reg rats
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Like most liberals, next fall I intend to vote for any Democrat capable of getting him- or herself nominated. But I have had enough of primary season. Not just this particular primary season--I've had enough of the whole concept. Why is the race treated as all but over after one caucus and one primary? I'd be pointing fingers at a devious media conspiracy designed specifically to encourage passivity in the voting public, but I don't believe the powers that be in the media are sufficiently crafty and strategic for that. They just like big stories.

So let's give them one. It's time to designate national Primary Day, and get all the states on board for the same one. The media can have their fun, and all 50 states can have equal weight in the outcome.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I've been giving some thought recently to the sharp contrast in attitudes of two of my most beloved political interest groups regarding a certain issue, which is to say, the issue of fat people as seen by feminists and environmentalists. The most recent issue of Bitch, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday, contains a paragraph that really fleshes it out, so to speak.

In a piece on the tendency of famously emaciated women to brag about how much they eat (apparently Cameron Diaz likes french fries), Ms. Ricki Wovsaniker writes:

One might conceivably determine that the move toward eating a lot, and eating carelessly, as a cultural standard is a good thing for women, a removal of the pressure to eat like a bird as a mark of one's femininity. After all, it implies a knowledge of - and respect for - one's own body and its needs, without calibrating those needs to the expectations of others. It implies a certain lack of shyness about using resources, and a belief in one's right to exist in the world, to literally take up more space.

I find it hard to buy the idea that any but a few Americans of any gender need encouragement to take up more resources - we're quite skilled at it already. Wovsaniker's comments suggest that if she were a sheep-owner in "The Tragedy of the Commons" (non sequitur: a moment of silence for the passing of TotC author Garrett Hardin, who has an unusual obit in the current U of C alumni mag), she'd be running her sheep all over the field, and setting her dogs on the neighbors' sheep to boot.

The problem, I think, is a refusal to separate the issue of fat as a health/gluttony problem, symptomatic of a society determined to consume itself to death, from that of "fat" as equated with "not a supermodel." I hesitate to make sweeping statments about feminists in general, but there is a tendency among us to make a quick leap from attacking the media's obsession with unrealistic body types to disparaging any condemnation of fatness of any degree. The latter approach leads Wovsaniker to convert greed into a virtue.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
In tomorrow's Times David Brooks' column suggests that everyone who discusses links between the White House and Neo-cons needs to report for a tin foil hat fitting. On substance, he ignores social networks and the informal channels through which weak ties can be mobilized. A general "move along, nothing to see here sort of effort."

Why I'm not ignoring him like I do Safire is a curious parenthetical remark at the top of the 5th paragraph. He says "(con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for 'Jewish')." I'm trying hard to figure out if this is a joke. His odd usage of "neo-" seems to imply that critics of the neo-Conservatism (cf Coser and Howe(eds.) The New Conservatives, Meridian 1973) and particularlyDemocratic candidates are anti-semitic. This wanton invocation cheapens the concept generally. It recalls the Administration's charges of anti-Catholic bias when the House Judiciary held up arch-conservative nominees. There is surely too much religious, ethnic, racial, and class hatred in the country to spend outrage and spill ink over criticisms that have not the first thing to do with religion.

ed- I really hope this isn't some obscure use of neo- that I'm unfamiliar with. I'd feel silly.
Monday, January 05, 2004
To break the silence if briefly: I've always been a huge fan of propaganda. Even more so that of my side. Regardless of affiliation or lack thereof, everyone should take a look at the finalists in the MoveOn ad contest.

I surely enjoyed them. It is scary to contemplate a state of affairs where such charges could be legitimately leveled (some more than others). Also interesting how much better the volunteer ads are than the professionally developed DNC ads from the last cycle.

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