Thursday, July 31, 2003

Bloggers Choose the Top 20 Movies

It's over at Right Wing News.

It's a pretty good list except that there are no John Wayne movies. How can you pick Forrest Gump over Stagecoach? For that matter, is Animal House really better than High Plains Drifter or Dirty Harry?

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Demented World of Michael Savage

Apparently Michael Savage is carried on 300 stations. Having just heard him for the first time on WHP 580, i don't know why.

He is loud certainly, but what does he offer beyond shouting and name-calling? Even G. Gordon Liddy usually provides some information and analysis as part of his show. Savage is all shtick and it isn't even a good shtick.

Savage- a putative conservative who chooses to live in San Francisco-- has stations across the country. Yet he drips with condescension for the hinterlands. Saturday he continually referred to Kobe Bryant's alleged "Rocky Mountain Trash" and a "mountain trash slut." He called her home town a "retrograde community", "Latrine Colorado" and "Buzzard Colorado".

In a weird way, Savage is the creation of media liberalism. He sounds and acts the way liberals think conservatives do. Media planners in Manhattan advertising agencies think that his attitudes are typical of the guys who drive trucks and so they buy time on his show for GM and Ford.

It is good business for Savage and maybe he really believes some of what he says. I just hate that some people see him as representative of the right.
Outing the Victim

This old article from Jay Nordlinger is interesting in light of the Kobe Bryant case.

In the spring of 1989, the Central Park “wilding” occurred. That was the monstrous rape and beating of a young white woman, known to most of the world as “the jogger.” The hatred heaped on her by Sharpton and his claque is almost impossible to fathom, and wrenching to review. Sharpton insisted-against all evidence-that the attackers were innocent. They were, he said, modern Scottsboro Boys, trapped in “a fit of racial hysteria.” Unspeakably, he and his people charged that the victim’s own boyfriend had raped and beaten her to the point of death. Outside the courthouse, they chanted, “The boyfriend did it! The boyfriend did it!” They denounced the victim as “Whore!” They screamed her name, over and over (because most publications refused to print it, though several black-owned ones did). Sharpton brought Tawana Brawley to the trial one day, to show her, he said, the difference between white justice and black justice. He arranged for her to meet the jogger’s attackers, whom she greeted with comradely warmth. In another of his publicity stunts, he appealed for a psychiatrist to examine the victim. “It doesn’t even have to be a black psychiatrist,” he said, generously. He added: “We’re not endorsing the damage to the girl — if there was this damage.”

See, once upon a time it was conservatives who thought attacking the victim in rape cases was reprehensible. We condemned Sharpton for it. We condemned the Carvilles and Blumenthals when they defended Clinton this way. But now Sean Hannity invites Leykis on the air to discuss "double standards" in the handling of rape cases.
It Figures

So that piece of scum Tom Leykis is a wife-beater. Michael Savage and Tom Leykis. Kobe must be proud of his media posse.

Monday, July 28, 2003

What Russia was to Napoleon...

...the Kobe case will be for Fox News.

At least that is the way it is shaping up now. The network’s "coverage" of the matter is almost certain to alienate the key audience that has helped it take the lead in the ratings hunt.

Two-thirds of its prime-time lineup seems to be pro-Kobe. It is no surprise that Greta van Sustren's "On the Record" falls that way. She fills her show with defense attorneys whose instinct is to create reasonable doubt. Reflexively, the show's experts seize on all the facts and unattributed statements that put the alleged victim in a bad light.

It is a shock, though, to watch Hannity and Colmes and realize that you agree with Colmes. Hannity, for some reason, has decided to run with the Kobe posse and retail those same rumors. He brays about double standards as though this is the first victim whose anonymity is protected. In fact, it is Hannity and his ilk who want to treat this case differently.

Fox is no worse than MSNBC in this regard. But that is the problem. Fox owes its rise in the ratings to being different than the usual media outlets. Fox seemed to reflect the values of "red America". But in the Kobe case Fox is acting out of character and mocking those values.

