Archive for October, 2004
From Slate’s Today’s Papers, penned today by David Samo:
The WP also fronts a piece that claims the election will “amount to a great national Rorschach test” where voters will choose their leader based on whose psychological profile they prefer. In troubled times, do they value Kerry’s discerning and nuanced approach to complex problems or Bush’s forceful and unwavering conviction? Or as pundit David Gergen puts it, do people want “fact-based [or] intuition-based policies”? The LAT also points to Bush’s hedgehog mentality (vs. Kerry’s fox) as the dominant factor in the electorate’s bitter polarization.
Wait, isn’t that just a choice between good policy and bad policy? Who says, “Yeah man, I love intuition-based policy”? Ohhh, wait, I know: People for whom “intuition” is a code-word for “faith.” Rats.
I was just talking with Aaron the other day about how intractable this big secular/religious divide seems. If somebody is basing their voting decision on, say, a belief in the rapidly-approaching end times (Rapture-based policy?) how do you engage with that?
I’m not saying, “religious people are scary”; I mean, come on, give me some credit here. I’m just asking, if religion is the animating force behind someone’s policy preferences, how can I even hope to deliberate with her? (Or she, for that matter, with me?)
In other news, I find this “fox vs. hedgehog” thing to be the lamest and least informative analogy ever.
But bring on the election! Foxes 4-eva!
Usually when a magazine asks a rhetorical question on the cover, it doesn’t immediately answer it in 160-point type on the first page of the corresponding article.
Very nice, National Geographic.
So Election Day is just around the corner. We’ll* march to our polling places and make our voices heard.
*For all values of we where you ≠ disenfranchised
And then we’ll turn on the TV to see what happens!
So… here’s the question… which network should I watch?
I ain’t gonna do the clickmaster-exxxtreme channel-surfing thing. I just can’t handle it. I want to pick one channel at 8 p.m. and leave it locked in ’til
midnight 4 a.m. (I will of course be scouring the internet like a hellion at the same time. But that’s a different issue.)
So which do you recommend, Snarkreaders at large? I’m seriously looking for suggestions here; I have no established preference.
Last week’s PIPA survey has gotten quite a bit of play in the press. In short, red and blue America live in different worlds. Red America (that is, over three-fourths of President Bush’s supporters in this election) sees a world where Saddam Hussein was the shadowy figure behind al Qaeda and 9/11, where somewhere in the crannies of Tikrit there sits a yet-undiscovered stash of weapons of mass destruction, and where most of the world cheers our efforts in Iraq. Blue America believes the opposite on all counts.
When it comes to what people believe about their candidates, majorities of the President’s supporters misperceive his foreign policy positions, while majorities of Kerry’s supporters perceive his positions accurately, weeks before an election where foreign policy is supposedly the biggest issue on the table.
But the survey respondents who give me the most hope for democracy are the 18-Percenters. Eighteen percent of Bush supporters still believe Iraq had WMD or a major WMD program even though they know that the Duelfer report concluded otherwise.
Hans Blix. David Kay. The Senate Intelligence Committee. Charles Duelfer. Either invisible to faith-based America, or simply wrong.
So this is what it comes down to. We march to the polls a week from today armed with completely different truths, answering completely different realities. How are we supposed to build a democracy together? And what could possibly be done about this divide?
I’ll join the chorus of handwringing on the Internet for the lack of an online version of David Owen’s article in last week’s New Yorker. I could write about it, but Tim’s already done that quite well enough for the both of us. So I’ll go the crowd one better, and reproduce a few paragraphs for your pleasure and edification:
Most Americans, including most New Yorkers, think of New York City as an ecological nightmare, a wasteland of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams, but in comparison with the rest of America it’s a model of environmental responsibility. By the most significant measures, New York is the greenest community in the United States, and one of the greenest cities in the world. The most devastating damage humans have done to the environment has arisen from the heedless burning of fossil fuels, a category in which New Yorkers are practically prehistoric. The average Manhattanite consumes gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn’t matched since the mid-nineteen-twenties, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. Eighty-two per cent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot. That’s ten times the rate for Americans in general, and eight times the rate for residents of Los Angeles County. New York City is more populous than all but eleven states; if it were granted statehood, it would rank fifty-first in per-capita energy use.
