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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Red, the color of angry men"?


And what is Christianism if not a progressive [emphasis added], collectivist, statist movement?

is at odds with ...

Althouse and Reynolds and others over the question of whether "Christianist" is an appropriate term to use to describe the fusion of political ideology and religious faith. Greenwald shows that Reynolds and Althouse simply refuse to allow me to deploy a word in a manner that makes sense to me.

...That's why I call "ordinary religious people" Christians and call those who are "trying to bully their way around the political world" Christianists. Is that so hard for her to understand? I've stated it quite clearly from the beginning, but she refuses ...


I'm not going to step into the middle of Conservatives bickering, but there is no need for progressivism to be put up to cheap shots, from either side. As something that ought to be rejected, "Christianism" is a misdirected hope for religious actuation has both Conservative and Progressive aspects:
[from Clay's article] True, evangelicalism can also be a force of moral conservatism, in insisting upon the permanence of certain moral and ethical desiderata, particularly if those are clearly stated in the Bible. But it can also be a force of profound moral radicalism, calling into question the justice and equity of the most fundamental structures of social life, and doing so from a firm vantage point outside those structures.

Now, if the Conservatives want to excoriate certain aspects of what they perceive to be Bush's true conservative failings, that's their own affair, although I think it is going to be more difficult than face-value might suggest. McClay's article is a very interesting read and provides reasonably nuanced historical perspectives of the "red" tradition, from which to judge Bush's actions, although I find him too broad brush (The World AIDS initiative doesn't seem to me the same as the Shiavo wing-flapping or even the institutionalization of re-distributive, faith-based initiatives and certainly not 'Freedom' in the world, which is/was largely a political backfill by most reckonings or even Social Security Reform).


If it's not Bush in particular, but Conservatism in general, then perhaps they ought to start by discerning how it is that Christianists have found such a happy home for so long within the Conservative-alliance.

[AS] ... when a progressive, benign, big government evangelicalism emerges,

I don't know what the legislative references (or Executive actions) to that are. The truth is that Conservatism has distinct statist tendencies, too, including a belief in the primacy of the State in certain matters, the bully pulpit role of the Executive, and more besides.

The hard truth is that, while the Evangelical power-politics-cum-money is a problem for all, the "big government" in the recent past has come from the old-line Conservatives, notwithstanding Presidential veto.


The Oathiness of the Bible and the Laying on of Hands

More from the Heritage Foundation's spinning spinoff, Townhall.com. (I wonder how much Andrew knows about big-H Heritage.)

Anyway, all this bit about handing the Bible for oaths makes anyone who has actually read the thing belly laugh.

I won't say why ... I'll see if one of the readers picks up on it.


What we don't see: The Allegory of Underwear

It will be interesting to see how Andrew threads the needle in talking about something that isn't worth talking about.

Boxers vs. Briefs

We look at people's ties and at whether they are wearing skirts and blouses or pant suits. Barbara Walters interviews a grief stricken widow, for 15 minutes of .. what, exactly? Why shouldn't we know what the informational content of underwear is? People have been yearning to know what's under a kilt for years, if anything. Politics abhors a vacuum. Of course, maybe there is a line for privacy ... or journalism.

The bottom line is that some underwear just isn't sexy. In a popular culture obsessed with the nubile and the prurient, perhaps underwear does have informational content (and electoral value?).

Anyway, the point is that, unless he's commando (not likely), set in his ways (getting there?), or a j-s guy (money bet ;), Andrew should know that "boxers v. briefs" dichotomy went out a long while ago, with the introduction of the "boxer-brief" (well, they were "square-cuts", first):

The Living Daylights

Meanwhile, if anyone has forgotten just how exciting the world of underwear can be, check out C-IN2, who have a runway-worthy macroflash on their website. Ah, the world of fashion!


Monday, November 27, 2006

Beyond A Liberal or Conservative Doubt

I go to great pains to insist that skepticism is not the same as moral relativism. A relativist believes that there is no truth as such, no objective moral reality. A skeptic may affirm, as I do, the notion of an objective truth - but insist on the weakness of the human mind to know it fully. And so, in practical life, we eschew the moral certainties of fundamentalists.

Whether one agrees with this portrait of moral relativism, the problem, for me, with this is that an epistemological humility is NOT a Conservative value, per se.

I would suggest that so much belongs to a genre of what we might call right-thinking or a reasoning basis that goes beyond mere dogma or other untenored calculus, a calculus that may include great parts of the political machinations of getting and holding ruling authority as well as the social prefigurings of relations among small groups and individuals.