Behind the electoral map of red and blue America lies a cultural divide. As Den Beste has pointed out repeatedly, Jacksonian America sees things differently than does the media. As Mead shows in this essay, Jacksonian values-- honor, equality and courage run deep.

Not discussed in the essay is another Jacksonian quality-- a roughhewn chivalry toward women. It is an important element in Jacksonian honor.

Andrew Jackson himself set the standard here. He fought duels in defense of his wife’s good name and in one instance killed the man who slurred her. In his first term he fired most of his cabinet because their wives refused to accept Peggy Eaton socially and disparaged her morals and suitability as a Cabinet wife.

Trashing the 19 year old alleged victim is antithetical to this concept of honor. Keeping silent as it occurs in front of you is the opposite of courage.

Many reporters seem instinctively pro-Kobe. In Jacksonian America we wonder if that is because Bryant is a rich celebrity athlete. We doubt that the average person would receive the same active defense. "Fair and balanced" is for politics. In this case, the coastal elites seem to stick up for their own.

I don’t expect Fox News to fall behind CNN tomorrow. This is Russia not Waterloo. But their handling of this story does dilute FNC’s claim to fame: it no longer seems culturally in tune with its audience beyond the coasts. Without that cultural resonance Fox News is just an under-funded pundit-fest with a limited ability to gather hard news on its own. How large an audience is there for that?

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Greatest Americans

Lists of "The Greatest Americans" may overlook important and valuable aspects of our history simply because they are not discrete events or the result of a single individual's work.

Two groups deserving credit, IMHO, are

The Pioneer Women and "domestic engineers".

That some men would want to move into the wilderness is one thing. That women would be willing to put up with the hardships, lack of amenities, danger, and loneliness is quite another. That so many were willing is amazing.

Witold Rybczynski's Home: A Short History of an Idea is one of my favorite books. In it he notes that a group of American women remade how our homes were organized and how domestic work was done. They were "domestic engineers" because they brought the methods of efficiency experts inside the home. Unlike male architects, they were less worried about style and visual appeal and more focused how the house functioned for the family. (Lillian Gilbreth, Catherine Beecher are two who did important work of this sort). As Rybczynski writes:

Anyone who works comfortably at the kitchen counter, or takes dishes out of a dishwasher and places them in a convenient overhead shelf, or dusts the house in an hour, not a day, owes something to the domestic engineer.

Friday, July 25, 2003

More Kobe

Outside the Beltway makes a good point:

While I agree both in general and in this particular case that rape victims should be protected from public scrutiny by the media, I'm aways amazed that so few seem to have any sympathy for the accused.

I actually have a lot of sympathy for the accused. I wish Greta, Rita, Dan and Keith would just shut up about the Bryant case and let the jury system work. No need to drag his name through the mud before the evidence is presented in court.

But i think Bryant has received much more sympathy than Scott Peterson, Martha Stewart, and Kenny Lay. He is getting the benefit of the doubt where they have already been convicted in the public mind.

One of ASV's commenters also made a good point on the fairness of protecting the accuser's privacy.

Why is this one different? Because Bryant is a celebrity. When a celebrity gets arrested, it's considered "news" and reported on. Sorry, them's the breaks. But guess what? If a female celebrity were raped, that would be all over the news as well; the double standard isn't so much accuser vs. accused, but celebrity vs. non-celebrity.

In any case, what I fail to see is why this woman should be treated differently from other alleged rape victims just becuase she allegedly had the misfortune of being raped by a celebrity.
Outside Media Criticism

Good article on this here.

one of the most disturbing trends of the early 21st century — faux media insiderism. A lot of folks seem to have the impression that giving Slate the occassional read is an adequate substitute for actual knowledge when it comes to speculating on the internal politics of major news organizations.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Bryant Case: Outing the Victim

A Small Victory
says it best---

The fact is, this case is different. Here, you have a celebrity with a huge, loyal, rabid following. The reasons for many of these people wanting to know the name of the accuser is so they can harass her. Just look at my comments on any of these posts. Go do a search and find any website that defends Kobe and you'll see what I mean. There are people looking for address so they can stalk her, wait for her to come out of her house and hurl insults at her. There are people who want to physically harm her. They want her email address to send her threatening letters and the only reason they want to see photos of her is so they can post the photos themselves while captioning them with insults.

