Traffic patterns in the Fray.

Traffic patterns in the Fray.

Traffic patterns in the Fray.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
April 25 2003 12:47 PM

U-turns and backseat drivers

Traffic patterns in the Fray.

Light Traffic: This week's ReadMe Fray isn't generating a great deal of volume, though a disproportionately intelligent number of posts responding to Michael Kinsley's "Democracy and Traffic Jams." No playa-hatin', trash-talkin', or are-you-now-or-have-you-evers—just cuddly, wonkish exposition.

RavenT speaks to "asymmetrical interests" in the decision making process here. MrZero points out that traffic is a quintessential example of the necessity of government to make collective decisions, "The government is not your enemy—the government is you." Indeed, "traffic libertarianism" would make that CVS run kind of dicey. In response, mikkyld objects to Zero's framing of the issue on the right-left continuum.

Red Light, Green Light: Rather than debate whether democracy can provide for an individual while it makes a collective decision, others want to schmooze about the $8 congestion tax itself. JimmytheCelt disagrees with Kinsley that "Rapid transit is a pipe dream for this spread-out country":

All us boomers will shortly become too blind, too slow, or too debilitated to drive cars. Our kids won't chauffeur us around, that's for sure. We better start lobbying now for the transit investments that Kinsley deems impractical.

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Econguy questions if cities in the United States have sufficient alternatives in place even if they wanted to impose a congestion fee. Londoner dave2002 gives us a report on the effects of the congestion charge, and wonders "where all the traffic has gone." Another point:

The interesting thing for this type of solution is that as a solution it does not matter what those people are doing—they have found individually solutions which are perhaps OK for them. We may gain understanding by finding out where they went, but this makes no difference to the solution itself.

Baltimore–aureole says that London:

used to charge an entrance fee in the middle ages. to keep out the riffraff, raise money for the rulers, and ensure that propertied men and traders could go about their business with minimal distraction from beggars, thieves, and such. so the 'new' fee is perhaps only the restoration of a medieval policy?

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Baltimore insists that such a fee in a major U.S. city would result in mass "exodus." Finally, Game_Warden and MarcEJohnson engage in a debate over John Kenneth Galbraith's premise that industry manufactures and determines consumer demand. GW calls Galbraith an "embarrassment to liberals." GW's post is here, with Marc's rebuttal here.

Love, Valour, Passion, Aggression: TheJK opens up the board, asking:

Forget money, forget food, forget any other as-yet-unspecified, unmentioned, oft-imagined ransom demands from North Korea. One thing that NK has asked for from the US THIS TIME (meaning that I recognize that they asked for more in the past) is a non-aggression pact, in return for abandoning their nuclear program. My question is simple.

Why not give it to them, assuming that the pact includes a sensible conditional clause or two?

Consensus in the Fray is that it's a pretty good idea, though baltimore-aureole responds with a list of conditions to which Pyongyang would have to accede. A skeptical DiraNecessitas asks:

What is it that you think they negotiated and breached with Clinton? It was, in essence, a non-aggression pact coupled with food and financial aid in exchange for not pursuing a nuke program. Are to believe now that if we give them exactly the same thing they'll honour their agreement, this time?

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And, here, Engram believes any agreement must be multilateral. … KFA9:30 a.m.

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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2003

Family Therapy: So far as conflating the issue of same-sex sodomy and incest, ChrisH responds, "The problem here is that there does not seem to be a clear understanding of the relationship between individual civil rights and a state's ability to upend them." He refers back to Bowers v. Hardwick to craft a strategy to loosen this uneasy juridical connection between the two. Here's more, though the lengthy post is a good read in its entirety and offers an original Fray slant:

Santorum's comments are right in this respect: if the court finds a right to homosexual sex, it will do so by finding, generally, a fundamental right to private sexual conduct. Thus, he (and Saletan) is right: incest, bigamy, adultery, etc. can all be reasonably construed as expressions of this right. But the Constitutional analysis does not end there. Once the fundamental right is found, then the state law being challenged must meet strict scrutiny: the law must be 'necessary to achieve a compelling government purpose.'

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Pampas believes that if we're establishing a line, then it should be rhetorically drawn at non-procreative sex of any kind here. Geoff resents that gays, like HRC's GC Kevin Layton, are being asked to defend incest on comparable legal grounds:

The gay lobby isn't going to be any better at arguing for incest than the lobby of sexual-choice straights who rolled back adultery and contraception laws around the country during the 1930's were at arguing for sodomy. Why? Because, many of them consider incest wrong. ... If people want to commit incest, they should get their own damn lobby.

