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  #1  
Old 03-03-2008, 03:15 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default The McDiavlog

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  #2  
Old 03-03-2008, 04:12 PM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Can anyone see this new diavlog? I see a big white space where the faces usually are.
My guess is that one of the diavloggers is Benjamin Barber.
Aaaaagh, the suspense!

A bit later: I found the diavlog by looking at the side bar of another diavlog. Now I see that it's McWhorter and McArdle.

The main page is still weirdly blank, though.

Last edited by Bloggin' Noggin; 03-03-2008 at 04:15 PM..
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  #3  
Old 03-03-2008, 04:22 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Off point maybe. Did anyone else see John McWhorter yesterday on Booknotes in-depth. He is fascinating and prolific. Even though I have always found his diavlogs interesting, I had a tendency to want to paint him as a conservative (not that that is a bad thing)...he is so much more.
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  #4  
Old 03-03-2008, 04:58 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

BN: Display seems to be working (now) for me.

graz: Thanks for the reminder about JM's BookTV appearance. I plan to catch it when the webcast is posted.
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  #5  
Old 03-03-2008, 04:58 PM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

McWhorter is fast becoming my favorite non-Mickey/Bob blogginghead. Glad to see him paired with someone other than Loury. What can I say? Linguistics is a surprisingly interesting subject!
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  #6  
Old 03-03-2008, 05:43 PM
David Thomson David Thomson is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Barack Obama will likely lose by a landslide to John McCain. The middle-of-the-road voters are more interested in competence then merely proving they are not racists. Obama is another George McGovern who has learned to manipulate white guilt. This will get him the support of "elites" like John McWhorter and Megan McArdle---but few others past the guaranteed 40% that even the previously mentioned McGovern earned on Election Day.

Many voters are starting to realize that Obama is both inexperienced and a mealy mouther leftist. Also, why didn't Megan mention that Austan Goolsbee has been caught lying on behalf of the Obama campaign. Does she really believe that elitists like this University of Chicago economist can get away with their nonsense in this era of the Internet?
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  #7  
Old 03-03-2008, 06:31 PM
David Thomson David Thomson is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

There is something else that cannot be overlooked during the 2008 elections: America is at war against Islamic nihilism. This fact may be of little concern to John McWhorter and Megan McArdle---but it is very important to middle America. What in heaven's name does Barack "Barry" Obama have to offer in this regard? A number of Megan's friends like Michael Totten have already jumped aboard the John McCain bandwagon because of this top priority issue. Does McWhorter even spend five minutes a week thinking about the threat of Muslim extremism? Somehow I doubt it very much.
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  #8  
Old 03-03-2008, 06:58 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

David:

I doubt I'll budge you out of your thinking, but for the record, here's my new favorite bumper sticker:

Quote:
Hope Kicks Fear's Ass
I am not about to vote for a candidate who's running on the same basis as the current administration has operated. No how. No way.
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2008, 07:18 PM
David Thomson David Thomson is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

"Hope Kicks Fear's Ass
I am not about to vote for a candidate who's running on the same basis as the current administration has operated. No how. No way."

Wow, it sure is nice to communicate with the one of the forty percent who will vote for "Barry" Obama on Election Day. Most American voters do not think of themselves as paranoid regarding the threat of Islamic nihilism. No, they are convinced that the threat is real. And God help the candidate who wants to become our country's next commander-in-chief if they fail to share this concern. Alas, with friends like you---Obama does not need any enemies. Is it even possible that Karl Rove hired you to damage his campaign?
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  #10  
Old 03-03-2008, 07:30 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

David:

Quote:
And God help the candidate who wants to become our country's next commander-in-chief if they fail to share this concern.
You are mistaken if you think Obama or most of his supporters believe there is no threat from terrorists. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The differences between someone like me and someone like you on this issue can be expressed by two questions: (1) How big is the threat, really? and (2) What's the best way of dealing with it?

I am of the opinion that terrorism is not an existential threat to the US or any of its allies, and that it can be better dealt with once people stop attributing magical powers to those who engage in terroristic actions. I am also of the opinion that there are better ways to deal with the problem than by trying to solve it exclusively through military means. And I am convinced that the Bush Administration is doing more to help the terrorists than they are to stop them, both by acting as a recruiting poster and by allowing fear to change our way of life at home. I do not see McCain as being different in any of these areas.

