• What a Tool

    I'm no Horowitz fan, but holy hell, I didn't think the guy was this intellectually dishonest. Challenging someone to a written debate, editing their answers down, and then publishing the exchange with comments that you wish your opponent had participated more fully -- when he did and you cut it! -- is a rarely realized peak of argumentative weakness. I guess this is just one more of Horowitz's never-ending contradictions -- to reach this highest point of dishonesty he had to sink lower than we ever thought he could. Why Berube wastes his time on this guy I'll never know.
  • Go Read

    I love this Rude Pundit post . Just perfect.
  • Pop Goes the Ego

    Kinsley : [T]he U.S. presidency is an ego-inflating machine. The president moves in a vast imperial cocoon, unsurpassed in grandeur since the pharaohs. It would take a level of humility incompatible with running for public office in the first place for a president not to think, "Hey, I'm a pretty cool guy." Every time George W. Bush hears "Hail to the Chief," the odds go up that some unsuspecting country is going to find itself getting violently democratized. Truer words were never spoken, and only rarely written. I think we on the left have a tendency to underestimate the importance of a culture of dissent. When the right makes speech into a political football and punts it so hard they emblazon "traitor" onto the pigskin, we run it back on general principle. How dare they? But fashioning a culture that expects criticism of its leaders is more important than the amorphous ideals we appeal to when fighting for it, our leaders need regular lashings just to be kept human. It's a funny...
  • Three Cheers for DeLay!

    Sam Rosenfeld's got a terrific rundown on the eternal frustration of the evangelical voter which argues, basically, that there will be no payback for the GOP footsoldiers, it doesn't poll well. He's right, of course. But I want to hone in on something he says midway through: the atmosphere was suffused with a sense of anger and despair at the way the vast majority of Republicans they helped to put in power -- with the notable exception of a certain House majority leader locked in an existential bid to keep his career alive -- inevitably betray or ignore the religious conservative cause. And that right there explains why Tom DeLay won't go quietly into the sweet night. The Bugman has been a pretty silent actor over the years, essentially unseen and unheard to those of us in C-SPAN land. That's because we were never his audience. DeLay's spent his time among the conservative base -- the fringe conservative base -- cultivating and schmoozing and fundraising for power. Because DeLay's...
  • Couldn't Resist

    I think I speak on behalf of all lefty bloggers when I congratulate Ed Kilgore for his courageous stand against slavery. Bravo! More seriously, most of us smug blue-staters would probably be shocked to meet the hordes of Southerners who still think the Confederate cause was Good and Just and True. And it's not all hicks with gun racks; when I was working at the Dean campaign, one of my coworkers was obsessed with his Texan heritage and absolutely unyielding (and incessant) in his defense of the Confederacy. Even when no one was attacking it. The remarkable inferiority complex some Southerners tote around is really unexplainable to those who haven't run afoul of it. To this day I don't understand how it works, and I spent a Summer hashing it out in a Vermont flop house. So while Kilgore's impassioned attack on slave-holders movement surely strikes some of us as a lecture on the stunning roundness of the earth, there are a surprising number who haven't heard the lesson. I just don't...
  • A True Liberal Party

    Read this in the Galbraith book and found it a remarkable example of "what might have been". You hardly need my commentary on it, the power of what this party could have meant is obvious on its own: Supremely adept at maneuvering, and aware that he was actually trailing in the polls, Roosevelt privately took a new tack. His frustration with conservatives in his own party by then was at the boiling point, and he resolved on an unprecedented strategy to be rid of them. He decided to approach Wendell Willkie -- the republican he'd defeated four years earlier -- to see whether together they could create a new liberal party made uo oif progressive Democrats and Republicans and shorn of the antediluvian elements in the South. "We ought to have two real parties," FDR told his aide Samuel Rosenman, "one liberal and the other conservative." When Rosenman, on FDR's instructions, broached the idea to Willkie at a secret meeting in New York, the Republican responded instantly. "You tell the...
  • I Am An Uncultured Boor

    Apropos of my book meme completion below, I must admit to being a fraud. I am frankly unfit to be responding to that survey. I wish it weren't true, and every few months I resolve to make it less true, but that doesn't change the basic honesty of the claim. I'm a bad book-reader. Non-fiction, sadly, has basically taken over my life. I've got a list of unread, fantastically fascinating books that's grown to two bookshelves long. I've got 10+ books in various stages of doneness now. And because I'm constantly being confronted with how much I don't know on this-or-that topic, I'm perennially playing infojunkie catch-up. Jeff Bezos sends me Christmas cards. The result, unfortunately, has been an almost complete abandonment of fiction. Not only haven't I read the canonical greats, but I've no authority on the contemporary stuff either. It's not that I don't want to, or that I don't enjoy it, but my non-fiction obsession leaves me no time to inject anything that lacks direct relevance to my...
  • Book Meme

    So Digby's tagged me on the book-meme thingie. Off we go: You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be [saved]? Since so many other folks have saved the Big Important Pieces of Serious Literature, I'm going with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. It all comes in one binding, so I think that's fair. And to lose Douglas Adams' literary contribution would break my fool heart. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? I constantly have crushes on fictional characters. Just don't tell my girlfriend. The last book you bought is? Kinda did a spree at Barnes and Nobles yesterday, and picked up Norman Mailer's The Fight , Paul Roberts' The End of Oil , and Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time . I'd easily recommend the Mailer and the Roberts, but skip Nelson. I thought I was getting a smart and fun meditation on being a read-a-holic, but what I really picked up was a mostly banal trip through her opinions on reading. Did you know books can make...
  • Well Put

    Your must-read of the day, courtesy of Democracy Arsenal: Top 10 Myths Progressives Need to Let Go Of to Regain the Upper Hand on Foreign Policy.
  • Myth-Busting

    Over at Dymaxion World, John has written an excellent rejoinder to "The Long Emergency", the Rolling Stone excerpt on the apocalyptic world an oil crash is about to bring. The oil crisis is bad enough without going into full on scare mode, so I highly suggest you read John's more balanced portrayal . For what it's worth, I've been looking into these things pretty heavily lately, and John's view strikes me as closer to the truth, but I'm still no expert, so take my recommendations with the proverbial grain of salt. So long as I'm linking to excellent piece, go read Matthew Holt's myth-busting comparison of the Canadian and American health care systems. Great stuff.