As many others state, tman argues that incest, more often than not, isn't consensual at all. ShriekingViolet, though, concedes Saletan's point:

My thinking is that incest should be very strongly discouraged by all elements of society. Yet throwing an adult brother and sister (or two sisters, for that matter) in jail for shagging each other is unreasonable. So is there a "right to incest"? Not in so many words. But perhaps we SHOULD conclude that the definition of criminal incest should be limited to forceful or coercive acts, and to acts committed against minors.

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Retrograde: In Gearbox, Mickey Kaus bids good riddance to Ford's T-Bird, which will cease production in 2005 or 2006, and speculates that this may be the beginning of the end of retro-futurism—at least in the automotive arena—what Kaus calls "nostalgic Boomer Retro-Cartoons." Retief attributes the T-Bird's failure this way:

Does this announcement doom retro-futurism or is it simply a matter of Ford doing it poorly. I think the latter. After all, aren't the new bug and the PT Cruiser doing reasonably well? Even with the new bug excessive price tag for such a small car.

ShriekingViolet agrees, chalks up the failure to the price tag, and hopes "the Mustang GT is a better retro rocket. Otherwise Steve McQueen may come back from the dead to kick somebody's ass." CaptainRonVoyage goes along with some of Gearbox's conspiracy theories of making the announcement three years before the drop-dead date here. And:

As for retro-futurism, the new 'Stang has enough in common with a TT, Acura NSX or BMW 3-Series to keep it from being precious like the New Mini (that big speedometer is gay, gay, gay). Bill Ford seems to be trying to erase the entire era of about 1972-1988 for FMC, which, although it's questionably Oedipal, is not a bad idea at all in and of itself. Unless you're a fan of the Pinto, the Fiesta, or the execrable Mustang II.

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So far as CRV's smack on the Mini's console, FrayEditor takes issue, as he has an Indi Blue 'S' on reserve. ... KFA9:10 a.m.

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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2003

Paper Not Plastic: Dan_Simon questions Jack Shafer's hit piece on Judith Miller and wonders why he has been silent on Eason Jordan's snafu at CNN here.

CNN has been willing to break ranks and sell its virtue for less than its competitors. If so, then it clearly undermined foreign press organizations' efforts to obtain a freer hand in reporting on conditions in those—and other—dictatorial countries. It also failed, unlike the Times, to own up to its audience about the compromises it had made, until long after the fact.

EFriedemann, coming at it from a different angle, argues, "It would be worth pondering the alternative to "embeds" or other special reporting agreements. That would be CIA black operations that wouldn't be reported until years after the fact, if then."

Locdog doesn't understand "gay activists' hissy fit" over Senator Rick Santorum's comments regarding Lawrence v. Texas (Dahlia Lithwick's Supreme Court Dispatch on the case can be found here), in which the high court will rule on Texas' sodomy laws. Among Santorum's most inciting comments is, "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." And among locdog's:

Perhaps the most mystifying aspect of gaydom's response is that the groups Santorum compared them to are people they, and liberals in general, otherwise like.

Butterscotch-luv attempts to set him straight—so to speak— here, Geoff here, and Chango here. Historyguy points out that Santorum wasn't speaking explicitly about gay consensual sex here. J_Mann plays devil's advocate:

If I wanted to have sex with my adult brother (which I don't), and the government doesn't have the right to pass moral judgments on my sex life, then I don't see a helpful distinction that allows the government to stop my brother and me, but not to stop you and your wife.

575-FRAY: Needing a poetic charge Monday morning, twifferTheGnu drops the gauntlet and initiates Haiku fencing over in Poems Fray "to get the old synapses firing." Rules 'n' Regs can be found here at the top of the contest thread. Twiffer and Hugh_Jass begin with a thematic match on the glory of Patriots' Day in Boston and the Bosox morning start at Fenway. Geoff and WVMicko juxtapose a pending storm against desktop trouble and the morning commute here. And Holy Brewmeister! It's Tampopo with beer when andkathleen and Geoff get into it here singing the virtues of dark stouts … and then some. FrayEditor chooses this balletic duel as the winning number. Following this lyrical orgy, everyone wants to crawl into verse with these two.