As such, it wouldn't really be correct (or fair?) to claim it for the Conservative tradition, really. Indeed, rather than this tempering of thought, it could be argued that Conservatism represents a distinct bias in thought, one that favors the "status quo ante", the content of which can be almost everything, including something as eponymously elevated as "Reagan Revolution" to outright injustice.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

On this day, we give Thanksgiving, even for those Conservatives among us.

Because the only this worse than Conservatives is no Conservatives. - Great Gob of Progress


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Often wrong, but never in doubt

It's worth taking a moment to distinguish Hamilton from Yglesias Nominee Cal Thomas (I confess I don't know what a Yglesias is).

The thrust of Cal Thomas's book is not to be a doubting Thomas on the same terms as Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton's doubt is an epistemological thing, the Owl of Minerva and all that, or else, as is closer to Hamilton's character, a political calculation, i.e. one cannot 'survive' politics if you try to be right all the time, as extremists of that sort do not outlast the test of time.

Thomas' book has to do more with the impossibility of ruling as Soloman did (or Suleiman?), for a string of reasons. Put in other terms, one might say that there is no purity in politics, as the devil has his due in those affairs. To me, this suggests an ontology, not an epistemology.

The latter, it seems to me, is a more stalwart approach to addressing fundamentalist passion. There is more to the story about why, but I'll leave it there with just a proposed distinction.


AS Might be the Only Gay Man to Yearn for the Reagan Years

This is where AS becomes a hard case:

Reagan did indeed presage some of the worst aspects of today's degenerate Republicanism. His deficit spending, his subversion of constitutionalism in Iran-Contra, his coded appeal to Southern bigotry when beginning his campaign, and his dithering on the HIV epidemic are all fore-runners of later abuse. But they were mild in comparison to Bush.

Reagan would never have signed the biggest increase in entitlement spending since LBJ; Reagan's domestic spending record was far better than Bush's; Reagan raised taxes when he felt it necessary; he reformed the tax system in his second term; he vetoed pork; his Supreme Court nominees were diverse; he would never have gone to war in the reckless, unplanned way the Bush administration did in Iraq; and his foreign policy was a blend of deep conviction but also pragmatism, as he reached out to an imploding Soviet Union in his final years. Even on Iran-Contra, he eventually fessed up, and apologized. You can see the seeds of future conservative self-destruction and hubris, but Reagan's record, to my mind, is on balance, a conservative one in the best sense. His undoing of excessive government control of the economy and his defeat of the Soviet Union dwarf everything else.

They were mild compared to Bush? I'm not sure that is much of a compliment, to put things in such relative terms. Wouldn't Bush-41, whose 'kinder, gentler' phrase might suggest a more apt comparison, by someone fully in the Conservative tradition? (not that I would suggest picking Kirby Silver Surfer over Aqua Man, for someone else).

The rest shows how AS still has it bad for his boyhood hero. It was Reagan who brought us the Ed Meese spectacular and not even a peep of political or personal dismay over Bowers v. Hardwick (1986). It was Reagan who gave official jobs to the Hugh Hewitts of the world, who haunt us still with the 'Reagan Revolution'; and whose 'strategy for the judiciary' wound up in Borkfest, directly or indirectly.

Last he incorrectly identifies Reagan as a prime cause of the Soviet collapse, a hagiographic halo whose false glow will probably be with us for quite some time, it appears.


Will Wounded Hawks Do Dirty Deals Cheap?

Andrew is calling attention to Stanley Kurtz's bit and to angry lesbians in history (o.k., that's a cheap shot).

Anyway, Kurtz raises his debate on the wrong grounds. The issue isn't 'dovish democrats', wholly. The question is how are the wounded hawks going to respond.

This has been a concern since the outset of OIF, as I myself worried aloud during the 2004 election whether re-electing a President who had lost credibility on the facts so seriously could ever lead the Nation in an open conflict again. Since then, we can add getting bogged down as a millstone around the wounded hawks' neck.

As an aside, for those who do not remember, the correct way to read big-C Kissenger is to ignore virtually every prognostication (grave threats, catastrophe for U.S., etc) and just focus on the analysis.

Here is one piece of analysis to turn on its head:

So long as Iran views itself as a crusade rather than a nation, a common interest will not emerge from negotiations. ...Iran needs to be encouraged to act as a nation, not a cause.

