our freedoms disappear are larger under this administration than at any time since Joe McCarthy rampaged drunkenly through the land. At least McCarthy held show trials; Bush doesn’t even bother to ask, “Are you now or have you ever been…?” He just names somebody an illegal combatant and locks him away forever, secretly. Bush wiretaps anyone who makes overseas phone calls without judicial review.

Mr. Kinsley is wrong about one thing. This is no trade-off. We are getting nothing in return for cashing in our civil liberties. The “plots” uncovered by all this investigation of everyone are laughable. They amount to nothing more than some speculative imagining…—Arlington2, here, traversing the slippery slope.
…we hear Constitutional Law groupies (the most pathetic groupies this side of a Wayne Newton concert) pontificate endlessly about the “judicial philosophy” of the justices. The justices themselves puff themselves up into the image of a selfless guardian of truth and justice, without the base motives of a lowly politician or commoner. Scalia is a strict constructionist. Kennedy is a whatsit and O’Connor was a whatsit, plus. Uh huh.

Funny thing is, you could tell me who the parties were in each case, and with no other facts, I could predict with 90% accuracy how at least seven of the nine voted. I don’t need to know a damn thing about any tests, factors or exceptions. All that “judicial philosophy” is the just bullshit rationalizations for obtaining a policy end…—doodahman, here, on the nonsense of judicial taxonomy.
I admit, I’ve done it twice this week.

Once, privately. Once more publicly, and that was much more embarrassing.

In some situations, of course, crying is about grief, but that applies to both men and women. However, we know that in some circumstances where tears are appropriate, men haul off and punch someone.

On the other hand, where a right hook is the natural response, women often cry. Either they’ve suppressed the instinct to fight, or they don’t have the instinct in the first place.

As a new creature in Christ, I know I’m supposed to turn the other cheek. It doesn’t come easily, especially since I have a sharp tongue. Often when my new self is battling with my former self, tears will spring up in my eyes.

Surely Ms. Bomgardner was nervous for her husband. She sat stoically until Sen. Graham apologized to her husband for the tone of the hearings. That is the typical point where a woman will break down and cry–the point when the conflict is over.

If I were listening to my husband be pilloried by the likes of Ted Kennedy, I’d cry too. It wouldn’t be a calculated thing–it’d be tears of rage and frustration.—CDouglas, here, on “why women cry.”
Nothing he says makes any sense, but anything he says is funny if you tack “in bed” on the end.

Similarly, I have a hypothesis that Senator Kennedy’s ego is in fact a sentient, cyst-like growth in his throat, which twangs his vocal chords from time to time in order to indicate hunger and displeasure. Watching him duke it out with Snarlin’ Arlen of the AARP Brigade was like walking in on Grandma in the sling and Grandpap pulling on the studded mask–neither pleasant nor cathartic, but merely wounding. Deeply wounding…—IOZ, here, on “Joe Biden as a Fortune Cookie.”
This just in… Dave Eggers’ parents were spotted with Tobias’ Wolff’s perfectly pleasant stepfather having a cup of tea in Whispering Hills, MN, discussing how cute the little Jackson boy, Curtis, was when he made snickerdoodle cupcakes for the church bake sale.

I have a lot less of a problem with Frey’s transgressions than with the fact that all the rehab didn’t helped his chronic case of testicular obnoxiousism and hyperbole abuse. I’d rather be a victim.

—Ortho_Stice, here, finding golems everywhere.
…I’ll probably cross post this in some form over on Mixing Desk because Jody Rosen is yammering on and on about The Strokes. Man are they ever overrated. Garage rock needs to stay in the garage where it belongs, right next to the wet/dry vac. The only reason The Strokes got any notoriety in the 1st place was because they nailed the downtown “look” and “sound”, such that it is, at the right time and place. Give me a break. At least The Beastie Boys can actually play instruments.

Julian Casablancas’ shrieking makes me want to put my head in a wood chipper, and Nick Valensi’s guitar playing reminds me of Johnny Ramone but without all the talent and speed. So, yeah: get it off my radio like now. (It should be noted here that though I almost exclusively listen to NPR while in the old Rambler, I am tortured on a regular basis by my “nieces’” clear lack of taste in music.)

And The Strokes’ drummer, Fabrizio Moretti? I don’t care if he dated LIONEL Barrymore. The motherfucker can’t count. And he drags. LAME!!!