Bryant's fans - at least this portion of his fans - have already determined that he is innocent. They would rather see this woman dead then see their team play without their hero. Now, that's a sad statement. And that is why I believe this woman's name should not be made public. Of course, it's too late for that, but you will not find that information here, ever.

The argument that outing the victim is "fair" fails on at least three counts.

First, she did not create the media circus, the media did. She is not responsible for the massive coverage that her charges created.

Second, the state of Colorado looked at the accusation and decided to file charges. If Kobe Bryant is in trouble, it is not the simply the result of one woman's statement. The police and DA vetted that statement and found it credible and probably buttressed by forensic evidence.

Third, Bryant's wealth and celebrity provide him a degree of insulation and protection that is not available to this girl and her family. No one who wants to call Kobe is a rapist bastard is going to get within a hundred yards of the guy before the legal proceedings start. He will never see the email. His bodyguards will handle the anything that happen on the street. Mostly, though, he can live inside his mansion and hear nothing.

The alleged victim, however, has none of these advantages. The legal and moral protections victims are usually given have been stripped away by fat, sanctimonious pigs like Leykis. It may be inevitable but it is neither fair nor right.

If I was Bryant, though, I would worry about this media assault on the girl. It does not help his image today; if it encourages his "fans" to harass the girl, it is even worse. And at the extreme, does he want to be Jodie Foster for some dirtbag doing a Hinckley?

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Kobe Bryant

This column from Sunday is looking mighty prescient.

The whole nature of that little town is going to change. Because the media is going to descend there and people like to be on television. We're going to see lots of people vilified. We'll hear the district attorney is a bad guy, the sheriff is a bad guy, the girl is bad, her brother is bad . . . The sort of things that happen all the time to the rest of us during our lives will be dug up and used. We're going to know it all. But most people will never know where it's coming from.
More on the 20 Greatest Americans

The results of the blogger poll kicked off some controversy, especially since no women made the final list. (Check out Rightwing News and Spoons as a starting point.)

I'm sort of surprised that no one has suggested Phyllis Schlafly as a possible addition. No, i wouldn't rank her with Jefferson or FDR, but her contributions compare favorably to Gloria Steinem who was suggested by some bloggers.

One of the best things Coulter ever wrote was an appreciation of Schlafly that appeared in Slander. An abbreviated version can be found here.

About the time a young Hillary Rodham was serving as inspiration for the perfect little girl in the Hollywood thriller "The Bad Seed," Schlafly was remaking the Republican Party.

In 1964, Schlafly wrote "A Choice, Not An Echo," widely credited with winning Barry Goldwater the Republican nomination for president. The book sold an astounding 3 million copies. (The average nonfiction book sells 5,000 copies.) Goldwater lost badly in the general election, but the Republican Party would never be the same.
As the feminists spent 20 years engaged in a death-match debate over whether it is acceptable for feminists to wear lipstick, Schlafly was writing 10 books, most of them on military policy.
About the same time, Schlafly noticed that the Equal Rights Amendment was sailing toward ratification without anyone noticing. When Schlafly took up her battle against the ERA, the Senate had passed it by 84 to 8. The House had passed it by 354 to 23. The ERA was written into both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms. Thirty states had approved it in the first year after it was sent to the states for ratification. Only eight more states were needed.

But the ERA had not yet faced Phyllis Schlafly. Over the next eight years, thanks to Schlafly and her Eagle Forum, only five states ratified it – but five other states rescinded their earlier ratifications.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Failing Upward

Jack Dunphy at NRO has a good article on the media and big-time crime stories. I especially like this:

Offering commentary on Fox News Friday night was Marcia Clark, who for some reason beyond my understanding is still sought out for these occasions despite having culminated her modest career as a prosecutor with a spectacular failure.

The same thing is happens with police "experts" on these shows. Because they are recorded in Washington, they use a lot of ex-policemen who worked in the city. But the DC police department has a lousy record when it comes to solving crimes. In 2002 they "cleared" less than half of the homicides (48.5%). The NYPD clears around 75% of their cases.