Finally, I don't know what you hope to accomplish by saying "Barry" over and over again. Are you so unconvinced of your own political views or the soundness of your preferred candidate that you need to resort to name-calling?
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Last edited by bjkeefe; 03-03-2008 at 07:33 PM..
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  #11  
Old 03-03-2008, 07:38 PM
cragger cragger is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

"White guilt", "liberal elites", "'Barry' Obama" - first time I've ever heard that last one, and all in a couple short paragraphs.
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  #12  
Old 03-03-2008, 07:50 PM
David Thomson David Thomson is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

I am preparing dinner and have not had the chance to listen to the whole dialogue between John McWhorter and Megan McArdle. At this moment, however, it sure seems that the war against Islamic nihilism is not one of their top concerns. This should tell all you need to know about the "elites" supporting "Barry" Obama. They live in their own little yuppie world. This may be especially true of Mr. McWhorter.
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  #13  
Old 03-03-2008, 07:56 PM
David Thomson David Thomson is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

"I am of the opinion that terrorism is not an existential threat to the US"

Please keep talking. Karl Rove must be paying you a huge sum of money. "Barry" Obama most assuredly does not need friends like you.
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  #14  
Old 03-03-2008, 08:09 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

David:

You're not making a whole lot of sense.

First, why would Karl Rove be happy with my attitude regarding terrorism as an overblown threat? Wouldn't he rather have me talking like you? After all, that's how he advised Bush and Congressional Republicans to run -- all terrorism hype, all the time.

Second, why do you keep saying "Islamic nihilism?" As I understand nihilism, it is an attitude that says nothing is knowable and that life has no purpose. While I don't agree with anything religious fundamentalist believe in, it seems to me that what they do believe in is the exact opposite of this -- they believe they are doing what God wants them to do, and that is the reason for their existence.
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  #15  
Old 03-04-2008, 08:58 PM
bkjazfan bkjazfan is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Where does this "Barry" come from? Is that what his friends call him? This is the first time I've seen him referred to as "Barry."
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  #16  
Old 03-04-2008, 09:08 AM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjkeefe View Post
David:

I doubt I'll budge you out of your thinking, but for the record, here's my new favorite bumper sticker:

Hope Kicks Fear's Ass
For my own health, I pray that this bumper sticker doesn't catch on. Is it possible to go blind from excessive rolling of the eyes?

UPDATE: I see that the Hitch has a new Slate column up lambasting the inanity of using words and phrases like "hope," "change," and "yes we can!" in political campaigns. http://www.slate.com/id/2185606/

Favorite line:

Quote:
Take "Yes We Can," for example. It's the sort of thing parents might chant encouragingly to a child slow on the potty-training uptake.

Last edited by Thus Spoke Elvis; 03-04-2008 at 09:20 AM..
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  #17  
Old 03-04-2008, 11:13 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Elvis:

If the slogans were all there were, I'd agree with you. After all, we have been suffering through two terms of an administration that seemed to generate little else; e.g., "Compassionate Conservative," "Uniter, Not a Divider," "Stay The Course," "No Child Left Behind," "You're Either With Us Or You're Against Us," "Healthy Forests," "Clear Skies," "When the Iraqis Stand Up, We'll Stand Down," "If we don't do [X], the terrorists win," etc., etc., ad nauseum.

So, I understand your cynicism.

However, it seems to me that Obama also has substantive policy proposals, if you're interested. Just because he's smart enough to realize that a big crowd doesn't want to hear a speech filled with nine-point plans and wonkish details is no reason to assume he has none to offer. It's a question of timing and of recognizing the audience.

The first thing this country needs, in order to turn around, is its citizens feeling like there is a reason to make an effort, a reason to believe that others will be there with them, and a reason to expect that their efforts will pay off. Nothing long with a little good old fashioned revivalist-style chanting to boost the spirits. Think of it as the birds singing at the first sign of spring, after a long, hard winter. We'll get to actual nest-building, food gathering, and egg-laying soon enough.

Yes We Will.
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  #18  
Old 03-04-2008, 12:21 PM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

I don't think Obama lacks substance. He does have lots of policy proposals that are available at his website, and he'll talk about them when asked.

But I think that his campaign message and his appeal to many (thought not all) of his supporters is largely substanceless [see here for a notable example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGeu_4Ekx-o]. That's hardly unique to Obama campaign -- you see this in almost every major election. But the dewy-eyed reaction that many Obama supporters have to his vacuous statements strikes me as particularly fervent and pathetic.
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  #19  
Old 03-04-2008, 12:58 PM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thus Spoke Elvis View Post
That's hardly unique to Obama campaign -- you see this in almost every major election. But the dewy-eyed reaction that many Obama supporters have to his vacuous statements strikes me as particularly fervent and pathetic.
Would you argue that it was any more pathetic than the reactions we saw in Bush's Potemkin-village audiences in the last Presidential election? (And what about Midge Decter on Rumsfeld and some of the Hagiography we heard from people like Frum and Gerson regarding Bush?) Bush's message was also, not merely contentless, but frequently positively deceptive -- implying that Iraq was part of the "war on terror" and that those who thought terrorism should be approached in a different way just didn't recognize the danger of terrorism.

