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[Archive]

:: Friday, January 31, 2003 ::

Do you know what's intellectually bracing and very probably Good For You? Keeping two browser windows open simultaneously, and switching between them. One is tuned to a pro-Iraqi War blog like this, this, or any of the lesser-known pro-war blogs. The other window is tuned to an anti-war blog or a bulletin board bursting with anti-war sentiment.

I don't understand why more people don't seek out and read opposing viewpoints and opinions. Is it because they're afraid that their own views are so weakly held or badly thought out, that they will be helplessly assimilated into the Collective should their brains get the slightest bit contaminated?
:: Twistre 7:22 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 ::
I suspect, judging by the rest of the site, that this is made by one of the people most likely to annoy me based on the criteria in my very last post below. It doesn't matter. This is hilarious.
:: Twistre 5:45 AM [+] ::
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Annoying genius-irritant commentator Andrew Sullivan scored some excellent points on his main page about the weirdness of many people's dislike of George Bush. (Also check out his well-worth-reading essay on opinion-spouting celebrities.)

For the record: I don't much like Bush, I didn't vote for him, and I feel decidedly iffy about the war on Iraq. But it seems to me that if George Dubya came out strongly in favor of sex next week, then three million Americans would take a lifetime vow of abstinence just to spite him. The idea that Bush's support of something is a full-fledged reason to oppose it is just bizarre and nonsensical. And, of course, it's exactly what many Republicans thought of Bill Clinton.
:: Twistre 5:24 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, January 25, 2003 ::
I have a strong built-in dislike of Karl Rove.

Why?

I could go the easy way out and say that, to me, he represents everything I hate about American politics - that he seems to be this decade's Lee Atwater. Except I think I'd be partially dishonest for saying so. Because I think my feelings about Rove have something to do with the fact that, on some level, I still dislike the Republican Party in a way that I don't dislike the Dems. If Rove were an advisor to a Democratic President, and were showing the same personality and using the same methods, I think my hindbrain would be cheering him on.

I don't want my brain to be working like this. This asymmetry is not good for my thinking. As I found out last November, to my partial surprise, I am apparently a registered member of the Democratic Party, since I voted in the Democratic Party primary in 1998. There is no ideological reason for me to pick one party over another. I am in favor of the Democrats' shallow, utterly fake, totally skin-deep support of gay rights legislation. I oppose the Democrats' shallow, utterly fake, totally skin-deep gun control policies. I do not trust either party much. But there are individuals in both parties I wouldn't mind seeing President.

I don't like Karl Rove because he helps the GOP through rather underhanded methods. Yet I would like him if he helped the Dems the same way. Why? I think my interior political balance needs some tweaking.
:: Twistre 7:30 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 ::
Nice response by Glenn "InstaPundit" Reynolds to a critic who hadn't actually bothered to find out what Reynolds really believed. This is part of a growing, sometimes annoying, often humorous trend in online political "discussion." That is, realizing that you don't actually have to look for what Joe So-and-so thinks of Fred Object, or Issue X. All you have to do is look at some given opinions, and extrapolate. 'Cus, y'see, if someone generally supports Bush it's a good bet that person likes the smell of burning homosexuals. And anyone who opposes war with Iraq undoubtedly has a Free Mumia! shirt hanging in their closet.

Given that Reynolds (dunno about Tacitus) is hardly either a social conservative or a partisan Republican, methinks his challenger kinda jumped the gun.
:: Twistre 4:37 AM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 ::
Andrew Sullivan is one of the last Web-savvy people in America to discover Black People Love Us! And, although I have great respect for Sullivan's intelligence (if not always his reasoning abilities), I wonder if he completely got the joke.

Hm. Am I so sure that I completely got the joke?
:: Twistre 6:21 AM [+] ::
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:: Friday, January 17, 2003 ::
I saw American History X for the second time yesterday. Excellent film, often very well made. But I think I have one or two issues with it.

The script puts many, many lines of literate, reasoned, and, well, convincing white-supremacist babble into Edward Norton's mouth, both when addressing the gang on the street and at the dinner scene. And what do we get in response? Elliott Gould mumbling some unconvincing, very weak sentiments as the voice of American liberalism. Avery Brooks' character would have undoubtedly had something more intelligent to say, but he wasn't there. The script presents us with an intellectual argument for these positions that, minus any reflexive negative emotional reactions on our parts, make a kind of sense. And as a rebuttal on the same intellectual level, the script gives us . . . ?