Apparently, what matters to television (even Fox News) is celebrity and availability. Competence is optional.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Bloggers Choose Greatest Americans

Rightwing News asked a group of bloggers to pick the 20 greatest Americans and has published the results.

I have to say that i disagree with most of it. Reagan tied for first with Lincoln with Washington coming in third? I have admired Reagan for a long time (going back to his race in 1976), but come on. Washington was both a successful general and our first president. Twice he relinquished power when popular support would have let him retain it for as long as he wished. Very few great men have done this even once.

No way Patton was greater than George Marshall or U.S. Grant. Heck, his impact on the outcome of WWII was considerably less than that of Chester Nimitz.

Bring Back the Urban Visionaries

OK, so it is eight years old. I still think this is an interesting article. Not everything has to be in reaction to today's headlines.

In 1940 you could catch an express train from New Haven to Grand Central that got you there in 90 minutes. Today there is no express, and the trip takes an hour and 41 minutes on Metro-North. Why have we made no progress in 50 years? Because people no longer care to travel from New Haven to Manhattan? Because our time is no longer valuable, because we no longer understand technology and engineering, because 1940's society was richer than ours, because modern cars and highways have made rail commuting obsolete? Because 90 minutes is the shortest time consistent with the speed of light?

Well, no. The real problem is that today's technology visionaries know little and care less about the mundane problems of daily urban life.
We Love the 80s

This post absolutely nails the problems with VH1 look back at the 80s. Permanent Snide is most unbecoming

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The Other Pornography

Cut on the Bias points out this article from Slate on a new documentary about the highway safety films of the 50s and 60s. Unlike Susanna, I actually saw some of these in high school.

Our drivers-ed teacher called them “prom movies”. We saw them in drivers ed, health, or gym class a week or so before prom. The idea was to scare us into being safe, sober drivers on a night when our inclination was to be quite the opposite. The shocking footage was deemed necessary to cut through our adolescent sense of omnipotence and invulnerability.

Almost thirty years later I can still recall some of the footage.

Daniel Edelstein believes that there is a pornographic element to these films:

Whatever the filmmakers’ intentions, this was pornography then, and its liberal use in the documentary—which features stomach-turning shots of a dead baby under a car—makes it feel like pornography now.

Susanna disagrees:

Edelstein seems to think that pornography is about exploitation, which I think it is, but he doesn't mention the sexual element that I think is integral to calling it pornography. I'm sure there are people who do get off on it, there's people who get off on everything. I don't know what else I would call it

I find myself in agreement with Edelstein. If we choose to limit pornography to sex, then we need a word for the obscene exploitation of death.

Tom Wolfe wrote an essay years ago on “pornviolence”. One of his key observations was that the intense interest in the Zapruder film ha nothing to do with unanswered questions about what really happened in Dallas in 1963. Rather, people wanted to see the home movie because it showed a man’s head exploding from a real gun shot.

This sort of thing is not a relic of the 60s. Now this porn violence is on display every night of the week on TV and in thousands of book store across the country.

It is bad enough on CSI or Crossing Jordan. I don’t see the need to “show” the face of a decomposed body or a bag of stomach contents. But these shows are fiction and it is merely gross.

It is the nonfiction programs on cable (like Forensic Files or American Justice) and books that are really offensive. A university press recently published a serious book on Eliot Ness and his hunt for a serial killer in Cleveland. This “respectable” publisher chose to decorate the cover with the photo of a severed head of one of the victims.

For one thing, these photos appeal to the prurient interests of the worst kind of perverts. I see no need to provide them with their sick thrill when the pictures add no meaningful information. It is not as though the pictures show a vital clue; if the photograph wasn't there the story would still be understandable.

Second, the killer treated his victim like a garbage. A life is snuffed out and a corpse is left. The killer’s ego steals a life and the aftermath robs a person’s memory of the dignity we all deserve. None of us wants to be left on the side of the road like an empty McDonald’s bag. Crime scene photos are necessary for the police, but to broadcast them is to share in the killer’s indifference towards the victim’s life and dignity. There is an unthinking complicity in the selfishness that produced the ultimate evil.