The celebrity that surrounds The Strokes is the result of a publicity stunt reminiscent of the way the record company bought and sold the idea of [The] Stone Temple Pilots. I.e., like [T]STP, they’re nothing more than a recording executive construct with about as much substance as The Spice Girls, and even less appeal on a thoughtful level. Who writes those fucking lyrics? Because they’re so tired and filled with enough cheap hooks to outfit 1 of Ennis Del Mar’s and Jack Twist’s “fishing trips.”—switters, here, exasperated with the stroking of Casablancas, Valensi, et al.
Being a good parent has nothing to do with how much, or in what way you love your children. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of the *imaginary* advantage biologicals think they have over us stepparents. Yes, I love both my boys. No, I can’t possibly love them the same way their biological fathers do. Regardless, I’m a better dad than both of those men put together. Why? Lots of reason, but with specific reference to the claimed advantages of genetic love, my selflessness isn’t the product of, or subject to the whims of my DNA. Rather, it’s a conscious decision, and one that meets a higher standard of evidence as a result.—Ender, here, properly framing love as a quality not a quantity.
…Numbered. How strange that we don’t think of our experiences as numbered, even though strictly speaking they all are. We are allotted an unknown set of sunrises, an unknown set of days. Yet it is startling how many we miss for forgetting that. I used to think that the untranscendability of my own death was one of those ultimate mysteries worth exploring. But now that mine is inevitable and immanent, I see that the greater mystery is living. Somehow I always knew that, but I didn’t breath that knowledge with each breath until now.

Rilke said it well (I don’t have the German handy): if one took us suddenly to his breast, we would perish in that more intense existence. Every angel is terrifying.

There is something terrifying about living so vibrantly now. It is as though I run into the arms life for fear of my own angel of death. But it is not just fear of dying, for I’ve found some peace with that. It’s more like normal routines of daily life cannot absorb the intensity with which I live and feel now. With death has come a reckoning with the truth of my life, and mine carries with it a tendency to speak my mind. I find that the realization of my death has cleared my mind so that I know it better than ever before. In the coming months, then I will learn if I can speak more clearly from this most intimate of all lovers, my own mind…—Meletus, here, in his own words.


Wednesday, January 4, 2005

The Gift Economy: Why should a complicit pol in the Abramoff scandal get to siphon off the cash into a charitable contribution of his choice? That’s the question O_Hellenbach poses here:

If Denny Hastert took $69K in money from a corrupt lobbyist, then those funds really ought to go to the people or agency who nailed his ass. I don’t care whether Denny has plausible deniability or not. He’s welcome to pull his Sergeant Schultz routine for the press and his gullible constituents, but as far as being able to use the dirty money itself to get re-elected or otherwise help prop up his reputation, well, forget it. Why should the politicians be the only ones to profit from their corruption?
Shadow Architecture:MT doesn’t much care for Witold Rybczynski’s architectural slideshow on McMansions, so she’s devised her own visual survey of “eight houses which are roomy and livable with beautiful proportions.” All of MT’s choices are in the Chicago area, including the Fraywatch fave and Prairie style classic, Robie House in Hyde Park. Common Sense: This HLS2003 response on the origins and meaning of a free press is buried beneath a flame pit over in BOTF. Don’t miss it.  King James Version: For those looking for a primer on the LeBron Nike ads, samfrood provides it here in ARC Fray:
Ok - the old guy is LeBron. He keeps playing highlights from his long-ago NBA career on the vidscreen. The other dudes are his sons (or grandsons) who hang out with him. They resent the old geezer - and hate having to listen to his rambling cracker-barrel tales of his former prowess on the court - BUT - LeBron has the dough - so they put up with him.
The Kid Stays in the Picture: Former Cinemark projectionist bionerd agrees with Slate’s Hollywood Economist, Edward James Epstein, that multiplexes are skimping on labor:
When I was on duty I was responsible for all eight projectors. I wasn’t technically a projectionist, though, because, as another way for the company to save money, they called me an “Usher B.” If I was actually a projectionist, they would’ve had to pay me much more than $6.00 per hour. I and the rest of the projectionists and managers at the theater that I worked at had very little technical training. Besides the routine threading and starting of projectors, we only knew how to do things like build prints, fix broken film, change trailers, adjust focus, adjust volume, and change diodes–the things that you have to know to get a watchable picture on the screen. We didn’t know how to do the kinds of things that make for a perfect presentation, which was supposed to be our goal. We didn’t know how adjust lamp brightness, how to focus the lamp, how to adjust the aperture to get crisp picture edges, or how to do any of the optical and auditory fine-tuning to make the presentation really great. The result was sub-par presentation, as I saw it. It was pretty frustrating for me, but to tell the truth, we didn’t get many complaints as long as the picture was watchable.
A Coal Miner’s Granddaughter: lil_2 offers a perspective in DP Fray.The Institution of Marriage: … being supported by the Fray. Congratulations to Montfort and zinya, who make their announcement hereKA4:40 p.m.