Readers revisit Bakke with Kinsley.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Dec. 6 2002 4:14 PM

Bakke 1, 2, 3

Fray on Kinsley on the revisitation.

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Friday, Dec. 6, 2002

Bakke 1, 2, 3: Michael Kinsley's argument  that affirmative action post-Bakkediscriminates, just not much and not against the people who are usually upset by it, has brought out some great posts.

1. In this thread, Publius and JackD debate the changes at the Ivies. Publius makes the interesting point that the aggressive quota and diversity seeking system has improved admission possibilities for many white kids, too. Asking where did the African-American students admitted under quotas come from, Publius answers:

[M]ost came from public schools where the Ivies had never recruited, and in the process, admissions from private prep schools dropped from two thirds of each class to one third, so that public school graduates of every background had a better shot.

In another thread, ShriekingViolet makes the anti-contrarian argument (the scarcity argument)

2. Here, TheSlasher-8 (we'll get that changed) claims that the problems is a scarcity of professional schools to begin with:

The number of medical schools in this country is ridiculously low, and in almost all cases is further burdened by other kinds of quotas such as state residency, parents who are graduates, etc.

3. Last, Ananda Gupta has overcome posting problems to argue that Kinsley's logic

appeals to an implicit double standard -- it's okay for Michigan to consider the beneficial effects of its policies on one group, but when it comes to the costs, only the cost to individuals is relevant. This is analogous to my arguing that the government should pay everyone with the first name "Ananda" $1 million in subsidies per year, and if some impudent taxpayer were to object, my defending this policy by saying that each individual taxpayer's share is just pennies …

Divalution: Virginia Heffernan reports  on Mariah Carey's recovery and Whitney Huston's not. SunDevil is put off by Whitney's claim that her business is "Sex, drugs and rock and roll" here:

Okay, maybe her business is sex (I don't want to know) and drugs (definitely), but Whitney Houston wouldn't know rock and roll if it came up and bit her. That Contemporary Hit Radio stuff that she's based her career on is anything but rock.

Not that SunDevil has nice things to say about Mariah here:

Her vocal style reminds me of those "Guitar-Hero" types from the 80's, like Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Chris Impelliteri, et al. They crammed as many notes into a song or solo as possible, from the highest high end to the lowest low end, without any regard as to whether the notes fit the context of the song, or whether they even sounded any good. My friends called it "gratuitous wanking" …

Fray-Lo: And speaking of gratuitous wanking: Mariah, Whitney—who's missing? Jennifer, of course. For your Fray fix join BML here.

Everyone's a critic: Many regular Fraysters are frequent moviegoers, yet the Movies Fray is usually ho-hum. In part this is because the reviews usually come out before the movies (that would be the point), in part this is because the thing people do after they see movies is talk about them (thus sapping the Will to Fray). Try to save some of your crit for the Fray (or repeat yourself). Drop by Sunday or early Monday and I'll clip stuff for the Monday midday Fraywatch (the one that includes Sopranos stuff).

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Thursday, Dec. 5, 2002

Tree-mendous: There are several good threads in the debate over Bush's new forest management policy which turns, as usual, on fire suppression and economic impact. In one debate, between mrachmuth asksTSR

If there are such large private forests owned and maintained by the logging industry, why does that industry fight so hard to open up the public lands to logging? I agree with the movement toward a sustainable logging industry; what I object to and fight against is the need to open up all lands to mining, logging, etc.

Both Sarvis here and TheSlasher here argue that only corporate welfare makes logging profitable; historyguy explains the logic of Bush's profit motive.

Adkforester makes the classic conservative stewardship article here:

The forests out west are often in an unhealthy situation. Years of neglect have produced stands that are overstocked and stressed. ... Fires can grow to overwhelming size and temperature, literally cooking the ground ruining entire watersheds which I am sure fly fisherman love. When we first disturbed the ground we made the promise that we would be stewards of the land. Doing nothing is not good stewardship.

And Ender reminds us that it's always tree-hunting season here:

[N]o one appreciates a good tree more than an old school logger. I say old school because I feel that chainsaws take much of the pleasure, not to mention challenge out of the kill. No, give me an axe and one of those weekend quasi-environmentalists and I'll turn them into a logger faster than you can say timberrrr. ...

Racketeers and sloganeers: Dahlia Lithwick asks for new slogans in the abortion debate. OhioBoy obliges, evenhandedly:

Slogan for Pro-Choicers: Kill the Babies! (They'd probably be idiots anyway!)

Slogan for Pro-Lifers: If you can't trust Congress to make decisions about your pregnancy, who the heck CAN you trust?

Ever wonder how is a fetus is like a postwar Japanese citizen caught up in the struggle for democracy? samuelv explains here. ...