Worst of all, some killers “pose” the bodies of their victims. Their goal is to humiliate the victim after death or to send a message to society. To broadcast or print photographs of their “work” in the reckless quest for ratings and sensation is to aid the killers in their demonic evil.

As for conventional pornography, this author makes a good case for racheting down our tacit approval of porn from a libertarian perspective.

Both the God of the Machine and Outside the Beltway have additional thoughts.

Not much for me to debate in either post. They both present thoughtful, sober analyses of the type we need more of (and could really have used 1996-2001). Neither of them are the sort of "infantile utopians" that were my original target.

As for Wolfe's dismissal of the technology, the essay dates from the hype and bubble era. So i cut him some slack-- his rhetorical excess was necessary to cut through the "digibabble" that received more acceptance than it deserved.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Interesting Point

Julie over at Lone Prairie writes

I've noticed that the posts of mine that are my original content (i.e. what's happening here, local news covered only by moi, etc.) get less linkage/comment than the posts where I do a rant on some newspaper article, or some political topic, or maybe a movie get the idea.

Like most of my blogroll, she is in flyover country (North Dakota). Her local posts discuss different issues than the usual blogfare of "the Times sucks" or "Bush is dumb". Moreover, they often provide new information instead of just commentary. But for some reason, that doesn't drive links or traffic.

Aaron, over at God of the Machine, notes the Tom Wolfe quote below and then asks:

Well OK. All the Internet does is "speed up the retrieval and dissemination of information." And this distinguishes it from the telephone, telegraph, and printing press — how, exactly?

I won't speak for Mr. Wolfe, but... the Internet seems is less important than the printing press. So much that flowed from movable type and cheap paper-- books, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets-- was new. Websites and blogs just seem like a continuation of some of these innovations.

On the other hand, the Internet is probably as important as the telegraph or telephone. They are also similar in that they represent improvements in the speed and ease of long-distance communication. But that is evidence that the Internet is not unprecedented or revolutionary as some boosters claimed. And returning to Brad DeLong's point, it suggests that technological advances do not automatically create business or social utopias. The telegraph's effect on government and business were varied. The Internet's effects will probably be the same mixed bag.
Yes, Kill all the lawyers

The trial lawyers are now trying to sue drug companies for developing BETTER drugs. They have no shame and we are sheep for tolerating their antics.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Bill James

The New Yorker has an article on Bill James and his work for the Red Sox in their July 14/21 issues. Unfortunately, it is not available online.

Couple of good bits:

Norman Mailer and screenwriter William Goldman were two of the 75 people who purchased the first edition of his Baseball Abstract.

"He is a self-described 'scientist', who frequently reveals little concern for precision, a relentless counter who can't be bothered with individual sums."

"He has long been revered by rationalists for promoting the virtues of objective analysis, and yet, after an extended hibernation from writing about contemporary baseball-- during the nineties he focussed mainly on the history of the game-- he reemerged on the statistical scene with a new metric to define the over-all contribution of each player, whose formula has a built-in 'subjective element,' allowing him to adjust the numbers more or less as he pleases."
Always worth a look

a gaggle of girls (and one guy)

right we are

eve tushnet

stuart buck

Saturday, July 12, 2003

What an Honor!

I've been recognized for "florid prose" and "prosaic punditry" in the same post.

Friday, July 11, 2003

More Joe McCarthy

Sometimes brilliant men have so many ideas that they don't pursue all the intriguing avenues of investigation. One example is this from Robert Conquest in Reflections on a Ravaged Century:

The United States, though not Western Europe, had the McCarthy experience. (Russians have seriously suggested to me that he was a Soviet agent-- he had had Communist help in his own election in Wisconsin!) At any rate, he disgraced anti-Communism in the eyes of many, by wild or false accusations.

Not to go all conspiracy-minded, but Joe had Communist help getting elected? If true, (Conquest is a serious and careful historian so i tend to believe him), it raises all sorts of questions in my mind. And we are left with the fact that he was an abysmal failure as a red hunter despite the fact that there were plenty of reds to hunt. See also here.


