Archive

  • Knocking Down Domino Theory

    By Ezra Robert Farley does a bang-up job of, well, banging up domino theory today, and I'm glad to see him doing it. From Ben Stein's insane editorials after Deep Throat revealed himself to Peggy Noonan's odd pivot at the end of the first chapter of her memoirs, the essential rightness of domino theory keeps popping up among right-wing "intellectuals" as proof of the left's basic naiveté and idiocy. It shouldn't. Domino theory is the sort of supratheory used as trump card by those who want to justify war when the conflict itself is unjustified. It also, helpfully, lets them argue for indefinite warfare, even when our continued presence would render our immediate objectives harder to attain and do enormous damage to us, our enemies, and all civilians unlucky enough to become collateral. That's the sort of theory that deserves extra-super-special scrutiny and domino theory, as it stands, doesn't hold up. The threat in domino theory, of course, was that American weakness anywhere would...
  • The Failing, Faltering Media

    By Ezra It's interesting that in a discussion where everyone agrees on much, the one thing no one disputes is that the press is blind, deaf, and dumb. In the ID debate, and particularly the paragraph Melissa excerpted below, the problem isn't bias, it's ignorance. The reporter is clearly trying to call ID a "mere" theory and then show that scientists reject it as "scientific" theory, but he's got the definitions all wrong, he's conflating the colloquial and the academic, and ending with incoherence. Policy reporting, in the contemporary press corps, is worse than bad. On an intellectual level, it's criminally negligent. During the 1994 Health Care Battle, polls showed that the American people knew less about Clinton's plan as time went on. So from the start, and through the press's blanket coverage, news consumers actually lost information. That's a staggering statistic if you think about it. When the fight was ending, polls were done on what sort of health care system Americans...
  • Salon-a-Thon: Media Bias

    Shakes here… Ezra tells me he’d like to hear my response to his Media Bias posts, so off I go… Mannion and Ezra are both right and wrong. Mannion, the observer, sees a press who had it in for Clinton, and Ezra, the wonk, sees a press who rightfully turned the stupid actions of a president into news stories that sell. They aren’t, as they first appear, contrasting theories of what happened. What’s missing is the connecting piece between the two that Shakes, the anthropologist, can’t help but see—human nature, that confounding and unshakable thing that makes a term like “media bias” not a theory, but an inevitable and intractable fact. The media are, in the end, just people, and people are not objective, even if the press is meant to be. It’s not only just possible, but likely, that the media covering Clinton, who, as noted in Ezra’s piece, were Clinton supporters to the man, were frustrated by a successful president who undermined his ability to effectively do his job because he couldn...
  • Nice Country You Have Here...Shame If Anything Should Happen To It

    So how's that Iraqi Constitution going? Well, glad you asked ... Sunni Arab political leaders condemned a draft of Iraq's proposed constitution handed to them on Saturday, saying it was unlikely that they would approve the document and that it could provoke even more violence . And they scrambled to arrange meetings to revise the document even as Shiite and Kurdish leaders insisted that it would be published without substantial changes. ... "We still have some hope that we could reach something," said Saleh Mutlak, a leading Sunni member of the constitutional committee, referring to the ongoing struggles to reach agreement with his Shiite and Kurdish colleagues. "If we reach it, fair enough. If we don't, then they have to take responsibility for what happens if this constitution is passed." Asked what the consequences of such a rupture might be, Mr. Mutlak said: "The violence will go up, the hope among the people will go down. And the extremists will be the ones who are in control of...
  • Covering His Bases

    The question that really must be asked is Why is John Roberts objectively pro-slavery ? Not only is the guy an affront to what Sandra Day O'Connor represented, but this memo makes him look a slap in the face to Thurgood Marshall.
  • More on Media Bias