Sorry, but having the plot discredit these white power fantasies doesn't cut it. Having Norton's pre-prison character flip out at dinner doesn't diminish the power of what he said just earlier. His experiences in prison may change his mind, but the positions he articulated so well earlier in the film haven't been answered. Obviously the filmmakers don't agree with the person Norton starts out as; I'd never be so thick-skulled as to accuse them of that. But when one viewpoint is argued on both an intellectual and a basic plot level, and the other viewpoint is largely argued only on a basic plot level... does that seem glaringly out of balance to anyone else?

Of course, it's still a well-made film. And I got the feeling upon seeing it again that there are many, many scenes that never made the final cut (I know something of the story of the director trying to get his name off the film because he was unhappy with the final editing job).
:: Twistre 7:03 PM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, January 16, 2003 ::
John LeCarre on George W. Bush and the Iraq situation.

James Lileks on what LeCarre wrote.

What? I'm sorry? My opinion? Hey, I just provide the links. Maybe it's my Fundie Agnostic speaking, but what the hell do I know about the state of the world today? The more opinions I read, the less I know. Soon I'll be determining my own politics by seeing which ideology's pundits I can poke the least logical holes in.
:: Twistre 5:13 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, January 06, 2003 ::
I think Jonah Goldberg of the National Review has very interesting political views. If, of couse, the term "interesting" is understood as a euphemism for "very different from my own." And yet, thinking of pundits who I often agree with, I think I'd rather read Goldberg than any of them. (Same goes for Michael Kelly and Andrew Sullivan. Rule of thumb: People who describe themselves as "liberals," in the meaningless modern American sense, may sometimes have their heads screwed on straight, but they're rarely a blast to read.)

Case in point: Goldberg's absolutely wonderful article responding to those offended by Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Read it, even if you wouldn't be caught dead with a copy of the National Review.
:: Twistre 4:11 AM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, January 05, 2003 ::
I've been reading so many predictions for the upcoming year or two, I want to try my hand at it.

55% - The chance of all-out war with Iraq in the near future. If this seems amazingly low to some people, I think what Bush wants is to squeeze Saddam so hard that something in Iraq cracks. Not necessarily a Ceaucescu-esque uprising brought about by Saddam's own stupidity, but maybe a coup by elements anxious to avoid war. But make no mistake about it: Bush has passed the point of no return. If Saddam remains in power after this crisis passes, Bush is going to look foolish trying to squirm out of the rhetorical corner he's painted himself into. And he knows it.

15% - The chance Saddam Hussein will be running Iraq when 2004 rolls around. See above.

60% - The chance that the political situation on the Korean Peninsula will not change appreciably in the next year. By which I mean, no incredible diplomatic breakthroughs between Pyongyang, Seoul, and Washington. And, no disasters such as the threat of open war. Hey, I don't think a war on the peninsula is going to happen. And if one does, let me assure you I will be aware of my error far sooner than anyone in the Western Hemisphere. I do kind of live on the possible recieving end of thousands of North Korean missiles.

55% - The chance that either Kerry or Lieberman will be the Democratic candidate. I think they've got about equal shots. I'm beginning to kick myself for letting my brain develop preconceived notions of some of the Democratic hopefuls. I've disliked Dick Gephardt for a while, without knowing exactly why. Now I think I must have read a couple of anti-Gephardt op-eds or even Usenet posts, that were actually not anti-Gephardt, but anti-any-Democratic-politician-who-got-caught-in-the-author's-crosshairs. I hate some pundits.

15% - The chance Hillary Clinton will try for the 2004 Presidential nomination. I do agree, though, that she'll try for the 2008 nomination if there is no Democratic incumbent in the White House. People talk about how Clinton will never win a national election because she's hated by so many of the American people. And she is. So is Bush - let's face reality. But many of these same people talk about Bush's reelection like it's already happened.

45% - The chance that George W. Bush will be reelected (or elected, if you prefer). This may shock many people. I know quite a few individuals who are convinced Bush has the next election in the bag. After all, it's quite possible that, a year and a half before the election, Bush is going to have a victory in Iraq under his belt and a popularity rating in the 80s. How can he lose? In all seriousness, guys, the election is two years away. Things are going to happen. Maybe good things for Bush. Maybe bad things for Bush. We don't know.

Finally, a parting thought about the election.

