Sunday, November 25, 2007

Television Moments to Savor 11.24.07

During yesterday's football game between Florida and Florida State, at the beginning of half time, a vapid television reporter cornered Bobby Bowden, FSU coach, whose team was losing (and lost! Go Gators!), and said something to the effect of "You're going to have to do better." To which Bowden replied, "If you tell me how, we will."

Way to GO, Bobby!

(The most insipid moments in television happen during these impromptu interviews. There oughta be a law!)

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ah, Wordsmiths and Spin

DGR(s), you absolutely must zip over to a New York Times article, "Taking Science on Faith," by Paul Davies.

It's very interesting, it's plausible, and it's a touch sneakily "bogus" itself.

Davies' thesis is that science, itself, is a matter, ultimately, of faith. His argument is that, since science has yet to prove the ultimate moment of creation or to explain why or how scientific "laws" came into being, all scientific understanding is a matter of faith, not a matter of "scientific certainty."

Davis is slyly insinuating that monotheism has just as much claim to explaining the universe as science. And, in the way he couched his argument, there's little to debate.

The problem, Dear Gentle Reader(s), it seems to me is that science doesn't abjure a rational creator; it says with some certainty that there is no indication there is a creator possessed of the irrational personality quirks of human beings.

One of the many moments of wisdom learned from the good nuns at St. Anthony's Parochial School in Beaumont, Texas, is this little gem, "God can do the improbable, but not the impossible."

That sounds like a good riposte to Davies, but, DGR, you're welcomed to add a comment or two.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Catchy Phrasing snares Novak and China*

The citations aren't good (they'd never pass any sort of muster), so take these as you choose, Dear Gentle Reader(s).

Yesterday on "Countdown," one of Keith Olberman's guests referred to the Plame leaker Robert Novak as a "gossip columnist."

This morning on NPR's "Morning Edition," a person commenting about America's use of "Smart Power" (a combination of military might and diplomacy and exporting ideas), used the phrase, "Genocide Olympics" while referring to China's 2012 hosting of the Olympic Games (referencing China's seeming unwillingness to put sufficient pressure on the government of Sudan during the humanitarian crises occurring in Darfur).

Novak has been relegated to the penultimate trash heap of history, but the China Olympics still have some resonance. One has to wonder if the Chinese government would respond to a worldwide use of "Genocide Olympics."

Language is wonderful. Is it powerful enough to change a government's policies?

*Update The NPR speaker is Joseph Nye; podcast might be available here (* don't know how this podcasting works).

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Wish I'd Said That! 11.19.07 Updated

Arron Belkin over at Huffington Post takes the brouhaha about Ronald Reagan's Neshoba County Fair speech into a quick look at the politics of fear.

Just about anyone who pays attention will concede that politicians who play the race card are not, themselves, racists. What they are are politicians who believe that sullying oneself in the cause of a greater good is a necessary unpleasantness. Working on this agreement, Belkin shows how this "unpleasantness" tends to weaken the body politic, and how it is working to make us weaker today, especially in the run up to the presidential primaries.

It's worth a few minutes to read Belkin's piece.

Update: Paul Krugman discusses the issue in The New York Times.

Agape, Dear Gentle Reader(s)

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Don'ctcha Love Conundra?

(Is conundra a word? Another conundrum!)

Here's a hed and caption from the online The New York Times: "U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD With the future of Pakistan's leadership in doubt, debate is growing about whether a classified program has done enough."

Dear Gentle Reader(s), one trusts your attention immediately picked up on the logical problem--if this program is such a secret, what is it doing on the front page of The New York Times?

Someone who had knowledge of the program "leaked" the story to Sanger and Broad. Why? To foster debate? To let us know we're more "on top" of the situation in Pakistan than we'd previously known? To help Musharraf? To hurt him?

The article makes known the fact that the Times has known of the program for "...more than three years, based on interviews with a range of American officials and nuclear experts, some of whom were concerned that Pakistan’s arsenal remained vulnerable. The newspaper agreed to delay publication of the article after considering a request from the Bush administration, which argued that premature disclosure could hurt the effort to secure the weapons."