I'm an Obama supporter myself. I find most of the plans I've read about quite cleverly designed and worthwhile in their goals. But apart from any such reading, I am impressed with the thoughtfulness and intelligence of what he says even when he is not giving a big speech. I see no reason to think even his less informed readers are simply blind to these factors, which are a big part of my reason for favoring him.
And then, if some of his supporters seem a bit too worshipful, is that supposed to discourage me from voting for the person I think would be best?
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  #20  
Old 03-04-2008, 01:02 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

QUOTE=Thus Spoke Elvis; "I don't think Obama lacks substance. He does have lots of policy proposals that are available at his website, and he'll talk about them when asked.

But I think that his campaign message and his appeal to many (thought not all) of his supporters is largely substanceless [see here for a notable example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGeu_4Ekx-o]. That's hardly unique to Obama campaign -- you see this in almost every major election. But the dewy-eyed reaction that many Obama supporters have to his vacuous statements strikes me as particularly fervent and pathetic".

Elvis:
So are you irked because otherwise intelligent fellow citizens are treating a presidential nomination like a high school popularity contest? Would you propose to disallow the power of rhetoric and persuasion? Free speech is a bitch when you do not agree with the results. If you are inclined to vote, wouldn't you make your informed choice based on factors other than the perceived response of the charmed crowds? Can you offer a case on the merits for dismissing Senator Obama as a worthy candidate?
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  #21  
Old 03-04-2008, 02:38 PM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Let me clarify...

I don't want a majority of the people I usually debate in these forums to think I'm speaking ill of them, so I'll try to summarize my position the best I can.

1.) I think Barrack Obama is a likeable and intelligent guy, and he has substantive policy positions that are, for the most part, well thought-out. I disagree with many of those positions (which is why I probably won't vote for him), but I recognize that many people support them for valid reasons.

2.) Many people, including most who visit bloggingheads I'd imagine, support Obama primarily because they agree with him on the issues. The other aspects of his appeal (e.g., his speeches, his background) may be contributing factors, but they are not determinative.

3.) For many voters and pundits (e.g., Ezra, Sullivan, Matthews), however, Obama's position on issues appears less important than what the man himself represents. He is appealing to them first and foremost because of his life story and his speeches.

4.) It's not Obama's stance on health care or tax policy that's drawing the crowds or the applause lines, it's how he speaks generically about how we can make a difference. Speeches and slogans that appeal to idealistic notions of working together to make the world better leave me cold, and I can't understand how grown people can actually be inspired or moved to tears by these platitudes. Ezra Klein's famous post on the meaning of Obama's candidacy exemplifies the attitude that I find nauseating and all too prevalent.

In sum, I have a lot less problems with Obama himself than I have with some of his supporters.

Last edited by Thus Spoke Elvis; 03-04-2008 at 02:46 PM..
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  #22  
Old 03-04-2008, 03:05 PM
Eastwest Eastwest is offline
 
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Default On "Hope Kicks Fear's Ass"

Well, I think to really get my point about the gullibility of the kids and the very grim downstream effects, please indulge me by watching both of these short videos in precisely this order, all the way to their ends:

1) http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=ghSJsEVf0pU

2) http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=EdM8PDu6VMg

This is the mindset which leads the press in general (a few minor exceptions, which themselves, don't really do much more than check the oil and tire pressure).

EW
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  #23  
Old 03-04-2008, 03:14 PM
graz graz is offline
 
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Default Re: Let me clarify...

Elvis:
Quote: I don't want a majority of the people I usually debate in these forums to think I'm speaking ill of them, so I'll try to summarize my position the best I can.

1.) I think Barrack Obama is a likeable and intelligent guy, and he has substantive policy positions that are, for the most part, well thought-out. I disagree with many of those positions (which is why I probably won't vote for him), but I recognize that many people support them for valid reasons.

2.) Many people, including most who visit bloggingheads I'd imagine, support Obama primarily because they agree with him on the issues. The other aspects of his appeal (e.g., his speeches, his background) may be contributing factors, but they are not determinative.

3.) For many voters and pundits (e.g., Ezra, Sullivan, Matthews), however, Obama's position on issues appears less important than what the man himself represents. He is appealing to them first and foremost because of his life story and his speeches.

4.) It's not Obama's stance on health care or tax policy that's drawing the crowds or the applause lines, it's how he speaks generically about how we can make a difference. Speeches and slogans that appeal to idealistic notions of working together to make the world better leave me cold, and I can't understand how grown people can actually be inspired or moved to tears by these platitudes. Ezra Klein's famous post on the meaning of Obama's candidacy exemplifies the attitude that I find nauseating and all too prevalent.

In sum, I have a lot less problems with Obama himself than I have with some of his supporters".

I would refer you back to your original post about the value of McWhorter and linguistics in general. In the Booknotes interview he makes a case for why he would support Obama. If I might summarize: He believes that the value of having a generation of Americans raised with the image and reality of a Black President and First Family in the White House and on the world stage is a wedge issue that could trump for him any of the policy distinctions that either of the alternative candidates offer. I would certainly view this as a bonus. He also addresses in much the same vein as Brendan and Bloggin the necessity and rationale for the style of rhetoric that Obama has offered on the campaign trail.
I don't expect to sway your inclination in regard to policy, but I think you might be less cynical and dissapointed with his appeal to "the dewey-eyed" if you just allowed for the applied linguistic principles that McWhorter offers.

Just because it feels good, doesn't make it foolish.
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  #24  
Old 03-04-2008, 04:00 PM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Re: Let me clarify...

Quote:
Originally Posted by graz View Post
I would refer you back to your original post about the value of McWhorter and linguistics in general. In the Booknotes interview he makes a case for why he would support Obama. If I might summarize: He believes that the value of having a generation of Americans raised with the image and reality of a Black President and First Family in the White House and on the world stage is a wedge issue that could trump for him any of the policy distinctions that either of the alternative candidates offer.
I understand the argument, and certainly see the appeal. But it rests on an assumption that people will like an Obama presidency, and that will make people abandon their racial hang-ups. But what happens if Obama is a bad President? Would that not reenforce negative racial attitudes about the capabilities of blacks, the effectiveness of racial preferences, etc.? Between Iraq, terrorism, and the precarious state of the economy, there's certainly going to be lots of opportunities for the next president to fail miserably.

A lot of the more abstract arguments in favor of an Obama presidency remind me of positions taken in the lead-up to the Iraq war (e.g., removing Saddam will set of a secular democratic movement in Iraq and throughout the Middle East). Many of these arguments are premised on the best-case scenario, and fail to take into account the very real possibility that things will not go as planned.
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  #25  
Old 03-04-2008, 04:47 PM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: Let me clarify...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thus Spoke Elvis View Post
.... But what happens if Obama is a bad President? Would that not reenforce negative racial attitudes about the capabilities of blacks, the effectiveness of racial preferences, etc.? Between Iraq, terrorism, and the precarious state of the economy, there's certainly going to be lots of opportunities for the next president to fail miserably.
I don't really buy that. First, if he does a rotten job, I don't think it will be imputed to his race by most people. Obama's inexperience would be the most likely explanation. The stereotype about black people is that they are lazy and unintelligent. NO WAY anyone but die-hard racists attribute these qualities to Obama.
Second, even if he's just a mediocre president, he still sets a precedent, still makes it possible for people to get comfortable with the idea. Race will be that much less of a factor when choosing between the next mediocre white and mediocre black candidates.
And finally, if he gets elected, even if he doesn't do all that well, he'll be a demonstration to young black people that this country is maybe not so stacked against them at this point after all. If, as McWhorter and Obama both say in different ways, the sense of grievance and of the hopelessness of making a big effort is part of what stands in the way of young black people, then Obama's election ought to help with that, even if he turns out to be another Jimmy Carter. If young black people won't listen to lectures from whites, and if whites can't deliver the lectures for fear of being racist, and if, as conservatives maintain, black people need to start pulling harder at their own bootstraps, then Obama is capable of delivering the message in a way that's hard to dismiss.
It's true that Iraq did require the equivalent of rolling boxcars six times in a row if it was going to have the desired effect (especially given how little planning was done for the occupation). The difference here is that Obama only needs to turn in a fairly ordinary performance as president to achieve these results. Of course, if I thought Clinton would make a much better president, I'd put that aside (and I'd rejoice that we were electing our first woman president), but I don't think so.
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  #26  
Old 03-04-2008, 05:35 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Will this admission ruin JMW's electability??

http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs...2&out=00:21:05

Last edited by uncle ebeneezer; 03-04-2008 at 05:37 PM..
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  #27  
Old 03-05-2008, 09:21 AM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Re: Let me clarify...

I agree that the potential benefits for race relations springing from an Obama presidency are more significant than the potential negative effects. But those negative effects shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.

Of course you're right that an ineffective and unpopular Obama presidency won't cause many whites to unequivocally believe that a black man isn't capable of doing the work that a white man can do. I think the reaction would be more subtle but also more pervasive. I can imagine many whites referring to Obama as our first "Affirmative Action" President -- meaning that he was a guy who had a skimpy resume that got chosen for a job over better-qualified people, and then ended up over his head. That, in turn, could reenforce prejudices and preconceptions many whites have about blacks in white-collar jobs or prestigious academic institutions. As much as we wish that people wouldn't make such inferences from a failed Obama presidency, I'm afraid that many would.

It's tempting to take Obama's race into account when deciding who to vote for, because the potential effects that a successful (half-) black president would have on race relations are very appealing. But if we accept that his race matters and make this a factor in our voting preference, we also have to consider the possible negative racial consequences that would come from an unpopular Obama presidency. That's a big reason why I try to ignore the racial implications of an Obama presidency completely.
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  #28  
Old 03-04-2008, 04:09 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Let me clarify...

Elvis, i sympathize with your view. I hate bandwagons too, especially when I feel like the majority of people are oblivious to the part of whatever person or phenomenon that "matters" IMO.

Some of the bands I love, have huge, devoted almost cult-like followings (Tool & Phish r.i.p. for example). When I go to their shows I see thousands of people who are there for all the wrong reasons. They're there to be seen, or be trendy, or to do drugs or whatever and many times are completely ignorant of the artistic brilliance that attracted me. However, at the end of the day I'm glad those bands made it onto that stage so that I could see them. And as much as the sheep might annoy me, it is their willingness to pay $ on said band's cd's and merchandise etc., that helped to get them there. So I can either wallow in misery about the ignorant masses, or just enjoy the show. It's a pretty easy decision for me.

Another analogy is George Clooney who once said that he does those stupid romantic blockbuster movies because it puts him into the position to do the things that he cares about: Michael Clayton, Syriana, Good Night Good Luck etc. To me, Obama's "inspiring" speeches (which I DO find inspiring, sue me) are just part of the game to get him to the important stuff.

So much of politics, the way the media covers it of it and the way it is digested by the masses is based on utter bull-shit, and always has been, that it surprises me that people want to spend so much time talking about it as if it's a new development. Just ask Al Gore about the media's obsession with the inane.

If you, or EW or whoever has policy differences with Obama, then that's what is important, and while many of us may disagree, we certainly enjoy looking at things from a different perspective and like to read your differences.

But so far, the most criticisms I read of Obama are either that he's a.) too inexperienced and b.) that he's essentially TOO popular, charismatic, speaks well etc. As several others have mentioned before, rhetoric, and ability to inspire people are both factors that matter to voters. Sometimes more than I think is appropriate, but I have a hard time kncoking someone because their good at playing that aspect of the electoral game.

PS Ezra has written quite a bit about Obama's policy differences, and has never seemed like an Obama-bot at all. In fact, he pretty stridently favored Edwards through most of the primary campaign. Matthews, might as well be Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight) as far as I'm concerned. He fawns over everything that is bright and shiny. Just watch him the next time McCain is on. Christ, I think he gets a kickback everytime he uses the word Maverick.

Cheers-- UE
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  #29  
Old 03-04-2008, 01:20 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Elvis:

I'm glad that you acknowledge the candidate himself is not without substance.

As for the rest, I'm sorry the groundswell of emotion in response to Obama leaves you feeling cold. As one who is usually a card-carrying cynic, I can certainly sympathize with that reaction. I can't say exactly why I've dropped my cynic's credentials this time around. Maybe it just feels right for once. Maybe things are just so crappy with our political system and our image around the world that it's time to take a chance on the idea that if enough people feel confidence in something good, they can make it happen.

More pragmatically, I don't care if some of Obama's supporters like him only for, say, his presence on stage. You can't govern if you don't win. I'll take support based on less political sophistication than I might prefer. For many of the people who like him, who bug you, the options are: (1) get out and vote for Obama or (2) keep up the apathetic attitude and stay at home. And, in any case, people always like a candidate for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with rationality. A drawback of democracy, but that's our system.

(And speaking of lack of rationality, I hope you're not basing too much of your doubt on one person's bad moment before the cameras, just because he couldn't name what many others have no problem listing.)

