Archive

  • INCOHERENT LIKE A FOX.

    INCOHERENT LIKE A FOX. OK, do your best with what in the world this means. This is Bush during his roundtable with conservative columnists: This stuff about "stay the course" -- stay the course means, we're going to win. Stay the course does not mean that we're not going to constantly change. So he is staying the course now? An endlessly-mutable course? I give up. -- Spencer Ackerman
  • LOOK OUTWARD.

    LOOK OUTWARD. I�ve admired Katha Pollitt �s work for years and was thrilled to see she took the time to respond to my essay on the lack of women opinion columnists. Pollitt makes some excellent points; indeed, Gail Collins was hardly the sole decision maker when it came to hiring and promoting New York Times columnists. That�s why I wanted to take the focus off Collins and ask some larger questions about the significance of the debate on women in journalism. I believe it�s important to expand the parameters of this discussion: If we�re going to obsess over the number of women with magazine bylines and on newspaper op-ed pages, we shouldn�t disconnect those discussions from concerns about the lack of women congressional representatives, governors, mayors, and state legislators. This doesn�t mean, as Pollitt writes, that I issue �an invitation to editorial complacency.� In fact, I argue explicitly in my piece for byline gender quotas, as put forth by Ann Friedman , to force editors to...
  • BAD OMEN.

    BAD OMEN. There's a great moment near the beginning of the movie Tootsie , in which Dustin Hoffman and his agent are arguing about a play that Hoffman's roommate has written for him. In the play, Hoffman is to play a man who moves back into the toxin-poisoned neighborhood of Love Canal. The agent (played by director Sidney Pollack ) finally explodes, "Nobody will pay to watch people living next to chemical waste. They can see that in New Jersey." This came to mind earlier this afternoon when, while listening to Al Franken 's radio program, he told me to stay tuned to hear from Howard Fineman . Good god, Al. Howard Fineman? Is there a broadcast outlet of any kind in America where I can't see Howard Fineman, so reliably banal a fount of conventionality that he makes David Broder look like Thomas Pynchon ? I swear, last week, I saw Fineman marching in the Texas band at halftime of the Nebraska game, bidding high on a nut straight on the World Series of Poker, warming up in the Cardinals...
  • SEPERATE AND UNEQUAL.

    SEPERATE AND UNEQUAL. To follow up on my general concerns about federal rules intended to make single-sex education more common, Brad Plumer cites the details of the ACLU's suit against gender-based education in Louisiana, which persuasively cites evidence that this education reinforces gender sterotypes. More concerns expressed here and here . I also agree that it's important to make distinctions between K-12 and higher education here; unless the programs involved are very specialized (like VMI), having single-sex univiersities is much less likely to foreclose opportunities for women than single-sex high schools. --Scott Lemieux
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BATTLESTAR GALACTICONS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: BATTLESTAR GALACTICONS. Sadly, No! 's Brad Reed analyzes the pervasive and frightening phenomenon of sci-fi-influenced conservative foreign policy punditry. Galacticons, dorko-fascists, and jingonauts -- read the whole thing , it's an eye-opening assessment. --The Editors
  • TRYING TO STEELE YOUR VOTE.

    TRYING TO STEELE YOUR VOTE. They just love to distort. Michael Steele 's got a new ad featuring his sister defending his position on stem cell research. "There�s something you should know about Michael Steele," she says. "He does support stem cell research, and he cares deeply for those who suffer from disease. How do I know? I�m Michael Steele�s little sister. I have MS, and I know he cares about me." Anyone remember this ? Even as [Steele] berated the president, the candidate allowed that he opposes a pullout from Iraq, agrees with Bush's veto of human embryonic stem cell research, and supports constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and flag burning. Obviously, the devil is in the details. Steele supports adult stem cell research. He doesn't support embryonic stem cell research. He's trying to confuse voters on the issue, and using his sister's condition to imply that he'd never oppose treatments that could help someone so close to him. But he does. In case you were...
  • AFGHAN WIGS.

    AFGHAN WIGS. Rob , I liked your piece defending the worthy invasion of Afghanistan. If I can make one criticism: early in the piece you ask, "If we�ve come to the conclusion now that the Iraq invasion was a mistake, then how do we evaluate the disaster on the other side of Iran?" I don't see how a reevaluation of Afghanistan follows from the disaster in Iraq, except as something of an academic exercise. For the reasons that you ably explain, these are really different wars, with really different objectives and fought for really different reasons. It's an annoying trope of Christopher Hitchens 's, among others, to intimate that calls for withdrawal from Iraq are merely one symptom of a general bug-out tendency on the left, rather than a discrete analysis of Iraq qua Iraq. I know that's not what you're up to, but it's worth keeping the distinctions in mind. Second -- and at the risk of undermining my point -- the question we need to be asking ourselves about Afghanistan is: what now ?...
  • IF YOU LIKE...

    IF YOU LIKE THE WAR ON (SOME CLASSES OF PEOPLE WHO USE SOME) DRUGS, YOU'LL LOVE ABORTION CRIMINALIZATION. Jill Filipovic , while discussing the incredibly draconian new abortion ban set to be enacted in Nicaragua (which doesn't even have an exemption of the life of the mother), points us to data which reinforces a point that should be central to pro-choice discourse: abortion bans are failures even on their own terms . The Latin American nations which best reflect the combination of draconian bans, miserly social services, moralistic sex "education," and reactionary gender relations favored by most American pro-life groups also have very high abortion rates, much higher than those in most countries where abortion is not only legal but state-funded. Because affluent women have access to abortion even in regimes far more serious about enforcing bans than the United States ever was , and many women without the connections to get safe abortions will seek them on the black market, abortion...
  • A WEBB OF LIES.

    A WEBB OF LIES. A few quick points on the ostensibly grotesque sexual scenes in James Webb 's fiction. The first is that it's rather remarkable how few of them there are. The guy's a war novelist -- and somehow, the testosterone pumping through those stories tends to enable no end of pornographic asides. And yet only three of the examples on George Allen 's list are actually sexual in nature. One is a scene set in strip club where a stripper mounts a banana. Another has two male prisoners engaging in furtive mutual masturbation. And then there's the the real excerpt : �A shirtless man walked toward them along a mud pathway. His muscles were young and hard, but his face was devastated with wrinkles. His eyes were so red that they appeared to be burned by fire. A naked boy ran happily toward him from a little plot of dirt. The man grabbed his young son in his arms, turned him upside down, and put the boy�s penis in his mouth.� That seemed a bit odd to me too. It's fiction, to be sure,...
  • WHAT WE DIDN'T DO.

    WHAT WE DIDN'T DO. Rob , in your piece defending the Afghanistan war, you imply that the massive support the U.S. enjoyed both in that moment and for that mission could've been used to achieve a variety of other goals: Iran, for instance, approached us in the days following, anxious to follow up on their cooperation with a Grand Bargain that would derail their nuclear program in response for security guarantees, better relations, and possible incentives from America. That about right? And given that our decapitation of the Taliban made us look strong (while our failed occupation in Iraq made us look weak), we could've bargained from a position of power and intimidation. In some ways, it's always seemed to me that the least forgivable aspects of the Iraq war aren't about the war itself, but the extraordinary moment and opportunities we sacrificed to pursue it. Update: Iran's overtures, I'm reminded, where in the Spring of 2003, so after we'd entered Iraq. The groundwork, as Gareth...

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