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I'm going to be on the Sean Hannity radio show with Scott Johnson of Powerline talking about Bush's big Iraq speech at around 4:10 to 4:15 PM this afternoon. Readers will doubtless be shocked to learn that I'm not a regular Hannity listener, so I have no idea what station that might be in your local area. Also -- no Hannity! -- it's a guest host.

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (99) | TrackBack

Conquering by Dividing

This week's column for TAP Online is a bit complicated but argues for the following points:

  • Karl Rove's "liberals love terrorists" speech was not a gaffe, but a deliberate political strategy.
  • It will probably be successful as domestic politics.
  • Deploying this sort of divisiveness as a political ploy is bad for the country.
  • This is all very typical of the Bush administration, with talk of a Bolton recess appointment just the latest example.
Left unanswered is whether the strategy of polarization was an instrumentally rational response to 9/11 in the first place. Having chosen that strategy, Rove and Bush have no real choice but to keep doing it, and they've been doing it well for the past couple of weeks. Crudely speaking, the fact that Bush got re-elected proves that his political operation is pretty smart. My strong suspicion, however, is that it was a mistake and that a more unifying approach could have let Bush coast to re-election while simultaneously accomplishing more for substantive conservatism (though less for business lobbyists).

June 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (127) | TrackBack


Susan writes this up like she's joking, but it's strange yet true, our neighborhood is now infested by a smallish posse of disabled gangstas prowling the streets on motorized wheelchairs. It's not really what one would expect. Elsewhere in the world of things that suck, my computer developed a problem that had nothing whatsoever to do with my hard drive. Naturally enough, when the good people at Apple repaired it they erased my entire hard drive. But that's the kind of bullshit you expect. What you don't expect is that when they re-installed the system software, they downgraded me to OS 10.3 -- that shit I don't need.

June 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (64) | TrackBack

The Two Blogospheres

One interesting subject I hadn't really given much thought to until I got a question about it at the NAHJ panel in Texas is the contrasting cultural norms of the liberal and conservative (or, perhaps more accurately, the hawkish and dovish) blogospheres. There are a lot of aspects of this and, interestingly, I think we're close enough to the origins that we can identify specific causes:

  • Liberal sites are more oriented toward comments and community-building than are conservative ones. This seems to have a twofold origin, one being that Atrios enabled comments early on and Glenn Reynolds never did. Then, Markos pioneered the Scoop/community format. Now it's considered bad form on the left to not have a comments section.
  • Semi-paradoxically, the liberal blogosphere is considerably more elitist than is the conservosphere. There's much less self-conscious promotion of small sites by the authors of bigger ones. The origin here, I think, is the difference between Andrew Sullivan (who was much more clearly on the right at the time) and Josh Marshall in the early days. Andrew was a real blog enthusiast/evangelist and Josh wasn't. Since both of them are/were "real" journalists their practices became normative of what a serious enterprise would be like, with Sullivan-emulators seeing promotion of the blogosphere per se as part of their mission while Marshall-emulators sought to stay aloof from the rabble. Then the dawn of dKos and other community-oriented sites have wound up provided an alternative mechanism of inclusion for liberal bloggers and readers.
  • I'm less certain that this is really true, but I think you see different kinds of viciousness from the left and the right. Your rightwingers are much more likely to say something substantively scummy about someone else -- flinging around casual accusations of treason and so forth. Your leftwingers, by contrast, are much more likely to engage in workaday meanness -- name-calling and so forth. This stems, I think, from the stylistic dichotomy between Atrios and Instapundit. Glenn's a really master of the artfully worded slander -- "they're not anti-war, they're on the other side" and so forth -- while Duncan has a much blunter approach -- "InstaHack," etc.
There are other differences, of course, that are more tied to macro-level differences in the worldview of the prosperous, well-educated branch of American conservatism and the prosperous, well-educated branch of American liberalism, but those three are all sociological quirks that I think have fairly micro-level origins that have no become widely entrenched.

June 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (153) | TrackBack

Milk Makes Me Sick!

Justin may mock, but the reality is that these people are on to something, though perhaps not a viable legal claim. Given that lactose intolerance actually seems to affect most of the world's population (a minority of white folks, but most non-whites and non-whites outnumber whites pretty badly) there actually is something a bit odd about the tone and omnipresence of pro-milk propaganda. Now, personally, I think milk is just about the grossest substance on the planet but I love my cheese despite some very mild intolerance.

June 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (85) | TrackBack

Cowboy Hats

So the only people I actually saw wearing cowboy hats in Texas were, on the one hand, members of the Fort Worth Police Department, and, on the other hand, a bunch of Texas business in New York to ring the opening bell on the stock exchange that I saw watching CNN. So is this whole hat thing some kind of scam? Something Texans only do when traveling out of state? Is Fort Worth legendarily hat-averse? If so, why do they make the cops where it?

June 19, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (62) | TrackBack

Neighborhood News

I woke up this morning to find my very own neighborhood -- the eastern end of the U Street Corridor -- profiled in The New York Times. Typically for our era, the focus is pretty remorsely on the yuppie homeowner contingent. You've also got your renters, of course, such as myself, and rent/buy spreads are pretty big and getting bigger, reflecting national trends and the perhaps-not-unreasonable sense that things are headed further up in this area. The neighborhood's not really as fully gentrified as the article might suggest. I live around the corner from the Honarkars, and next door to me is a vacant lot. Across the street is a rickety African-American church, and down the block is what certainly seems to be a crack house. The Chinese restaurant on the corner is decked-out with bulletproof glass and since it opened within the past 12 months you can hardly write it off as a product of bygone times.

Perhaps more troubling, the Times has managed to more-or-less erase from view the non-criminal element of the African-American community, which is odd since despite the influx of new residents they certainly seem to be in the majority. We have a fantastic collection of Ethiopian restaurants on 9th street, Ooohs and Aaahs soul food on 10th, a couple of caribbean joints, various clubs, and basically a lot of people living lives that are centered around neither drug dealing nor real estate speculation.

June 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (33) | TrackBack

More Name Stuff

This really is a fun toy. "Sidney" used to be a popular boys' name, and "Sydney" was a much-less-popular variant. Nowadays, "Sydney" is a popular girls' name, "Sidney" is pretty rare, used by both genders, but predominantly for girls. Some fo the recent Sydney spike can probably be attributed to Alias, but it started emerging before then. The gender-switch is particularly interesting.

June 11, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (41) | TrackBack

Get Over Yourselves

Mac to use Intel chips as you already know. Still, I can't help but be irked by this:

Indeed, Mr. Jobs has always set himself apart from other corporate executives. After all, which other American business executive would have thought to name the holding company for his executive jet airplane "Marmalade Skies"?
Um . . . every other baby boomer in corporate America? Steve Jobs likes the Beatles! He's so edgy! I think it's about time for the generation that runs the world to stop thinking of itself as a bunch of daring rebels. It's your world, guys, the rest of us just live here.

June 11, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Name Game

This Name Voyager thingy sure is cool. It's a graphical display of the popularity of every baby name that's cracked the top 1,000 over the past 100 years, shown over time. Looking up "Matthew" I saw something interesting. The proportion of babies named "Matthew" has decline precipitously since the early 1980s when I was born. It's something like half as frequent as it used to be. Nevertheless, it's only dropped from the third most popular boy's name down to the number four spot. That seems to mean that popular names as a whole are way less popular than they once were. Will a rising tide of non-conformity lift all boats?

June 10, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack