Sunday, November 05, 2006

Election Eve Reading Round-Up

Once more around the blogs:

• Scott Horton puts on his medium hat, and Kant Critiques Bush:
Kant welcomes the political moralist, but he warns us ardently of the moralizing politician... How can we identify the wolf in sheep's clothing who presents himself on the public stage as a man of morals but in fact is morally corrupt? There is, writes Kant, a three-part test that gives us an unfailing peek at the political scoundrel. First, does he seek every opportunity to assert the right of the state he controls over its own people and over other peoples?... Second, does he accept the principle of accountability for his own misdeeds – or does he in fact try to pass off to others every mistake that occurs?... Third, does he rule through the sowing of discord and division? After coming to power, does he identify other potential rivals to power and attack them or set them to battle, one against the other? ... But in its entire history, America has had only one leader who clearly passes Kant's three-point test to detect the political scoundrel. His name is George W Bush. Is it even necessary to rehearse the test?

• And from the same blog, Jack Balkin talks about Ted Haggard:
Many progressives have never quite understood why the most vehement religious opponents of homosexuality view it as such a threat. I myself have always assumed that it is because religious opponents are devoted to the preservation of traditional gender roles, which sustain a male/female hierarchy. But the Ted Haggard story suggests a different reason-- at least for that segment of religious opponents who, like a significant proportion of the population generally, share same-sex or bisexual orientations and desires. Viewed from Ted Haggard's perspective-- a man who, despite his shame and guilt, is attracted to other men-- gay marriage and the gay lifestyle really are a threat to heterosexual relationships and heterosexual marriage. That is because they are a threat to his heterosexual identity and his heterosexual marriage. He knows the Devil is always tracking him, waiting for him to slip up. That is because he conceptualizes his sexual desires as sin and as alienation from God, and not as the expressions of something that might actually become valuable to him if accepted them as part of himself.

Jim Henley reacts to the Saddam verdict:
When I say the Dujail case is “bullshit” I’m not saying that the crime itself was no crime. It was a mass reprisal based on evidence collected under torture with little in the way of a fair chance for the accused to exonerate themselves, a punishment designed as much to terrify onlookers as bring justice to the guilty. All bad stuff. No matter who does it. We are already doing some of the kind of thing ourselves. Too many people in this country want us to do more of it.

• A lot of people are talking about this just-released government study from 1999 estimating that 400,000 troops would be necessary to secure Iraq -- approximately three times as many as we've ever had there. The key fact is simply in that headline, but a good overview of the rest is this one by Jim Macdonald at Making Light, although he leaves out what Matt Yglesias reasonably calls the most interesting conclusion of the study, that "we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground" (emphasis added).

This was always a disaster in the making -- and they either knew, or damn well should have known.

• ...but since, along with the administration, the neocons ignored this fact, they are now trying desperately to salvage something of their justifiably-ruined reputations. Everyone's blogging this one too, but a good basic take is Kevin Drum's suggestion that "This is one rehabilitation project that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks." Meanwhile Glenn Greenwald focuses on Michael Leden's lies in reaction to the piece; Shakespeare's Sister offers snark; and Scott Lemieux notices the misogyny.

Too much outrage to talk about! A mini-round-up within the round-up:
* Army recruiters are telling kids that the Iraq war is over and they won't be sent there.
* Being tortured by America disqualifies you from having a trial, because the torture methods used are state secrets & in a trial you might mention 'em.
* Government permission will soon be needed for any overseas travel. (More here.)

And finally, because I imagine that we could all use some humor today, two funny and totally apolitical items:

Rabbi Jack Moline watches Abbot and Costello Learn Hebrew (via):

ABBOTT: Fine. Let’s start with mee.
ABBOTT: No, mee.
COSTELLO: Fine, we’ll start with you.
ABBOTT: No, we’ll start with mee.
COSTELLO: Okay, have it your way.
ABBOTT: Now, mee is who.
COSTELLO: You is Abbott.
ABBOTT: No, no, no. Mee is who.
COSTELLO: You is Abbott.
ABBOTT: You don’t understand.
COSTELLO: I don’t understand? Did you just say me is who?
ABBOTT: Yes I did. Mee is who.
COSTELLO: You is Abbott.
Whether or not you do for any of the others (which I recommend in each and every case), you'll definitely want to read the whole thing this time, eh?

• And a scientific study with statistical evidence on the non-existence of vampires:
In short, the authors conclude, it would take surprisingly little time for vampires to rule the earth:
[chart showing complete vampirization of the Earth in c. 30 months omitted]
Relying on the anthropic principle -- which declares that any condition essential for human existence must indeed be true -- the authors conclude that because the non-existence of vampires is necessary for human survival, vampires cannot in fact be real.
I grant you that the assumptions of the study omit the well-known fact that, rather than turn humans into vampires, "mostly, they're just going to kill you"; but nevertheless, this is a study worth careful consideration.

I'll probably add more quotes & links as the day goes on. (Update: Yep.)

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