The Fray on the charismatically challenged.

The Fray on the charismatically challenged.

The Fray on the charismatically challenged.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
May 9 2003 4:44 PM

Veep of Faith

The Fray on the charismatically challenged.

A Graham of Flesh: Chris Suellentrop's Assessment of Bob Graham has the candidate pegged as this year's Orrin Hatch, despite being "knowledgeable, likable, and smart." CaptainRonVoyage maintains that "Regardless of party, economic circumstance, American voters have consistently expressed a singular preference: for the candidate who is more interesting." In this event, CRV thinks that the President is infallible over the Democratic field:

Bush II could strangle a nun with his penis while snorting a line of coke on national TV and bombing Mexico, and still clean Bob Graham's clock 100 elections out of 100. Ditto for Kerry, Edwards, Moseley-Braun and Dean. And don't get me started on Clean Joe Lieberman….Charisma, womanizing, a history of substance abuse and/or killing a man in battle are all far better indicators of victory than those tired criteria of experience, geographic origin, pedigree, character, maturity or positions on "the issues."

BigIron doesn't disagree with CRV's theory, but throws this in as his coup de grace:

I'm sticking with my Testosteronic Theory of Presidential Elections, which holds that ther Presidential election will go to the candidate who is perceived as more manly.

According to Iron, who's a manly man? "Kerry, Dean, Edwards, and Clark are the only likely Dem candidates with a decent chance."

Second Prize in a Beauty Contest: The_Bell echoes a lot of Fraysters who feel that the softballs lobbed at Graham during last Saturday's debate were a pretext to a Veep invitation: "His low-key, almost clumsy, style may work against him as a Presidential candidate but it is perfect for the VP role." All that aside, "the thing that makes him so attractive is his home state – Florida," says Bell. Democrat Alex would rather keep him in the Senate, where an open Florida seat would be vulnerable to the Republican's taking. Mikkyld is riddled by Graham's throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater vote against taking military action in Iraq.

Ode to Esther: MichaelRyerson shares a morsel of his memory with the Fray, a diary of snapshots, windowpanes, and maternal wisdom.

Michael: Fraywatch is composed daily less than 2 miles from Sunset & Descanso – atop Elysian Heights…KFA1:40 p.m.

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Thursday, May 8, 2003

Put it on my Tab: John Horgan's trip down memory lane and his appeal for decriminalizing entheogens on religious and exploratory grounds have fellow passengers:

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Doodahman here: "They are not child's play, but they are well within the capability of most persons to use intelligently, with great benefit, and often lots of fun. Unlike what I've observed with those who use alcohol, even the moderate use of which tends to make people loud and stupid."

Andkathleen here: "So hallucinogens, which have positive benefits and fewer side effects than legal prescription medications, are illegal. And the reason why they are illegal is because of their connection to the 60s drug culture, which is unfortunate. Associating them with a detachment from society aligns them with irresponsibility, which doesn't actually seem to be a true connection."

Geoff here: "After all, they do no physical harm. Consumed responsibly the pose no threat to one's self or to society at large. The greatest source of harm coming out of recreational drug use is the organized crime which creates the black market used to deliver the product to consumers... something which could be dissolved overnight with a bout of legalizations."

Drop the Subject: Misc_t maintains that "the more precise studies of brain tissue, though, are less ambiguous. I can't tell you definitively whether LSD and Ecstasy are good for your mind, but it's clear that they're terrible for your brain." ElboRuum shares some personal, close-to-home anecdotes that make him skittish about the casual approbation a good ol' trip gets among hallucinauts.

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Dropping with Nixon: ConservativeJoe speculates here that it will take a Republican to turn the tide on the issue, "like Nixon going to China." Indeed, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and California Republican Senatorial candidate Tom Campbell have probably been the most outspoken statewide candidates to come out strongly against the "War on Drugs."

Acid Snobs: Jimmythe Celt applauds Horgan, showers the cause with hosannas, then concludes his post with this bombshell: "I'm also in favor of prohibiting them from legal commerce." Why? "I like that Aldous Huxley Timothy Leary snob cachet. So sue me." Rufous agrees with his sentiment here. And speaking of suits, TheMaxFischerPlayers brings up this practical ohhh-yeahhh-hadn't-thought-o'-that:

Let's see, there are class action suits currently pending against producers of asbestos, tobacco, meat, medicine, cars, factory farms, coffee, shoes … you name it. What company is going to produce LSD for over the counter sales in this litigious society. Bet there would be tort reform when narcotics are legalized.

Trip Notes: Ang_Cho digs into his bottom desk drawer and plucks out some old scribblings—presumably from the last Burning Man—to  illustrate linguistically "the case for keeping LSD illegal."… KFA8:20 a.m.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Corps of the Matter: Mitch Daniels—Slate friend or foe? Michael Grunwald's Tuesday piece, "The Corps Cored" highlights noble attempts by Daniels as budget director for at least trying to "zero out some of the worst corps stinkers." Then on Wednesday, Moneybox's Daniel Gross subtitled his piece on the departure of Daniels from the Bush Administration's economic team, "Farewell to OMB Director Mitchell Daniels, the budget-cutter who couldn't cut." Brian-1 comments:

Wow, it's tough being a member of Bush's economic team. One day you're getting rave reviews in Slate for giving Army Corp of Engineers porkers the what-for, and practically the very next day another Slate writer is tearing you a new one.

Responding to the haloed Daniels, De-Soto points out that flouting the laws of kashrut cuts both ways, "You do not have to be a neanderthal republican from Missouri to like them. Even the dreaded San Francisco liberals, like Lynn Woolsey, like Corps boondoggles," but then nominates "Mitch Daniels for Pres."

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But on the Moneybox board, it's a different story entirely; Daniels is running about 65-35 as an ineffectual schnook. Adam_Masin on the prospect of Daniels as Indiana's gubernatorial nominee can be found here. AbeJ thinks that Gross didn't go far enough in taking the Republican's OMB behind the woodshed. Octavianus thinks Daniels "has the perfect cover to get out from the job that nobody in particular is eager to get."

A hero in "Politics," a villain in "Moneybox," Daniels retreats to Indy where he can play both sides against the Bush tax cut in an economically depressed, traditionally Republican state with a formerly popular Dem governor, FO'B, who has an approval rating hovering around 40 percent—the reason according to likely voters: a budget crisis. … KFA9:55 a.m.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Pay Cycle: Michael Kinsley doesn't shirk from his admission of schadenfreude from the reports and the subsequent confession of William Bennett's fierce gambling habit. The Moral Czar ran into a tight machine last week after Jonathan Alter uncovered his habitual vice with losses approximating $8 million—almost 381,000 hardback copies of The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories from Amazon.com. (it's worth noting that Jeff Bezos is willing to sport the cost for shipping this month through the company's Super Saver Shipping promotion.)

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ShriekingViolet here and enuf here speak to the "moral relativism" that Bennett has made a career of denouncing. SV, who concedes a certain "dangerous and foolish" trap in a relativist value system, nevertheless takes Bennett to task because "it is equally dangerous and foolish to design a moral system for oneself that is specifically tailored to excuse one's own shortcomings and excessively punish the perceived shortcomings of others." TC-3 here and tman here both charge that by insisting that he just about broke even on the wildly house-favored slots, Bennett is clearly lying—a flouting of his paramount principle of "truth-telling." 

NHRepublican believes that "it is the message not the man that counts," and alludes to Martin Luther King's "alleged plagiarism and extramarital activities" that don't discredit his "core messages" that are "still worth teaching."

Alinator, as do many others, points out that, "There is nothing salacious about it. The amount of money gambled is relevant to the amount of worth a person has. … There is no prohibition. Gambling, like alcohol consumption, is socially normal and acceptable."

Samuelv voices the most ardent defense of Bennett, going further than NH:

The fact is that there is no contradiction whatsoever in being for gambling and against adultery. Gambling victimizes no one. There's no deceit in gambling. The Bible says nothing about gambling. The mere fact that many of those who oppose or support gambling have the same opinion about adultery does not mean that those who have different opinions about those two things are hypocrites.

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Sam concludes by affording Bennett a compliment: "If anything is demonstrated by this, it is that Bennett thinks out his own positions. … Bennett's positions are his own, and therefore are not necessarily going to be the same positions as those of James Dobson."

Multi-Paylines: How does Bennett stack up against the moral philosophers? The_Fool flunks Bennett on Saint Thomas Aquinas here:

Aquinas' conception of the unity of the virtues. The idea is that they come together as a package—anyone who really has one virtue will have all the others. The problem for Bennett is that it follows that anyone who doesn't have one, doesn't have any. Because Aquinas is the Catholic virtue ethicist nonpareil, this is a real problem for Bennett defenders who try to excuse his gambling as an exception to an otherwise virtuous rule.

PXX offers an interesting take:

To claim that its ok to gamble in such a compulsive manner because you can afford to do so seems to imply that morality has a cash equivalent? But of course, in the real world, no Republican or right winger alive would deny this. However, efficacy and morality are supposed to be two different things, at least when applied to the powerless.