“Anyplace that has such tall buildings and heavy traffic is obviously an environmental disaster
From Slate’s “Today’s Papers” this morning:
The Washington Post leads with the lack of any hard evidence that, as previously feared, terrorists are plotting an attack around Election Day. The New York Times leads with Ohio GOP officials dispatching 3,600 recruits to polling places–many in “heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods”–to challenge voters they suspect to be ineligible. Somewhat peculiarly, the Los Angeles Times leads with the Mongolia government’s initiative to give surnames to its citizens, who have long used only their first names.
Yo, I think you mean “somewhat awesomely”! Check this ouuut!
ULAN BATOR, Mongolia
I really like what’s going on with these ads: Errol Morris is trying to connect with lots of different kinds of people using voices that they recognize.
We’re pluralistic and diverse, yeah — but we also really like people who are like us.
I mean, that’s why I’m such a sucker for arguments in policy mags and on certain blogs: I go, Heyyy, these guys are nerdy like me… they dig the economics… okay, this sounds good. Sometimes I like to think it’s because, you know, they’re the best, strongest arguments — but nah. They’re just in many ways the most comfortable*.
*Actually I do think they’re the best and strongest. But that’s only because I am perfectly and uniquely discerning.
Politics is probably more social than analytical — but that doesn’t mean analytical arguments can’t be part of the process. You’ve just got to find the right social vector to deliver them!
Anyway, apparently no one is running the ads. Oh well.
The New York Times has yet another excellent article on the genocide–but what difference does it make? We are participating in the world’s first post-modern genocide–where the whole world watches, argues over details of coverage, and takes no action. This has been going on for 18 months in Darfur, and a decade or more in southern Sudan.
If you haven’t seen this blog before, now’s the time to tune in. It’s sort’ve freakishly good and deep and complete. A bummer that it’s penned anonymously, but oh well. Check it out.
I’m not even that much of a baseball fan, but if you’re not into this you have no soul: Down three games to zip in the American League championship, the Red Sox rallied back against the Yankees, and now the series is tied.
The final game is tonight.
This would be amazing no matter which teams it involved. But Red Sox vs. Yankees is extra-epic because of the Curse of the Bambino.
Also, Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was bleeding at the ankle as he pitched Game 6.
Everybody knows blood gives you +10 mythic points.
So come, join the West as we marvel to Game 7 at 8 p.m. EST. Bask in the drama over at Diary of a Red Sox Fan. This is straight-up elves vs. orcs.
The Chicago Tribune editorial board, a smart group for sure, endorsed George W. Bush for president.
Near the beginning, there’s a quote from John McCain:
So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation, to our rendezvous with destiny. […]
And that pretty much sets the tone. This is how they wrap it up:
This country’s paramount issue, though, remains the threat to its national security.
For three years, Bush has kept Americans, and their government, focused–effectively–on this nation’s security. The experience, dating from Sept. 11, 2001, has readied him for the next four years, a period that could prove as pivotal in this nation’s history as were the four years of World War II.
That demonstrated ability, and that crucible of experience, argue for the re-election of President George W. Bush. He has the steadfastness, and the strength, to execute the one mission no American generation has ever failed.
Okay, this is not an unfamiliar sentiment. It’s Bush’s whole call to arms, right? I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not th–oh wait, no, that’s Aragorn.
Yeah, see, that’s the problem: This is earth, not Middle Earth.
Can the Tribune be serious? “[A]s pivotal in this nation’s history as were the four years of World War II”?
Here’s the thing: They want to believe that. I think a lot of people do. It’s something that Chris Hedges argues very convincingly in his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, which is about–well, yeah. (P.S. I interviewed Hedges for Poynter.org.)
He says: The notion of a martial struggles ennobles us. It suffuses us with grim righteousness. It’s mythic and meaningful.
But in this case, it’s also total bullshit!
Why isn’t dealing with the Sauron of Social Security ever our rendezvous with destiny? Why can’t the struggle against global poverty be the test of our generation?
Oh, right, because those challenges don’t involve killing
orcs terrorists. Seriously! We’re nuts like that!
Now I’m sure Robert Kaplan would tell me, “Hush, squeamish child of privilege. Go back to your video games and allow Achilles to do his bloody work.” And I accept the point that violence is a tool we have to use.
But to assert that that it is the primary work of our nation now–that all other challenges pale before some all-consuming war–is, I think, wishful and wrong and a little bit sick.
And I’m surprised that a group as able as the Tribune editorial board is playing along with the terror-obsessed Tolkiens who tell that tale.