Insert the metal buckle into slot and pull hard on the strap to tighten: I hadn't figured out why the posts castigating Chatterbox for mulling over the relationship between S&M and political torture seemed so boring to me (some were well-wrought, but still) until I read Christofurio's suggestion here:

Chatterbox's problem isn't really with torture (he's against it). Nor is it with consensual sex among adults (he's for it). Judging from this article, Chatterbox's real problem is with issues like mandatory seat belt use, where he favors using the force of law and the threat of punishment to get people to do what is good for them. He doesn't know how to square THAT with his tolerant views on S&M.

Seat belt laws—there's something to get excited about! ...

Possibly the definitive Kissinger investigation post: BBanzi here:

After 40 years of waiting, at long last: Warren Commission II !!! ... 5:40 a.m.

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Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2002

Reach out and terrorize someone: Among its other topics, the Ballot Box Fray is reacting to William Saletan's disassembly  of the Bush administration's distinction between terrorist organizations with "global reach"—the ones America is at war with—and those without it—the ones we tut-tut about. Zathras defends the distinction, if not the term, explaining that:

Every al Qaeda attack except assassinations of individuals and the Cole bombing that has killed Americans has killed nationals of other countries as well.

There is a school of thought that these countries would have nothing to fear from al Qaeda if that group were not so angry with us. It's more likely they would just be easier targets …[W]hile protecting American lives and interests obviously occupies the top position on the administration's list of priorities other countries have good reason to consider our war theirs as well.

But Engram sees the contradictions hidden in the administration's distinction as a way to expand the war on terror, solving several problems at once here:

Since we are asking Israel to hold back, we should take it upon ourselves to exterminate the terrorist infestation in Kenya. This would be good for Israel (because we would be joining their war against terrorism) and for us (because Israel would remain on the sidelines while we deal with Iraq).

Engram also notes that:

We [did] not complain when Vladimir Putin recently declared that Russia might pre-emptively strike at terrorists hiding in other countries, and we openly praised Australian Prime Minister John Howard when he recently adopted a similar position. ... Obviously, Israel is a special case, and asking them to refrain from taking action against terrorists in Kenya is not the blatant contradiction that Saletan makes it out to be. ...

Phony wonks? Authentic slackers?: Mulling over the continuing Kausfiles Kerry contest, Pacimini offers a superbly wrought account of the psychology at work in the Beltway bashing of Kerry in "Maybe Kaus hates welfare AND work." One nugget:

Kaus doesn't think that Kerry's furrow is phony because Kerry's not serious. Instead, Kaus and the Washington media herd all think that "seriousness" itself is phony, that knowing a lot about the environment, defense, public works, and other government projects is per se a demonstration of inauthenticity. That's one of the reason's why the press was so eager to portray Al Gore as deceitful. How, the thought goes, can somebody be honest when they read as much and know as much as Gore?

If this hypothesis is true, it might explain why ostentatiously uninvolved politicians like George Bush seem more real to Kaus and the rest of the press. They're more authentic because they don't work any harder than Kaus wants to work.

Five Nice Threads: Today's Papers discussing the Supreme Court's decision to revisitBowers v. Hardwick and the resulting fate of gay marriage (also available in a more extensive Best of the Fray version here); the possibility for universal health insurance in California; and Kofi Annan’s newfound desire to avoid war in Iraq; Sports Nut on the UNC job, which includes Captain Ron Voyage's advice to the Jayhawks' AD: "Kansas should have fired Williams for not taking the job—it shows an appalling lack of judgment, and casts serious doubt on his ability to ever win a championship"; and Poems on "Nail Broth." ...

Weighty issues: Best of the Fray's DiraNecessitas announces a political-scientific discovery here. Update: So DN didn't originate it, and I am burned, as historyguy said  I would be. I still think it's funny, and that makes me even worse than the annoying co-worker who's always forwarding you "humorous" lists. More room for Pacimini in the theoretical BOTF. ...

Perhaps more than we need to know: Andkathleen: "I have a bladder made of steel" ... 7:25 a.m.

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Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2002

Double-cross purposes: As in an Altman film, there are often multiple simultaneous conversations in the Chatterbox Fray. Currently, at least two of those are responses to Tim Noah's most recent pieces. The first is an exercise in political semantics stemming from the uses and abuses of "fifth column" by Andrew Sullivan and Al Gore. Engram here finds Noah's parsing

Curious. Sullivan gets roundly criticized for labeling those who prefer to allow the Taliban to oppress the people of Afghanistan while running terrorist training camps as being part of a fifth column, whereas Gore is let off the hook for implying that our own president is the real enemy.

