JONAH GOLDBERG RESPONDS. But not very convincingly. Here's the nut of it:
I think Ezra is desperate to misconstrue my point so that he can wag his finger and whine about mean and dishonest conservatives. My point was simple. The American economy depends on fossil fuels and the world depends on the Amerrican [sic] economy.
THE CASE AGAINST READER MAIL. In response to the proposition that people should sometimes "make some decisions which are different from the ones dictated by narrow self-interest in a social context deeply shaped by the enduring legacy of sexism," reader J.R. remarks that my views are "simply fascism with a velvet glove." But I wrote them in a blog post, making it "hard fascism with a Microsoft face" in a velvet glove, which is really bad. Seriously, to coin a phrase, everyone needs to stop being such wankers about this. People make judgments about the prudential or ethical merits of others' life choices all the time -- that's not "fascism," it's functioning in human society.
BODY POLITICS. The July/August print issue of the Prospect has a three-article package on abortion politics that is now available online, and worth a look. Helena Silverstein and Wayne Fishmanassess the Supreme Court's swing voter on abortion, Anthony Kennedy, while Allison Stevensreports on a crucial shortcoming in the choice movement's strategy.
EMERGENT MEME WATCH.Joe Scarborough is a real problem for my channel-flipping habit. Every time I happen across his program, I pause, figuring I've found Friends, only to realize that someone gave Chandler a rightwing talkshow. It's no mere resemblance -- the two look precisely identical. It's such a shame, I never figured Chandler the Republican type.
NEVER SACRIFICE? I don't really want to spend all day on this, but Jonah Goldberg's posted and endorsed an email on Linda Hirshman that makes the bizarre claims that her arguments are "fantastically illiberal" because "Hardly anyone in our deeply liberal society argues that we should sacrifice our desires to a greater good � the churches do, ever so timidly, but that's about it."
THE DAILY SHOW REVISITED. I awoke this morning to a gleeful Lee Siegelpost trumpeting a new study that shows, just as Siegel predicted, that exposure to The Daily Show turns viewers off of politics. "Jon Stewart's show," Siegel wrote, "is destroying democracy as we know it."
THAT WAS THEN. So I woke up in the middle of the night and flicked on TCM. And there was The Shoes of the Fisherman, the 1968 Michael Anderson-lensed (as they say in Variety) adaptation of the famous Morris West novel about the ascension of the first Eastern European Pope.
I was transfixed. I remember both novel and film being much discussed in my house when I was a kid, although I don�t really remember anyone�s opinions. I think I recall my late, beloved Aunt Vicky, who was the devout Catholic among our extended clan, speaking of it approvingly. Which is interesting for the following reasons.
SCOTUS STANDS UP. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised by the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hamdan case. Ordinarily, the Court is very deferential to executive assertions of national security authority and then turns around and changes its mind years after the fact. Note also that conservative "strict constructionists" continue to believe that the Bill of Rights secretly doesn't apply . . . when the President says it doesn't.
LONG HOURS, HIGH PAY?Greg Mankiwpoints out a new study showing that, in 2002, the top income quintile was twice as likely to work long hours as the bottom quintile. "That is," he writes, "wages and hours worked went from being negatively correlated to being positively correlated. This may be an important piece of the puzzle of rising income inequality." Possibly so. Of course, the bottom quintile are low-wage workers in jobs that rarely pay benefits and often keep employees in a sort of part-time twilight so they don't qualify for health care -- that may be a piece of the puzzle as well.