Correction: Raprap informs FrayEditor that, contrary to yesterday's entry, Robert Heinlen "was not in the Navy during WWII. Rather he was cloistered on the mountain as part of the Manhattan Project." FrayEditor thanks raprap for the sound fact-checking. ... KFA9:10 a.m.

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Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2003

"Opulence in Different Nations":Stellar post by The_Bell in response to Gideon Rose's "How to Run an Empire." The_Bell leads off with an apt Adam Smith quote and generally "agree[s] with much of with Mr. Rose had to say," then elaborates:

We may need to train a generation not of proconsuls and praetors but of trade regulators and negotiators. The Ivy League's "brightest and best" may be sent out to govern the world not in uniforms with epaulets and tassels but the same three-piece pinstripe suits they have always worn.

From the libertarian view, sactong couldn't disagree more. He argues that, "People get the governments they deserve. They also harvest the governments they countenanced have sown. Left to their own devices, Afghanistan got the Taliban and Iraq got Saddam." His quotable is Thomas Jefferson, who expounds that, "whenever a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."  Sactong maintains that "Sorry, we won't adopt you, make you a colony or grant you statehood. ... As to empire—thanks, but no thanks."

Ice Bound & Gagged: Schadenfreude from Snaphook at seeing Susan Sarandon's Sunday night movie on CBS, Ice Bound finish last in the overnights, "Can you say Dead Career Walking?" Fray critic, historyguy on the the telepic—the story of Dr. Jerri Nielsen, a physician suffering from breast cancer while on a research mission at the South Pole: "Ice Bound wouldn't have done much better if it starred Laura Bush herself." Historyguy takes the opportunity to mention that the Dixie Chicks have wandered their way back to the top of the charts, even after "their album has been out for 33 weeks. But that's the country charts, clearly a left-leaning demographic."

Geoff-erson Starship: Finding prescient allegory in Starship Troopers, Geoff waxes here on a creampuff that was actually a napolean. Tiersias expands on Robert Heinlen here, from whose book the movie was adapted and who, himself, was a Naval Academy grad and WWII vet. DeaH is a bit less admiring here. And Chango gets off on the flagellation of Casper Van Diem here. The Fray awaits comment from David Edelstein. … KFA9:40 a.m.

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Monday, Apr. 21, 2003

Primary Concerns: A nice, serpentine three-way kibbitz, starting withSarvis, pulls in zinya and WVMicko:

Zinya, you went and pulled the cork off—I say we resurrect that lingering, festering sore and lance the boil that is the Rift on the Left! ... As long as the DNC hopes to play the margins and be *good enough* at contribution sucking corruption, while maintaining enough votes from the left to cobble thin margins, then there is no hope. ... Terry McHarlot has GOT GOT TO GO.

No disagreement on the Chair. WV then explores  the feasibility of a lower seed working his way through the Democratic bracket:

Is there ANYONE outside of the Clinton clique that doesn't want McAuliffe sacked? ... In the short term, there's one more thing that might be done: pick our candidates wisely. ... Let's not forget that that is precisely how control of the party was grabbed by neoliberals back in the seventies, by way of McGovern's candidacy. ... McGovern may have self-destructed following the convention, but up until then his campaign was a textbook example of how to use grass-roots organization, enthusiasm and momentum to slay giants.

Zinya offers a number of strategic prescriptions, and critiques Democratic operative Donna Brazile's posture that "Everyone loves Bush, they just don't like his plan.":

I can't agree more that she's gone far, far too political in her approach. Why in heaven's name would Dems want to 'stipulate' that Bush is loved? In some majoritarian sense? He is not "loved" outside of his base. At best the majoritarian view of Bush, imo, is 'wary willingness' to go along with him in default, up to a point, out of deference to what is hyped (by Bushies and by media) to be alleged resoluteness. ... But behind that is plenty of inconsistency and crosstalk and double-dealing that must be exposed for what it is. ... And meanwhile, any 'concession" that Bush is 'loved' is both unfounded and defeatist, imo, it's not political wisdom.

In or Out?Slate's experiment to initiate non-war-related dialogue in the While You Were Out Fray produced the following results as of 0730 hours, Monday morning: Of the sufficiently coherent posts on the board, 16 addressed the war and the subsequent recovery in Iraq and 20 delved into the other stuff that doesn't have accompanying theme music…or coverage for that matter.  Current tally: 55 percent out/45 percent in. KFA7:50 a.m.