The truth might be the reverse. When the U.S. starts to understand how to deal with Iran as a cause and to some extent a Nation, it will finally get its policy approach tuned to the right frequency. (This may be why old-world diplomats must be listened to, but not untemperedly).


The Last Socratic Art

Jennifer Holmans of the TNR attempts a difficult contextualization in trying to enunciate the role of tradition and the individual talent within the dance against the backdrop of holding onto a classical dance cannon.

Giselle is not an isolated case. Most ballets have similarly flexible structures and histories that are bound up with the personal biographies of the dancers who performed and staged them. In this regard, classical ballet is a very peculiar art: since it has no written texts, it is not upheld by its own past. Indeed, it has only the most limited access to ages gone by, and cannot claim a body of works that recall its traditions and situate it in the history of Western civilization. Moreover, if a ballet drops out of the repertory for too long, it will disappear: we cannot retrieve it later to reconsider its merits. Fastened to the present, ballet cannot evaluate its own past. A ballet, even a "classic" ballet, is now, or it is forgotten. For this reason, ballet cannot have a canon in the way that drama and music do.

This does not mean that ballet does not have its own tradition of sacred texts. Indeed, it might be said that as a tradition ballet exists somewhere between showbiz and the priesthood. Showbiz, because ballet is constantly subject to the exigencies of getting a show up on stage and pleasing an audience. As such, it is perennially in the grip of contemporary fashion and taste: sylphides and Wilis on wires were sensational effects in the early nineteenth century, but they would look hopelessly dated today.

Even if one is not an aficionado of the dance, it is not too hard to gain sufficient understanding of how the modern dance evolved as a need to break out of the bounds of the classical forms. (My own epiphany on the matter came during a production of Don Quixiote some years back).

Nevertheless, I wonder if Holman's thesis on the role of the cannon is not more backlash against the licentiousness that encompasses a lot of modern offerings rather than a wholesale re-affirmation of the classical cannon or even a purpose of pointing out the need to re-interpret the classics.

In any case, here is Sylvie Guillem and Manuel Legris : Grand pas classique, with choreography by Maruis Peptia's, who is mentioned in the article. It gives, I hope, both a sense of the triumph of the "classique" and its truncations.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Towards a New Bloomsbury

Be it resolved: The Young Left needs a new Bloomsbury and Peter Beinhart should be nominated to get it off.

Maybe he is not fabulous enough, but I'm reading with worry the admissions of error that are coming from the young, muscular-thinking liberals (that's so much better than neo-neo-liberals, right?).

The political milieu has been so much infected with Conservative-speak, that one has to question if it isn't spilling over into defining the terms of the debate too much. I can't help but think that this is due to too much thinking in isolation, an imagination bias, if you will; and hence, the notion that a Bloombury-like enterprise is needed for the best of the progressive tradition to carry-on wisely against the deluge.

A mind's eye view from your window

Kolkata, "living" quartersSeabonic, 300th Nicholas Golf Course, $650K/yr

TNR turns wimpy

no reason to believe that we might achieve something that could be plausibly described as victory
The past three years have complicated our idealism and reminded us of the limits of American power and our own wisdom.

Oh, for pity's sake. Everyone wants to "win".

The great joy of being idealistic is that you cannot lose, because you tried.

What a bunch of feckless, premature wimps, to throw in the towel so soon.

I was just starting to really like that Beinhart guy. I mean, "Why liberals and only liberals can ..." has to be one of the greatest titles of conviction that I've seen outside the looney left. I hope he didn't have a hand in this hand-washing.

Ars Gratia Artis

The wonderful coreography of Maurice Bejart, done with a twist for Nureyev's requiem.

Baker on the road to Damascus

We did hear about it before the election.

He talked about it to Charlie Rose, while doing the tour for his own book, "Work hard, eat right, and stay out the Bushes", or whatever.

There have also been dialogues with Iran.

He can do this. He is non-governmental.

Besides, people talk even when they are not talking (and I don't mean in non-verbal ways).

Sometimes, even, people don't talk even when they are talking (I'm thinking of a story of one of Kissenger's "oral notes").


A Lincoln Portrait, Part II


For myself, I cannot completely reconcile hailing Reagan and Thatcher for their unswerving ... staunchness (?), while reserving a place of private conviction and public compromise that dots the lives of politicians.

There has to be more to that picture, somehow.

