Inter Symbol Interference

Open Up Your Eye Diagrams!

Friday, September 22, 2006

More kvetching about Slate

You can take this post from C. Pierce, replace references to "Dana Milbank" and "television" to "John Dickerson" and "Slate," and suddenly have a very real idea of my opinion on this article. Basically, a new slew of journos working the political beat are engaging the "torture debate" without troubling themselves with actually recognizing the disgusting ramifications of legally sanctioned torture. Maybe I'm looking at it all wrong, and maybe it's important for Dickerson to refrain from making value judgements in the pursuit of cold, clinical analysis of politics. But does anyone work that way?

Even the dismal economists recognize the human costs of policy A vs. policy B on top of presenting the straight-up calculated and abstract results. Why can't Dickerson's conclusions not only involve "The torture debate is a political winner," but "Torture is a terrible affront to our values with a track record that shouldn't be trusted and consequences that leave us less secure"? I mean, jeez, even if he doesn't agree with that assesment of Geneva violations (making him barbaric!), he could at least take the time to sell the opposite position, where torture is magick and life is like an episode of 24. Torture has, sadly, emerged as a defining question for our time, and Dickerson is too wrapped up in the horse-race aspect to honestly weigh in. That don't make me feel good.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Comparing Abu Ghraib to Oranges

From Jacob Weisberg:
Strategically minded Republicans expect that soon after assuming power, the Democrats would launch a partisan jihad against President Bush, and that the hearings and harassment would backfire. Right-wingers also hope Democrats will initiate impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush, repeating the very mistake Republicans made with Bill Clinton in 1998.
Here's something to think about: Bill Clinton's approval rating prior to, during, and following impeachment was solid at 60%. George W. Bush's have hung tough at 40% for a long time now -- and let's assume he'll stay that way (America knows what his governance is all about, and he's not one to change course even in the face of obvious failure). Initiating impeachment proceedings against popular Clinton is widely accepted as a mistake. Even if initiating impeachment proceedings against unpopular Bush proves a mistake, it's improper to characterize it as the very same mistake. This without even going into the relative merits of the two cases for impeachment, which would only make more ridiculous any claims of equivalence between the two scenarios. Lying about breaking your marital vows is different from lying about breaking the fourth amendement.

On a different note, I recognize Slate gets off on being contrarian across the board, and this article continues the aggravating tradition. More on this later, but allow me now to simply confess: I pray to God no one in power of the Democratic party actually buys into this "Losing Is Winning!" meme. Losing means the country signing up for another two years of jeopardy. Just to take a subset, I'm confident that risking future OTC contraception hold ups, reduced stem cell funding, crony corruption, propaganda payola, and legalized torture aren't worth a 2% greater chance of winning in '08 -- or is it half a percent? Or is it a 2% greater chance of losing? You don't know. Go for the sure thing and make the country a better place.

UPDATE: Forgot the title.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Baby steps, Louie. Been awhile since you helmed one o' these blogs....

From the Atlantic:
"[I]f a baby is crawling toward an area that might be dangerous and an adult makes a horrified or disgusted face, the baby usually knows enough to stay away."
Emphasis added. All I really have to add at this point is that some social scientist out there has the world's greatest blooper reel on her hands. "Usually." That cracks me up.