Since then elements of the program have been discussed in the Paki media, and the Administration has removed its objection to publication.

U.S. participation in this "protection" is good. It's good to know that someone, somewhere is watching the store.

So, the conundrum of the day: how far can the administration go to reassure the American public and still maintain a necessary level of secrecy when secrecy is needed in a particular situation?

Which of course, Dear Gentle Reader(s), begs the question, "Why does the public, in large part, distrust this administration?"


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Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Snit Continues

Dear Andrew simply cannot let it go. Today's Dish has him responding to a nicely written, and written with admiration, it would seem, tut about his fulminations regarding TipGate (did the campaign worker charged with the responsibility of leaving a tip leave the tip or not?).

Andy had posited earlier that the brouhaha is a result of Clintonian campaign perfidy. "It's an absolutely trivial story - but its triviality is what's telling."

Sullivan wraps up his post in this vein: "I covered the Clintons for eight years. The one thing I learned about them is that they lie. It's reflexive to them; after decades of the lying that tends to infect the households of addicts, they don't have a normal person's understanding of truth and falsehood. They have an average sociopath's understanding of truth and falsehood."

Strong words prompted by what could have been (or not--let's be fair!) an honest mistake by an assistant to an assistant to an assistant. And the first denial (which Sullivan calls a lie) could well have been uttered in disbelief that such a silly mistake could've been made in the first place.

Sullivan is so spot on in so many matters. What explains his blinkered vision of the Clintons?

And for heaven's sake, what demons won't let him admit that the trivial is trivial and that we should get on with figuring out how to win this ideological struggle of the century?

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Psst! Andrew! Chill!

Over at The Daily Dish Andrew Sullivan is having a little case of the tetchies. It seems that, finally, some of his loyal readers (moi meme included) are taking him to task over his comments about Senator Clinton as a possible President Clinton. Andrew is bridling a bit.

To say that Sullivan is negative towards Mrs. Clinton is to understate.

Here are a couple of quotes from The Dish from November 9, 2007, a day short of the election in a year:

"One reason I cannot stand Hillary Clinton is that I'm a feminist." (DGR, this quote follows a citation from Peggy Noonan, of all people. You must read the entry.)*

"It's worth recalling: just because their enemies were ften vile doesn't mean the Clintons did give plenty to work with - often needlessly. Another term of the two of them could well lead to the same kind of sexual scandals that distracted and near-paralyzed affairs of state in the 1990s. If you don't believe that, then you simply haven't grasped the depth of Bill Clinton's needs and compulsions and Hillary Clinton's life-long enabling of them." (link)

"I am told by my Clinton-friendly readers that I am obsessed with this matter, seized with hatred, a mouthpiece for Republican talking points, a woman-hater, etc etc. Fine. Whatever. Have your say.
But if you think we would be electing a normal presidential candidate in Hillary Clinton, as opposed to a co-dependent, scandal-drawn power-couple with almost no accountability within their marriage, let alone outside it, then you're welcome to your delusions.
I just want this on the record, ok? If you want to pick them again, do so with your eyes open

Notice, Dear Gentle Reader(s), what Andrew does not address? Right! Sullivan does not address any of the policies Mrs. Clinton has offered, nor anything about her effectiveness (or lack of effectiveness) as a senator.

Andrew's sole antipathy for Mrs. Clinton seems to be a Church-lady-like gut reaction to the Clinton's marriage, and he anticipates another sex scandal. Oh, tsk!

For a writer who espouses wonderful ideas about limited government, and all that that entails in its penumbra (love the word--no idea what it means, but it rolls deliciously off the tongue), Sullivan seems to be quite the harpy about some one else's private life.

Please, Andrew. Stop being facile in your criticism of Mrs. Clinton. Be specific. Leave the dirt to the Rovians and the clowns on talk radio. If you don't like her health care plan, say so, and say why.

*P.S. I, too, am a feminist. (And Thatcher, et al., didn't have to stand for a national office as a single person. That makes a difference, doesn't it?) So the score stands even. Gay Male Feminists are split on the Hillary Clinton candidacy: 1 Yes, 1 No.

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