Mr. Lincoln was also part of the charge against, as I believe he himself called it, "the scourge of plural marriage." Relatively early during his Presidency, the Morill Act (1862) was passed by Congress and became law. I'm not sure if Lincoln saw the other side. What's more, some would say that many took a little too much glee in its enforcement, whether they agreed with it or not.


Krauthammer gets a visit from the Blixen b.s. o'meter

Regime change was always the policy. It would have been nice to have had some WMD.

It's hard to know for whom to have more (liberal) pity. Those who never doubted that Saddam had them or Saddam who bluffed himself to the gallows over them.

Whatever the case, Conservatives give a whole new meaning to 'strong on defense' in this era.

I understand that they are drawing up plans for Loch Ness ...


Market failure - health care checkup

I always thought that British attitudes toward universal health care were more deeply rooted than mere Soviet envy during the Attlee government.

Anyway, here is positive view of something being done to plug the gaps left by America's health care "system" (*cough*), free clinics:

Moreover, I do hope that the small-c conservatives steer the debate toward health-care. I think many of them are in denial (or, at least, have their eye off the ball) about what is going on.

Here's a tidbit: The USA spend nearly twice a percentage of its GDP on health care than do the U.K.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Eating the Young

write-in: I have always considered myself a staunch liberal ... (I am25)

No wonder folks like Gary Hart have to write books with titles about the courage of convictions and the dear Harry Reid's rhetoric seems in need of a generational update.

If liberals feel like they have to head over to Conservatism, which will never change its stripes, to have a dialogue on what to do, then maybe Progressivism is lost in the wilderness, once again.


Did you notice that, when the GOPers lose, it is time for everyone to cooperate. Yet, when they win, it's time to push everyone out of the way?

Frankly, I don't remember Newt, after his 1994 'mandate', offering Clinton a hand of compromise on much at all.

So what does small-c conservatism (is that like compassionate conservatism, just without the evangelical attachment?) offer up:

  • gerrymandering: ... after a million, thousand years of this
  • pork: ... for conservatives to lecture about reining in pork now is just impossible. Why don't small-c conservatives come up with a way to replace the money in the treasury for the prior "pork" of the big-C conservatives, eh? Let's talk about how damaging to the Republic a blind adherence to "no new taxes" really is, for a change.
  • entitlement excess: ... LOL. ... I can hardly WAIT to see what has a manufactured importance in this category that gives it a top-five rating.
  • poor intelligence: ... given that some reader wants to chat with a Conservative about what a 'staunch liberal' should do, I'd have to agree.
  • Get Iraq right: ... I cannot imagine what this is going to entail, except that the big-"L" liberals are going to be asked to sacrifice themselves, too.

Great Minds do not a Great Man Make

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -John Kenneth Galbraith


The Discourse with Modernity: Fabulosity

Strong contender, sweetie, darling:

A Lincoln Portrait

What are we to make of, "My kind of President", that Mr. Lincoln?

If ever there was a portrait of conviction in the face of doubt, it is Mr. Lincoln, but some of AS's view of Lincoln might need to be re-constructed. Perhaps he might pick up Gore Vidal on Lincoln.

Afterall, it was Lincoln who suspended habeus corpus the first time around and threatened the judiciary, as best I recall, among many other things that could look quite imperial.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Torturing Conservatism

"So where are your Pakistani humorists?", someone once quipped.

I wonder what role Oakeshott might have found for the ACLU in his pantheon of Conservative phantom weight lifters?

Is the "Conservative ACLU" bred into the individual responsibility of Conservative citizens? Is that why we have such an outcry of Conservative conscience on the issue of torture? Did the ACLU just get the jump on libertarian Cato-ists of the world, then, in this lawsuit? ::

The disclosures by the CIA general counsel's office came in a letter Friday to attorneys for the ACLU. The group had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York two years ago under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking records related to U.S. interrogation and detention policies.

The lawsuit has resulted in the release of more than 100,000 pages of documents, including some that revealed internal debates over the policies governing prisoners held at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Many other records have not been released and, in some cases, their existence has been revealed only in media reports.


Fisting Jonah

Watching Conservatives go to fisticuffs is ... ex-haust-i-n-g.

Conservatism is essentially a husk of a political philosophy, and its offerings the succotash of treats.

Conservatism as a governing illusion got unmasked because it had nothing to offer and wound up, as it must do, in an incompetent (subservient) and do-nothing Congress with the smiling face of above-it-all corruption.

Of course the Christianists, who actually want to do something, should leave Conservatism! D'oh.