The second conversation is an exercise in deep Machiavellianism pondering Henry Kissinger's intentions as head of the commission investigating intelligence failures before 9/11. Here, the key issue is whether Kissinger's self-protective/vengeful instincts will overwhelm his Republican partisanship. TrentLottsHairpiece thinks the entire commission is another anti-Democratic campaign here:

The Kissinger Commission will exonerate both Bush administrations and lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Clinton administration. The report will be out shortly before the presidential election to maximize its negative effect on Gore's candidacy.

But Thrasymachus sees it the other way here: "Even if he wasn't Deep Throat, I don't think he's a slave to the Republican Party."

There is an especially good Chatterbox thread beginning with Cato-the-Censor's protestation here that

Noah's speculation that Kissinger would use the investigation of this most horrific event to settle some personal vendetta is beyond creepy. I don't want to believe it. I prefer to think of Dr. Kissinger as a mendacious war criminal. … 1:30 p.m.

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Monday, Dec. 2, 2002

57 varieties of dislike: Mickey Kaus asks: Why is John Kerry "loathsome"? and offers a prize for the best answer. No winners yet (I think), but excellent snipage. The great hair debate—Kaus lacks; Kerry has, but it might be store-bought—begins with historyguy's post here; in another thread, MarcEJohnson has his mock-dudgeon on here:

While we're on the very important subject of misleading facial hair, I think it's high time that speaks up about Mickey Kaus's disingenuous nose hairs. Are we really to believe them? I personally think that they raise serious questions about Kaus's fitness to blog, and feel that our nation's political discourse will not be whole until we have a full public airing of all complaints regarding such dangerous features.

Eduardo chimes in with a "Kerry is so very caring" post here—it would embarrass me enough to send him the book. ...

I can see the red taillights: No one in the Fray thinks the near-miss attack on an El-Al plane on Thanksgiving is as scary as James Fallows does. But the reasons differ. Clutch_john thinks Americans are insulated by their chauvanism—"no one in America cares about this instance because it happened outside of the country with a non-American plane"—while Thrasymachus thinks Americans are more valorous than Fallows gives them credit for:

when did Americans become such cowards? When did we reach this pernicious conclusion that any risk, however remote or hypothetical, was unacceptable? When did we come to value "security" to the point where any sacrifice (including, ironically, peace) became worthwhile?

Several folks (here, here, and here) also note that there have been several attempts to shoot down airliners before, with no resultant fear of flying. ... 12:30 p.m.

In Napoli, where love is king: The TV Club Fray consistently works back and forth between the details on screen and the welling emotions of the end of the Sopranos season. GMG gives us a sense of the objective correlatives of Furio's sadness:

He cannot simply move to Mineola or Minneapolis; Carmela would pursue him, find some reason. Napoli is much safer. So for her, he gives up the U.S. (which he loves, did you see the way his eyes fixed on the displays of flags at roadside gas stations?) for Naples, which is no longer a place he wants to be. He returns to the female boss, the hamburger wrappers at the Naples Cathedral--a place where he will be unhappy, so that Carmela may live.

He was better in E/R than in er: There is even more evocative criticism in the Movies Fray, where zeitguy describes George Clooney's acting chops here:

I disagree with Edelstein on Clooney's ability as an actor ... When he is dictating a voice mail to a client's phone, the barrenness of his exhausted professional commitment comes through in the stiff lip and bleak phrasing. In "Three Kings" Clooney showed he could swagger and command as well as goof and flirt. In this movie he summons a flayed soul. It is Irish to the quick, a gruel of blood and oatmeal.

He brings to mind Richard Burton's toppled priest in Night of the Iguana.

And there is an amusing thread (beginning here) where Kudos_heaves pointedly asks Rosenkreutz a did-I-get-that-right question:

so its ok for homosexuals to be finicky about decor and grooming, but it's FUNNY when gays have something to say about science?

Bat's entertainment: In the Television Fray, which is discussing both the return of The Osbornesand the impending debut of Steven Spielberg's Taken,ben-sf was the first to say that Ozzy bit the bat by accident here; Chris C. Mooney has not taken on his critics (despite Godels_Yodel's baiting here), but he has taken the time to write about his own sleep paralysis here. ...

Evidence? One by one is at #53: As for the waning of America's UFO obsession, 1-2-oscar makes clear what the real stakes are here:

Even if 9/11 and subsequent events cure Americans of their obsession with UFOs, you can still expect the Media to present "the government" as the bad guys.

The perpetual undermining of confidence in the system is perhaps Hollywood's greatest injustice. ... 9:40 a.m.

J.D. Connor is assistant professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard. He is working on a book about neoclassical Hollywood.