    Alright -- I know this'll be even less popular than the last post, but since I've already sprayed flame-retardant on, let's do it: Is Bush really that popular with the press corps? Shakes, Mannion, and Paul all say he is. But I'm not sure where they're seeing it. I get three papers in my inbox each morning and, I've got to tell you, not one of them shakes my faith in liberalism. All I seem to read about are a) Iraq going to hell, b) gas prices rocketing towards the heavens, c) protesters on Bush's doorstep, d) John Roberts mocking women, and e) the health care system crumbling. So when Shakes says the media is afraid to criticize him, what does she mean? The folks who do supposed "objective reporting" are certainly giving ample time to everything going wrong in the country, they're certainly not buying the spin on Iraq, they're certainly not glossing over gas prices. I mean, granted, I'd like to see the New York Times put "BUSH A DOUCHE FOR GOING ON VACATION" in 48-point type in...
  • Media Bias

    (This is really long so, uh, sorry about that) I think we in Blogland can sometimes get too excited about building press persecution sets. Witness, here, Digby on the press's hatred for Hart, and Mannion on its revulsion for Clinton. Happily, Hart and Clinton are the two politicians I know the most about. I got into politics because I wanted to work for Gary Hart, who I first got a wonk's crush on while reading Richard Ben Cramer's What It Takes . When I began working for the nascent Hart campaign in 2003, I read just about every news story ever written on the guy. We're talking thousands of Nexis results between 1984 and 1988, in addition to books, journal articles, and memoirs. I'm rather confident I know about as much on Donna Rice as anyone. Clinton was my next stop. I read Maraniss, and Primary Colors, of course. I read Michael Kelly on both family members, Hendrik Hertzberg, Chris Hitchens, James Carville, John Harris, the whole crew. I loved reading about the guy, I still find...
  • The Business Judge

    Nathan's completely right on this. I was talking with someone the other day about why Bush, with Rove running the demographics, hadn't nominated a Hispanic, a woman, or a Hispanic woman to the seat. It wasn't like this President wanted to go with a white male. He likes to think he's deeply connected to the Hispanic community, he's proud of his poor quality Spanish (which is, to be fair, better than my non-existent Spanish), his first choice was named Gonzales, and his political advisor wants to build a majority among Hispanics. So why the the Norman Rockwell nominee? Simple. Business. Dobson's so loud, Robertson's so entertaining, and Falwell's so grotesque that they and the movement they lead often obscures all other Republican constituencies from view. Why watch the National Association of Manufacturers when Focus on the Family is comparing Democrats to Hitler? But Business remains the GOP's single most important constituency, and they've not been particularly pleased that Terry...
  • Whither Georgia?

    Ed Kilgore's got a good post on the "Who Lost the South?" debate that folks interested in the subject should probably read. I think his points lines up well with my argument that the Civil Rights Act destroyed the region's Democratic identification, but it's the culture clash and the Party ID, not the racial politics, which still hold us back years later. The reason McGovern matters, though, is that 1968 and the McGovern convention really pounded that split home. It was right after Wallace had peeled off our supporters and suddenly we were running a guy who, for all his other attributes, struck this region as an alien life form. As Kilgore notes, Jimmy Carter provided a welcome interruption by being a Southern, religious, former naval officer, but his perceived wimpiness in the executive's chair ended up reinforcing our problems -- even when we run a tough guy, they'll govern like a scared child. Reagan, of course, codified the split in 1980, creating Reagan Democrats, who today are...
  • Pat Robertson Just Needs a Good Spanking

    Josh Marshall says : Okay, so Pat Robertson now says he's sorry for calling for the assassination of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. But sometimes when a child keeps acting out and we find that the parents have continued to indulge the misbehavior rather asserting some discipline or control, we rightly conclude that the real fault lies with the parents rather than with the child. Calling Dr. Dobson: The most common error is inconsistent discipline. According to Dr. Dobson, if the rules change every day or if there isn’t an inevitable consequence to be anticipated for wrong actions, then a child might see if he can “beat the system.” The key to effective discipline is knowing your child. Some kids can be brought to tears with a stern look, while others seem to require strong disciplinary measures to make a vivid impression. “It is possible for twice the amount of punishment to yield half of the results,” Dr. Dobson says.

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