The neo-cons, who actually wanted to put forward a Governing Philosophy, of course, do not belong in "main-stream" Conservatism!

We look for the resurrection of the dead (see pic) ...

As much as they might be cherished, childhood certainties, it's time to put away childish things.

Thatcher and Reagan were products of their time, not expressions of a timeless ideology.

After all, "small government" - what the heck IS that, except some hopelessly derivative formulation?


Who's on second?

Trying to make a foil out of Pelosi for some reason?

The "money" is on Steny, and perhaps that why we ought not to be.


Fighting Gerry

It's 2006 and, so, just now we're discovering gerrymandering in America? C'mon.

Probably too cynical, but this looks like another Conservative hockey-puck. This is the part of the game wherein, having played dirty, they look around just as the other team gets the puck and say, "Oh, LQQK, that's dirty. What can "we" do about it?"

The easiest answer is for GOPers not to vote in the upcoming elections. There won't be any problems with gerrymandering, in that case.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nigger, Nigga, Nerd, Geek, Jock, Queer, Fag, Dyke, and Kike

As for the q-word, I can understand the idea behind coopting it. But it doesn't coopt me. I prefer to think of myself as a fag.

Whatever accepting "fag" means, exactly. Was that supposed to be a cute turn of a phrase?

"Fag" always seemed to me an abject hate-word, with no other way to interpret it. "Queer", on the other hand, seemed rooted in a different ethos, and could be taken as a power-word, an exclusion (although the force of it often tipped to the pejorative, but not necessarily).

Whatever the case, terms like "fag" and "dyke" are still used frequently, so if reclaiming has had real impact, it may have been on the receipients, not their abusers.

Hug Thy Enemy In Spite of Themselves

See, this is the kind of thing that is spectacular about the blogosphere. Insouciance, wit, and a nice moral to the story.

Now, all we need to do is to get Andrew a Muslim to hug and we'll have a the beginning of another trifecta.


Who Killed Conservatism?

Is the answer, who cares?

Unless you want to know in order to know how to keep it dead?

Afterall, what did it ever do for anyone, really, to be brutal about it?


Haggard's Science

I'm not sure what this one is about.

Why the question mark? Are we supposed to dismiss the science of psychology in favor of something else?


Monday, November 13, 2006

Rousting Rumsfeld

Suppose you are wrong about Rumsfeld. Suppose he is smart enough to know exactly what he did wrong.

Suppose further that his beliefs are (a) not to take on political water for those errors and (b) to work in earnest to correct them.

How does someone who isn't contributing to the solutions helpful? What is the benefit of publically discussing what is wrong, when you already know the challenge?

This suggests why, maybe, Aldeman had to be spoken over and why he needed to be removed.

No appeal to "absolute power" necessary.

I've personally known both Donald Rumsfeld and Ken Adelman for a long time. My brutal criticism of Rumsfeld ended, as I knew it had to, our acquaintanceship, although it did not end my personal fondness for him and his family.

Andrew must be getting almost as bad as I have become in my old age, dropping letters and worse.

Better rewrite:
I've personally known both Donald Rumsfeld and Ken Adelman for a long time. My brutal criticism of Rumsfeld ended our acquaintanceship, as I knew it had to, although it did not end my personal fondness for him and his family.


Wade in the Waters, Children

But the Democrats now have to buy in. They have to take real responsibility for the war on Islamist terror for the first time. It'll do them good too.

Oh, Andrew, let us not chide whatever it is to you, the "war" on "Islalmist terror".

What "good" for themselves are the Democrats to glean from dealing with the current mess? To unbake the cake, to unring the bell, to untie the quagmire knot?

Truly, perhaps you just want company in the river of blood.


"My Heart Belongs to Daddy"

"My name is Lolita, and I'm not supposed to play with boys."

All this poking fun about Bush-43 conferring with Bush-41. It's cheap.

You know, this is probably why he was not candid with Woodward and others about how much he talked with his dad or not.

People didn't understand why he didn't, but perhaps they'll understand now with the ridicule on display.


Beautiful form, Occidental trope

Flander's Fields is a perfect French Rondeau.

On the covenant with the dead:

Doctor says coming to America may be 12-year-old's best chance

Marine Cpl. Ian Kutner always will carry the shrapnel that hit him when his best friend, Lance Cpl. Aaron W. Simons of Modesto, was killed in a rocket attack in northern Iraq.

And every day he strives to carry out the pledge the Marines made the day before Simons died to save a dying Iraqi girl.