Any Democratic candidate capable of winning the nomination is capable of beating Bush. And Bush is capable of beating any candidate the Dems have to offer. Should he win the nomination, Howard Dean will have exactly as much political prestige as Joe Lieberman would have had. Think about it.
:: Twistre 12:27 AM [+] ::
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:: Saturday, January 04, 2003 ::
This piece that Fark linked to was enough to inspire an entry here. But it's not due to anything in the meat and bones of the article. I won't pretend to know whether a liberal bias exists or not, although I do think everyone tends to see media coverage as biased against their own points of view.

The little bit on Sitcom 2000 did irk me a bit. Now, maybe Al Gore was, from some points of view, the rightful winner of Florida's electoral votes. And maybe, again from some points of view because there can be no ultimate truth when it comes to messy human emotion and instinct, Al Gore should rightfully have been inagaurated as the nation's 43rd President. Hey, I voted for Gore, reluctantly. I wanted him to win, and I finished out the year highly pissed off at Bush and his loyal corps of pundits.

But. Other than maybe some propaganda value, the fact that Gore beat Bush in the popular vote has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that, maybe, Gore should have won the last election. Period. And the longer Gore's supporters continue to harp on his irrelevant popular vote victory, the easier it will be for Bush's men to cling to their undeserved moral high ground and patiently explain that the electoral vote is all that matters.

Throughout the final weeks of Sitcom 2000, people everywhere were staring at the maps showing blue states, red states, and white states based on polling data. Many of those states had diagonal stripes. Remember those maps? You'll see them again in less than two years. And a lot of people came to the same conclusion: it was quite possible that Gore would finish Election Day with less popular votes than Bush, but a majority in the Electoral College. I remember a lot of people discussing that possibility; I remember no one discussing the reverse. On Election Day itself, a popular loss but electoral victory for Gore stood in my mind as the most likely of 4 possible outcomes. And I'm sure that, had that outcome happened, many, many partisan Gore supporters would be up on top of that same undeserved moral high ground.

Does this mean I agree with those Bush-backers, cozy in their smug little cocoons of righteousness, who explain like slightly exasperated parents that Gore's supporters would be promoting the Electoral College's virtues has things progressed differently? No. The article linked to above mentions a memo indicating Bush's supporters would have proclaimed him victor anyway had Gore scored an electoral college victory but lost the popular vote. But why do we need a memo to know that? Does anyone doubt it would have happened? Does the information shock anyone?

I often feel like people try to convince me of glaring asymmetries between the Dems and the GOP. But I honestly don't believe there is any asymmetry at all.
:: Twistre 5:02 AM [+] ::
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I'm not quite an active participant on the Brunching Shuttlecocks message boards, but I do lurk, and occasionally post (but haven't yet gotten above the board's Scrappy Doo status). A recent thread on the board directed me to a recent Jack Chick tract.

I normally do not care about Chick in the slightest. Unlike many people in this age when pretending to be an evangelical Christian fundamentalist is considered high comedy, Chick seems to be precisely what he appears to be. But his worldview differs enough from mine that he might as well be from a different planet. And he's not entertaining.

The tract in question is noteworthy, I think, even though it's the first one I've ever read. Go ahead and follow the link. Note that he portrays Muslims as not celebrating Sept. 11 in the slightest, and a group of Christians as violent thugs.

And yet. His basic worldview is so warped, that he almost literally cannot help but be incredibly condescending.

It's almost a thing of beauty.
:: Twistre 1:06 AM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 ::
I apologize for the delay since my last entry, and I promise to begin following in the footsteps of other political bloggers, and post often whether I have something to say or not.

I don't often comment on African-American issues, being a spectacularly white boy from Maine and all. But I'm growing convinced that the party that I nominally belong to - the Dems - are in the process of completely losing the ball when it comes to being the party of African-Americans. I can't think of a single prominent black Democrat who would make a remotely plausible Presidential contender right now. Maybe Harold Ford, Jr. in 10 - 20 years. Now look at the Republicans, where Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice would become immediate, serious Presidential contenders for 2008 should either of them change their minds about running.

This is interesting, although I only recognize a handful of predictors. Suprising that Glenn Reynolds, quite possibly the head Blogger, with whom I often disagree but whose intelligence I respect, has chosen Howard Dean as most likely to recieve the Dem's nomination in 2004. I'd like to see his rationale. A reminder for all those quick to dismiss Dean, though: he may have an uphill fight to the nomination, but if he does recieve it he'll find himself on exactly the same level that Lieberman or Kerry would have been on.
:: Twistre 9:43 PM [+] ::
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