I myself want Obama to win just on the merits -- compared to the other two choices, there's no contest. It's a choice between two known quantities who offer nothing more than the same old same old, and one candidate who at least offers the chance of something new. If he can make a crowd feel positively energized and committed to boot, that's just gravy to me.
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  #30  
Old 03-04-2008, 02:05 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Brendan, I know why you've dropped your cynical stance. You're a baller!! As Charles Barkeley says, it's all about matchups in the playoffs. And the same can be said of politics. You understand that Obama actually matches up against McCain better than Hillary would. He can differentiate his record and his goals a little better than Hillary can. And he can steal some of McCain's independent base better than Hillary can.

I think that if Hillary wins OH and TX today and makes it close, then the only fair way to settle it would be a game of one-on-one. How cool would it be to finally have a President that can dunk? (allegedly)
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  #31  
Old 03-04-2008, 02:30 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

uncle eb:

Good call. You might be right.

I did hear a rumor that if Obama wins, he'll install a basketball court in the White House. Just another solid reason to vote for him, in my book.

Think about it. What other sport invented in America has had more international appeal? Even in his peripheral interests, Obama's got the best instincts for reaching out to the rest of the world.

McCain, undoubtedly, is a football fan; i.e., all war, all the time. Clinton? I would be amazed if she actually liked any sports. Maybe fencing.
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  #32  
Old 03-04-2008, 12:04 PM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Since I've always been of the party of nuance and qualification -- a party that in the 2004 election, the Republicans identified as the Democratic Party -- I've never been very fond of bumper stickers. They struck me as necessarily simple-minded.

But tell me, would you urge the Republicans (or any party you supported) to unilaterally disarm -- give up slogans and bumper stickers? Or would you have them produce paragraph-long bumper stickers with plenty of space for caveats and footnotes?

Short statements of purpose are necessary everywhere: Philosophers are fond of caveats and highly individualistic descriptions fo their positions, but they still need to use shorthand and indicate broad areas of agreement and disagreement: e.g., "compatibilism/incompatibilism", "dualism/materialism", "naturalism/supernaturalism" etc.
Given that we need to be able to sum a position up in a few words, and given that doing this helps to indicate with whom our disagreements are more and less profound, it seems that we can't just reject all slogans. Instead, we need to distinguish between good slogans and bad slogans.

One criticism of a slogan is emotive: it doesn't move people. The other kind of criticism is intellectual: it's empty or deceptive. Given what I said above, we can't just reject all slogans as empty and deceptive -- we need to find reasonable distinctions among slogans.
I'd suggest the following:

1) A slogan should be a summary of a more fully spelled out position, not a substitute for it, and

2) It should not (unlike the "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests" of the Bush Administration) be more of a distortion of the fuller policy than its short form requires.

By these standards, I don't find Obama's slogans all that objectionable. Take the "Change" slogan. When it comes down to it, the public does not have the ability to directly vote for policies. Ultimately, elections come down to the question whether you feel the party in power is doing well enough to be rewarded with another term, or whether you want to try something different and possibly even punish that party for mismanagement. Recall Reagan's "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
Individuals may have any number of idiosyncratic theories about what the party in power has done right or wrong and they may not agree on the specifics. Whether people agree on these theories or not, the issue of the election is ultimately whether enough people agree that the leadership needs to be changed. In this election, many, many people agree that it needs to be changed -- both because there's a sense that our leaders are taking us in the wrong direction and would continue to do so, and because many people feel that they shouldn't be rewarded for past mistakes.

The invocation of "Hope" also goes back to Reagan -- think of "Morning in America." The context in the current campaign is GWB's relentless use of the politics of fear -- playing with the threat index in 2004, associating Democrats with Osama bin Laden and so on. Obama senses that people are sick of this kind of approach and he's suggesting that he would take something like the approach that the pundits THOUGHT GWB should adopt in the wake of his controversial election/appointment and in the wake of 9/11: seek national unity.
In the context of Obama's other moves, this doesn't strike me as deceptive. He recently floated the idea of putting Republicans (specifically Chuck Hagel) in his cabinet.

Slogans are necessarily going to rely a lot on context. In the context, the slogans we're talking about are not really all that empty -- nor is it clear that they are deceptive.

Both Clinton and Obama, I will say, are pretty clearly "demagoguing" the NAFTA issue in Ohio. They may well renegotiate NAFTA and insert more labor protections, but both know perfectly well that these will be insignificant.
If Clinton were more honest about this than Obama, that would give her points in my book. But neither (probably rightly) feels they can get away with honesty here. McCain gets some points for honesty here, but a) the pressure is not as strong on him because he's a Republican and he's already sewed up the nomination, and b) I'm far more concerned about repudiating the Bush legacy as completely as possible and c) I'm sure I would prefer Democratic policies on balance to McCain's policies.
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  #33  
Old 03-04-2008, 12:50 PM
Thus Spoke Elvis Thus Spoke Elvis is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Noggin',

I understand the purpose and necessity of slogans, and consider them a necessary evil. I think your explanation of what makes a slogan acceptable is spot-on.

