Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mark Kleiman on the psychiatrization of political discourse

I've long been a nag at Obsidian Wings about using psychiatric terminology in argument with other commenters and in discussing current political figures. I think it degrades the discourse, plays to prejudice, and is generally useless. It's especially shameful when an actual doctor like Krauthammer does it. Mark Kleiman's trenchant post shows me I didn't know the half of it.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The AUMF and gay bashing

As Kevin Drum notes, Michigan passed an ambiguous law against gay marriage, a wingnut A.G. said it empowered him to bash gay unions, the ACLU et al. claimed the law didn't say that, but the bad guys prevailed.

I'm with the ACLU on HRC's vote on the AUMF. I would have been opposed to any Democrat voting for the Michigan bill, but on the grounds it dangerously failed to rule out bashing gay unions. I would have understood such a vote on political grounds if I thought that was a reasonable defensive strategy. And I would harangue any liberal now claiming the ACLU was wrong about the vote.

Atrios on Kleiman

I agree with Atrios here re giving the religious left special privileges - I have no idea what Mark Kleiman is on about here . A rather shrill post from me on the subject here, softened a bit here.

Kos chimes in here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

More on the Hillary bashing

It's not surprising that Greg Sargeant can find a hack at the NYT.

And it's not surprising to see faux-liberal Richard Cohen embarassing himself.

And it's not entirely surprising to find stuttering anti-HRC litmus-test politics on the front page of Daily Kos (why bother to link), though I believe the blog's mission statement is against that.

And, well, few liberal bloggers like HRC and it shows a bit too obviously. Ok, people like their favorite candidate and that often means being unfair to the others.

But it's especially sad to see one of the smartest bloggers out there, Matthew Yglesias, looking monomaniacal and unreality-based. A lot. Really really a lot [ack, can't even find the best example because of MY's annoying archive setup].

UPDATE: apparently MY's comment links don't work. Grep on my handle in those threads to see my argument.

Late update: black is white from Big Tent Democrat - grep on "strategic sense".

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mansfield Park and Bush again, and Jane Austen

Here I had a little fun with a few sentences of Mansfield Park. I never got around to making a(n even) better comparison:
Mrs. Rushworth, a well–meaning, civil, prosing, pompous woman, who thought nothing of consequence, but as it related to her own and her son’s concerns [...]
puts one in mind of Barbara Bush's comment
But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? And watch him suffer.

It is quite settled. I am to leave Mansfield Park, and go to the White House, I suppose, as soon as she is removed there.
is amusing.

Also I should note that the last section of Chapter 11 is as beautifully-written a passage as I've read anywhere - the characterization and description are just perfect. It's with some mortification that I recognize this, having failed to on two previous readings. Jane Austen only grows deeper.

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The Hillary-bashing at Daily Kos gets tiresome

but then one finds heartfelt praise for Wesley Clark.

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I'm curious to see if this comment at Brad DeLong's blog stays up:
For y'all's info, Prof. DeLong has censored some of my argument above, leaving a distorted record of my position. I keep forgetting that, while this is a fine blog, it's not always open to the free exchange of ideas that irk him.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

As related in my family

I don't know how much of the following is true. I'm told I had a great-great-aunt-or-cousin-or-something named Lethal, who lived in a little village in the old country. I guess her name was actually Lisel, and somewhere along the line of remembrance someone had a lisp, so I'll call her that. The name of the village is lost, and anyway it's not there anymore.

Lisel is said to have lived in a small house along a lane. She was remarkable for little except the roses she grew at the edge of her plot of land. The village was also of no note, being a poor and quiet place in a time of great upheaval. The one unusual resident was an angel. The villagers were much in awe of him and hoped his presence meant they were sheltered from politics and war. He was not the best of neighbors, though, for every spring morning at dawn he walked his dog along the lane, pausing to look at the roses in front of Lisel's house, roses which in their white and butter and crimson radiance were almost as beautiful as the long feathers of his wings; and every morning his dog made a mess there. So every morning Lisel would come out and clean the street, especially on Sabbath mornings, when people would be walking past in their good shoes and clean dresses.

Needless to say this led to grumbling in the village. But everyone acknowledged that the other side of the lane, muddy from a nearby stream, was unsuitable for walking, and the synagogue couldn't be moved, and no one wished to anger the angel by pointing out the trouble he was causing; and no one could convince Lisel to stop growing her roses in her front yard. The yearly tensions got so bad that Lisel's son, having scrimped and saved for ten years, packed his bags one spring and moved to America.

That's how we know what little we do about her. The son died childless and intestate and by law the money he left was to be divided among all his living relatives. Inquiries to his birthplace revealed only that men had come one day and torn up the rosebushes, and no one who had lived there was heard from again.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

G. K. Chesterton makes the case for atheism

I just reread The Innocence of Father Brown, a series of little murder mysteries set in upper-class British I guess fin-de-siècle society. The protagonist is a plain little Catholic priest who's much smarter and righter than everybody else; it becomes a bit grating quickly. When I read the book many years ago I had the sense of the argument it makes for Catholicism. Now, noting how Chesterton deals with the secondary characters (an atheist murders a man about to give money to the church; a charismatic sun-worshiper is an American fraud/murderer; a Hindu wants only pure annihilation; an Anglican curate is a murderer, and the Presbyterian blacksmith is maniacally intolerant) I have a sense of a man desperate to be right.


Friday, February 02, 2007

John Edwards and blogs

I'm sorry to learn that John Edwards has hired Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon (note the unfortunate "of all the candidates in the field, the only one worth my endorsement is x" rhetoric). I've commented in disagreement on her posts a few times and found her intemperate and unable to defend her positions. She's apparently scrubbed the site, but people have captures of embarrassing material I'd not want Edwards to get associated with. Fortunately he's also hired a very reasonable blogger, Shakespeare's Sister.