A liberal tolerant type is having "Strom Thurmond is Finally Dead Sale." Backcountry Conservative has the details here.
What is the Internet Good For

Hell in a Handbasket has a good post on this. He too is a technoskeptic.

On this issue Tom Wolfe is in our camp and he is always worth having on your side:

I hate to be the one who brings this news to the tribe, to the magic Digikingdon, but the simple truth is that the Web, the Internet, does one thing. It speeds up the retrieval and dissemination of information, partially eliminating such chores as going outdoors to the mailbox or the adult bookstore, or having to pick up the phone to get hold of your stockbroker or some buddies to shoot the breeze with. That one thing the Internet does and only that. All the rest is Digibabble.

Hooking Up, page 76.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Dixie Chicks Again

Cut on the Bias discusses the Natalie Manes's appearance before a senate hearing where she played the victim. By her telling, it wasn't the fans who created the backlash against the Chicks. No, it was an evil media corporation.

Why does she keep stirring the pot?

The Chicks say they want to put the controversy behind them. Yet, every time the flames dies down, it is the Chicks who fan it back to life. It was Natalie, not an evil media company, that picked the fight with Toby Keith and continued it at an awards show. Now, it is Natalie Manes trying to reignite it by playing the victim for Barbara Boxer.

Given the strong feelings among country music fans, a radio station would have been nuts to keep playing them during the controversy. Radio is a tough business where stations fight for small gains in marketshare. Playing the Chicks was a sure way to lose listeners, so, of course, stations were going to drop them.

The divide between the Chicks and Toby (who i like only half the time), highlights a fault line in the country at large after 9-11. Col. Jeff Cooper put it best: what happened wasn't a "tragedy" , it was an "atrocity." This distinction is important because, as he noted, the proper reaction to a tragedy is sadness, but for an atrocity it is rage.

Our media elites (executives and most artists) don't want to fan the rage so they declare 9-11 a tragedy. Many of us, in our gut, disagree.

And because they disagree with our gut feelings, they do themselves commercial harm. For example, why did Sean Hannity see the potential in Martina MacBride's Independence Day ("Let Freedom Ring") but her record company did not? If they had re-released it, they could have racked up big sales and radio play.

Similarly, Charlie Daniels's In America was a big hit in the early 80s and struck the right note for a post-911 update and reissue. It wasn't even that jingoistic. Yet the record company chose to pass on those sales.

The post-911 concensus is that we can be sad. If we are angry, our betters in the media want no part of it or us. That is the atitude reflected by the Chicks. For those who agree with Col Cooper, the Chicks and their LA friends are an annoyance and an irritant.
Thank You

Thanks to Rob at businesspundit i found this collection of party platforms dating back to the nineteenth century.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Rise of the Creative Class

Richard Florida, a Carnegie Mellon professor, caused quite a stir a few years ago when he published The Rise of the Creative Class in which he argued that the key to economic development was creative types to your city. That meant you had to be cool, tolerant, decidedly non-suburban and non-bourgeois. The thesis seemed plausible during the dot-com boom/bubble. Hip urban centers like San Francisco, Manhattan, and Denver were filled with prosperous young singles who worked for start-ups.

This article by Joel Kotkin disputes Florida's theory. Obviously the bursting of the bubble helps kotkin's case. But he also shows that even in 1999 Florida misinterpreted critical data. For example, San Francisco is liberal and bohemian and near Silicon Valley. But San Francisco was never the "heart" of the technology industry and it is not clear that the social climate of the city had much to do with the business success of companies headquartered far down the road in San Jose.

Florida's hypothesis is a perfect example of of the infantile utopianism that helped fuel the dot-com bubble. Such writing (Fast Company used to be filled with this dreck) takes a quick snapshot of a company or industry. Then it points to a couple of interesting phenomena, pronounces them key trends, utters the magic words-- "transformation, technology, revolution, digital"-- and proclaims a beautiful future. Serious history and critical analysis are ignored.