Of course, some slogans are more annoying than others. A factor in one's annoyance level is the type of people to whom the slogan panders. On a personal level, I have a greater bias against do-gooders than jingoists. I'm less bothered by a person waving his fist in the air when a politician says "We'll hunt them down" than when I see a grown man tear up when a politician says "Working together, we can make the world a better place."

If I saw someone with a bumper sticker that said "Hope Kicks Fear's Ass," my immediate reaction would be "God, what a pussy." (I'm assuming that Mickey made that word safe for bloggingheads).

Again, our reaction to slogans and bumper stickers is entirely based on our personal biases and peeves. What I find annoying is not the same as what others do, etc.
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  #34  
Old 03-04-2008, 01:23 PM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Quote:
I'm less bothered by a person waving his fist in the air when a politician says "We'll hunt them down" than when I see a grown man tear up when a politician says "Working together, we can make the world a better place."
Hmmm. I'm more afraid of jingoists -- or rather tribalists. The do-gooders can certainly become tribalists: "if you're not with us in our program to make the world a better place, then you're against us, and if you're against us, then you're evil, and if you're evil, you don't even count as a human being..."

The Manichaean temptation is neither left nor right, and it's dangerous. "Pussies" or lame-brained idealists might be ridiculous and annoying, but they aren't that dangerous (unless they actually get into a position of power).

Concerning Obama's speeches, I think it's really only a very selective view that can make them seem contentless. They generally don't get into the weeds of policy implementation, but they do talk about goals -- problems he would like to solve. Nor does he always just tell people what they want to hear. He told black congregations that they should extend their Christian attitudes to gay people. He told black audiences that they need to work hard to make sure their children do well in school -- turn off the TV, help with homework, even get help from the teacher if they don't understand the homework. He told teachers he'd look into merit pay and that he was favorably inclined toward charter schools.
It isn't unreasonable to talk more about goals to the voters than about the details of how one will achieve these goals -- most voters are, fortunately or unfortunately, willing to leave that to the candidate. They'll judge on success or failure later. I admit it could help to know how he'll prioritize his goals, but I suspect we'll get clearer on that during the general election. Right now, I'd expect healthcare and Iraq to be at the top of the list.
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  #35  
Old 03-04-2008, 02:31 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

Elvis:

Quote:
I'm less bothered by a person waving his fist in the air when a politician says "We'll hunt them down" than when I see a grown man tear up when a politician says "Working together, we can make the world a better place."
Bloggin has already noted this line of yours, but I do want to add one thing: That statement, to me, summarizes the bad part of the American psyche, and more particularly, it encapsulates everything I hate about the Bush Administration and the way Republicans have lately tried to appeal to voters. So, as abhorrent as I find this feeling of yours, I'll give you points for pithiness.

Quote:
If I saw someone with a bumper sticker that said "Hope Kicks Fear's Ass," my immediate reaction would be "God, what a pussy."
I dunno. Cowering under one's bed, where the Republicans never stop urging Americans to go, hardly seems the hallmark of courage. An attitude of hope may occasionally be excessively idealistic, but it is never timid.
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  #36  
Old 03-05-2008, 04:03 PM
eric eric is offline
 
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Default Re: The McDiavlog

I found it funny when Megan and McWhorter noted that they received both benefits and disadvantages from their gender/race, is if that said something really profound about their life seen from their unique perspective.

We are all unique! As if people don't make snap judgments, dismissive remarks, about the Beaver Cleavers of the world. I have never met someone who didn't feel like they were a bit 'different' in some important way, no matter how superficially mainstream they appear (after all, its not superficialities like race and sex that define our minds). It's a staple of children's fiction, coming to grips with the insecurities about being a little different than everyone else...
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  #37  
Old 03-03-2008, 07:52 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Extinction of languages

I know people have commented on Megan's lack of prep in the past, but interviewing a linguist and asking, "what's a dialect?" is like interviewing a chemist and asking, "what's a molecule?"

John is a pragmatist about the loss of languages (it's inevitable), but he also seems to underestimate the unique value of each language. It is not just a matter of vocabulary and grammar, as he seems to suggest, but much more importantly a cultural universe. What dies is absolutely irrecoverable, and it is significant to humanity.