Stallrocket lambastes Bennett for violating Rule One of the Players' Handbook:

How does a man as obviously intelligent as Bennett wind up playing high stakes slot machines? No craps, blackjack or any other game that might arguably involve the use of some strategy or skill and better odds (even though you will lose in the long run)? Pulling a lever endlessly for millions is something only an idiot would do and, up until now, no one has described him as an idiot (forgetting about his "holier-than-thou" attitude which is merely annoying).

BrianBunnyhurt plays therapist and lets Kinsley off the hook, insisting that "I personally don't think it's schadenfreude." He explains here.

And finally, Ledbelly speculates that "Jesus forgives, Bennett will survive, and the hypocrisy of it all will escape us. I wonder if he believes in evolution?" KFA10:25 a.m.

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Monday, May 5, 2003

Palmetto Bugged: Saturday night's Democratic presidential candidates' debate in Columbia, S.C. was probably the second-most-watched horse race of the day. William Saletan gave it a good look in Ballot Box. WV Micko and 1-2-Oscar deliver a comprehensive Morning Line report on Saturday prior to the debate. WV's first posting is here, followed by Oscar's first-in-a-series of critiques of the field  here. So far as analysis, Joe_JP gets off the first coherent recap here in the Kausfiles Fray. Among other observations, JJP asks, "Does anyone think Sen. Lieberman has a shot in hell?" In contrast, he was duly impressed by Edwards:

His comment that both Kerry and Dean would be a better choice than the current occupant of the office was greatly timed. His question for Graham to promote his "new Southerner" philosophy was good too. His promotion of the war, but with a more internationalist vision was good too. And yes ... nearly every elected President since 1964 was a Southerner (two were from California, one of whom started the 'Southern Strategy' ... the other was a part time Texan).

Zinya, too, provides KFers with an extensive post-game recap, and slams Stephanopoulos for extending the Kerry-Dean fracas:

The media story needing to present a dogfight so first George S. brings up the Dean-Kerry thing 3 times til it does indeed degenerate into a childish moment, I agree, but then that was it for the rest. But that's not enough for the media. They have to make it seem worse by far than it was, and draw conclusions like 'It was clear they don't like each other.' That just shows the media trying to make this into personalities instead of positions.

And she agrees with JJP, "The main person of the 'big 5' who exceeded my expectations was Edwards."

86 the Crosnes and Stop Hand-Holding the Blue-Chippers: After reading Sara Dickerman's "Eat Your Words," a guide to menu English, well-credentialed Unamuno tells Sara Dickerman to do just that: "I am so astounded by your definitions, my head is spinning. I can't believe I'm a chef at this point. Where the hell have I been my whole life?"

Unamuno breaks down Dickerman's piece, sub-genre by sub-genre. A sample:

"Traffic Jamming: some menus pile up tedious aggregations of ingredients—more like supermarket nutritional labels than menu prose."



My my my Sara, Deep Sigh; you have been a server so you should know very well that with so many Americans on diets, they ask the server, 'What's in the dish?' So here we are in the kitchen with orders lined up, and kitchens are not sit down job places Sara, we bust ass, those kerchiefs we wear are because we sweat. We are counting in our heads, we have plates that need to go out, we have food that is cooking and we don't want it burnt or undone, so to have a server come up and say, 'Chef, what's the Vegetarian Paella?', we would have to stop to educate and PRAY the server does not come back and ask a second time. Between Atkins, Vegans, medications, food allergies, and those who want to design their plate (Woody Harrelson ordered a Caesar Salad, hold everything but the cos .... he paid $9.00 for a bowl of lettuce, we sent out lemon ... what was he thinking? LIVING FOOD ONLY) Listing items isn't to make a diner think they are getting their money's worth, it is to help the server and us serve what the customer wants the way they want it.

For much more of Unamuno's alternate style guide (Garner to Dickerman's Fowler's), click here

Shii is a He: J_Mann observes that "Plotz has proposed 'ruthlessness' and 'womanization' " in his discussion to rebuild Iraq. J suggests that:

It might be more efficient to combine the two. Anyone who tries to spread a theocracy, loot, pursue old vendettas, etc., will be subjected to the finest in US sex change technology, then released on the streets of Baghdad. "Yesterday, in related news, we caught Muhammed El Fatig, the King of Diamonds, and released him as Fatima El Fatig, the Queen of Diamonds." … KFA7:55 a.m.