A constant undercurrent of business journalism in the late 90s was the belief that digital technology would somehow upset the social-economic status quo. The future belonged to the pierced, tattooed web designer with his shaved head and Rage Against the Machine t-shirt. Somehow, the old guard would be swept aside by 27 year old CEOs running start-ups that were cool and socially responsible.

Randall Rothenberg of Ad Age pointed out as the bubble burst in 2000 that a lot of the net-hype owed a debt to the Port Huron Statement of 1962. The chip and browser would help Gen X do what the boomers failed to do with marches and manifestoes. That is why journalists devote so much attention to Steve Jobs when there are a dozen CEOs in Silicon Valley who have accomplished more. Jobs is hip, liberal, and a self-proclaimed revolutionary. How can Andy Grove compete? All he did was beat the world in a tough industry-- he never dated Joan Baez. And who cares if Apple is really nothing more than an also-ran in PCs. Steve Jobs knows Bill Clinton.

In the 1960s America put a man on the moon. The people responsible were not tie-died hippies or socially engaged Ivy Leaguers. It was a bunch of guys in white short-sleeved shirts who carried slide rules instead of protest signs. As someone said at Mission Control when Neil Armstrong took his first lunar steps--"this is the triumph of the squares."

If Richard Flordia could have been bothered to do research before generalizing he might have read some of the works of Michael Malone on Silicon Valley. Malone is a native of the Valley and knows its history. And in his work the same point comes through-- the technology industry was fueled by engineers who were more Midwestern than bohemian. The most important company-- Hewlett Packard-- was anything but hip.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Coulter, Rabinowitz, and McCarthy

I don't doubt that Ann Coulter went too far defending Sen. Joe McCarthy in Treason and fails to make the case for his enshrinement as a hero. That would be par for the course for her-- she ultimately stretches her evidence farther than is reasonable and engages in rhetorical overkill. That track record is why i have no intention of buying Treason: her desire to be bold and provocative always overwhelms her good sense and intellect.

Nonetheless, I agree with Kevin Holtsberry that Dorothy Rabinowitz's review in Opinion Journal does not address the substance of Coulter's book or the merits of a revisionist assessment of the Senator:

In fact, her slam on Coulter is really just righteous anger at the concept that someone might attempt to defend McCarthy. She does not so much prove that McCarthy really was a monster as assert the fact and act shocked that Coulter would not realize this.

Holtsberry is also correct when he suggests that " McCarthy is more of a cultural indicator than a political one." Which also might explain the phenomenon which puzzles Rabinowitz

It is worth remembering that during that bleak political time the universities, faculties and students understood the threat McCarthyism posed to intellectual freedom--and, dismal to note today, that the universities which were once hotbeds of opposition to McCarthy are now little worlds of their own, where political censorship, speech codes and other ideologically driven assaults on freedom are the accepted order of things.

Perhaps the intellectuals who led the charge against McCarthy were interested less in intellectual freedom and more in defending themselves and the privileged position of intellectuals in general. The question, for some, was self-preservation: they had a pro-Stalin past that they wished to bury. For others, the problem was defending intellectuals against the democratic mob. The elite might engage in character assassination inside the ivy walls of academe and on the pages of their journals; that was okay. It was critical, however, that the mob not strike at their betters.

Note as well that the techniques of McCarthy never went out of style. Congressmen still hold public hearings to gin up publicity, unpopular public figures still get pilloried to advance political careers, the press is more than willing to print leaked information and calculated rumors. McCarthy did not invent this sort of thing and the anti-McCarthy crowd did not stop using them (just ask Ken Lay or Ken Starr).

I think the most interesting question about McCarthy is this: how did he mess up so badly in a target-rich environment? We now know that Stalin had agents and friends all though the government. They ranged from high ranking officials to small fry. Yet, McCarthy failed spectacularly in his investigations. Maybe he was not serious. Maybe he was misled. But neither he nor Roy Cohn were stupid men. Their failure is one of those intriguing mysteries hidden in the morality play of conventional history.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Religious Belief in American

This from a Harris Poll last winter:

90 % believe in God

84% believe in miracles

80% believe in the resurrection of Christ

77% believe in the Virgin birth (Jesus born of Mary)

Surprisingly high numbers for a western, multicultural nation.
I want on this blogroll

armavirumque is the weblog of the New Criterion. Since the New Criterion is one of those publications i shell out money to subscribe to, it is no surprise that i like the weblog.