Ask anyone who is a language orphan. Once the native speakers are gone it's impossible to capture the essence of the culture/linguistic community.

Hebrew, which John briefly discusses, is not really a recovered language. When Hebrew was "revived" it was quite clinically dead. There were zero native speakers, and there hadn't been any for many centuries. The new Israeli language that now has millions of native speakers is only roughly based on ancient Hebrew and certainly does not capture the culture of the original Hebrew speakers.

Ironically, the Jewish languages that were sacrificed for Hebrew (Yiddish and Djudeo-Espanyol (Ladino) are in disfavor in Israel and barely hanging on. (Ladino is in much graver danger than Yiddish.) An Israeli lingua franca meant the destruction of irreplacable Jewish treasures and the loss of a true understanding of Jewish experience over the last millennium.
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  #38  
Old 03-03-2008, 08:03 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: Extinction of languages

Wonderment:

Quote:
I know people have commented on Megan's lack of prep in the past, but interviewing a linguist and asking, "what's a dialect?" is like interviewing a chemist and asking, "what's a molecule?"
In fairness, it is often the case that when interviewing an expert, one asks questions simply to get the conversation started. I think it's also arguable, especially from the way that John answered the question, that there really isn't an easy answer to the question.

Quote:
John is a pragmatist about the loss of languages (it's inevitable), but he also seems to underestimate the unique value of each language. It is not just a matter of vocabulary and grammar, as he seems to suggest, but much more importantly a cultural universe. What dies is absolutely irrecoverable, and it is significant to humanity.
How so? I sort of had the same emotion as you before hearing John talk about this, and now I would find it harder to say what of significance is lost when a language dies.

Quote:
Ask anyone who is a language orphan. Once the native speakers are gone it's impossible to capture the essence of the culture/linguistic community.
But once the native speakers are gone, isn't it the case that the essences of their culture and community have also vanished?

Interesting stuff about Hebrew. Thanks for that. I will be sad if Yiddish vanishes. I find it far more euphonic, for one thing, and many of its expressions seem so evocative they're practically onomatopoeic.
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  #39  
Old 03-03-2008, 10:23 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Extinction of languages

Quote:
How so? I sort of had the same emotion as you before hearing John talk about this, and now I would find it harder to say what of significance is lost when a language dies.
Without the language (native speakers) it's impossible to experience the culture from the inside. Subjectivity is lost, much like in the death of an individual. No one else can be you.

Quote:
But once the native speakers are gone, isn't it the case that the essences of their culture and community have also vanished?
Yes, that's the point. Linguistic extinction is comparable to genocide or ethnocide, although not necessarily with an evil perpetrator.

So you can debate how important preservation is or what we should do about endangered languages, but that debate shouldn't diminish how much we value the dying language. The language has an intrinsic value, just as a biological species does or an individual human being.

John seems to accept the inevitable. Languages, he estimates, are disappearing at the rate of one every two weeks. Maybe so. But it matters when it's YOUR language. People are dying of cancer at the rate of one every few seconds. We can be very philsophical about the inevitability of that statistic, but we're deeply affected if it's our parent or child who is getting chemo.

The politics gets very tricky. There's a large population of Mixteco speakers in my community, for example. Emigration to the US is a path out of poverty for these people. But their language, which has resisted Spanish domination for 500 years, is now threatened by NAFTA. Globalization pressures are having these kinds of linguistic/cultural consequences all over the planet. The process is accelerating. What should we do?
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  #40  
Old 03-04-2008, 01:44 AM
Eastwest Eastwest is offline
 
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Default Re: Hmmm...

Hmmmm.

Can't say I blame either JM or MM for having their starry-eyed riff on the charm-filled rhetoric of Monsier Obama, but having to listen to such a long interlaced aria on the matter wore on me rather like the fingernails-on-chalkboard syndrome. Or perhaps more aptly: like watching a couple making out passionately in the middle of a church service.

Result: They both dropped at least two points on my 10-point scale of previously stratospherically high estimation for such uncritical intoxication with what finally is only rather mundane and shallow vanilla demagoguery.

Oh, well. They're young yet. What do you expect? (We can revisit this 3 years into the first McCain administration initiated in the wake of disemboweling Obama for lack of national-security credentials in the terrorist-threat-filled run-up to the general election.)

Frankly, although I hope Shelby Steele is wrong on Obama's unelectability, I think he really has a much better analysis on the psyche of the Obama mania currently diseasing the mind of the nouveau-Left.

Cheers,
Eastwest

Last edited by Eastwest; 03-04-2008 at 01:50 AM..
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