But the real reason i want on the blog roll is that they alphabetize it. Check it out-- if i can figure out a way to get on it, old lead and gold will sit snugly between Kaus and Lileks. That is like being the sitcom scheduled for Thursday night at 9.30, after Seinfeld and before ER.

there must be a way........ponder..... ponder..... ponder.....
why we shoot

A great explanation of the various types of gun owners/shooters over at Hell in a Handbasket.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Just Wondering

If religious and moral views are not an acceptable basis for making laws, then is there any way to outlaw dogfighting, bullfighting, or cockfighting?

There is no injury to another person. If the bull is properly paid for there is no theft of property. Other cultures enjoy the sports so it is not innately repugnant to mankind. Morally, i think inflicting intentional cruelty for sport is wrong. But why would those views be OK if written into law, but not my views on abortion or gay marriage?


A good blog for a good cause
I Guess 9-11-01 Didn't Change Some Things

Painting depicts Giuliani near dung

NEW YORK -- Four years ago, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani blasted the Brooklyn Museum of Art for hanging a painting of the Virgin Mary that was decorated with elephant dung.

An exhibit that opened at the Whitney this week strikes back - with a portrait of Giuliani that has elephant dung painted on it.

Found thanks to Right-Thinking who is sure to have the most energetic comments thread on the matter

Thursday, July 03, 2003

A Big Reason for Limbaugh's Success

This is a terrific post on liberal talk radio and the reasons for Rush's success.

The main competition for liberal talk radio isn't conservative talk radio-- it is all the other liberal media outlets from NPR to ABC to CNN. Liberals have many sources of news and commentary that confirms their worldview. Conservatives had almost nothing before Rush.

Limbaugh took off like a rocket because he was a talented radio guy who went after a large, under-served market. For many conservatives there was something electric about hearing an unapologetic right-winger review the news of the day. That gave him a special type of first mover advantage and strong claim on listener loyalty.

Chesterton captured those listeners's feelings in The Man Who Was Thursday:

Through all this ordeal his root horror had been isolation, and there are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.


Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Technology and Progress

Via Business Pundit, i found this article by Brad DeLong.

Still, there is a strong sense that computers are less of an asset to the economy than they might be if we truly knew what they were good for and how to use them.

DeLong also notes that:

New general-purpose technologies work well only if they are the base of a system, or form a cluster of reinforcing and self-sustaining changes in the way work is organized.

New technology does not automatically produce immediate progress. The best example of that i know is World War One. The combination of new weapons (tanks, machine guns, planes, quick-firing artillery, etc.) and old ways of thinking produced the stalemate and slaughter of 1914-1918. The German victories of 1939-41 owed little to superior technology and a great deal to superior training and doctrine. (See here)

Note as well, that the inventors of a technology are not always the ones who figure out how best to use it. The British invented the tank, the Germans developed the blitzkrieg.
Another Suburban Jihadi

Midwest Conservative Journal has the story and a good analysis here.
Big East/ ACC

This about sums it up.

If this episode has illustrated anything, it is that the NCAA is a weird sort of paper tiger. On the one hand, it hands down stiff penalties to players and coaches who disobey its rules. On the other, it can't police its own member schools from acting like corporate robber barons.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Making Heroes out of Traitors

Here is a good article on the BBC series Cambridge Spies (Philby, et. al.). As the author makes clear, the drama paints these traitors in a surprisingly favorable light.

Apparently the rule is, never say anything nice about a former Dixiecrat if you want to remain in polite society. However, you can work as hard as you want to polish the memory of men who betrayed their country on behalf of Stalin. And the BBC will fund it and put it on TV. (I expect PBS won't be far behnd).
Maybe you can't find everything on the Internet

I've been googling around looking for the text of the Democratic Platform from 1948. So far, no luck.