Saturday, February 14, 2004
IF YOU’RE SO RICH, WHY AIN’T YOU SMART?:
Buried down in that piece on Duke and academic bias there’s this:
Robert Brandon, philosophy chairman, drew the ire of several students and garnered national attention when The Chronicle quoted him Tuesday as saying:
“We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire. Mill’s analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican Party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia.”
In a Thursday statement, Brandon said he received “venomous, hate-filled e-mails” in response to his comments ...
Hmm. Wonder how many of those came from Andrew Sullivan’s supposedly educated and thoughtful readers, when they weren’t autorefreshing Drudge?
In any event, the same guy has the best solution to the problem:
Brandon, however, did suggest that a larger proportion of academics might be liberal. But to change the long-term political landscape of academia, conservative Duke students who object to being taught by liberal professors should “study hard, do well in school, go on to get a Ph.D and get yourself a job teaching at a university,” he said.
But, as noted elsewhere, why should they when there’s always the prospect of going straight to a much more lucrative job at a conservative think tank where you can write five variations on the same book blasting liberal academics over the course of twenty years, between lecture tours and TV appearances?
Via Invisible Adjunct, we get the thoughts of another academic blogger, Margaret Soltan, who says that intellectual diversity is a more complex subject than conservatives like to believe:
If I may be permitted to disclose a little bit more about myself — I represent David Horowitz's worst non-diverse faculty nightmare. Registered Democrat (voted for Gore), environmental nut (belong to many conservation groups and own taunting anti-SUV bumper stickers which are supposed to be affixed to the backsides of Hummers but I’m too wimpy to do it so they sit in a drawer), tres gay-friendly (teach course in Literature of AIDS), secular, indifferent to the naughty adulterous ways of politicians. I live in a town that’s a Nuclear Free Zone and that everyone calls The People’s Republic.
In fact, though, because I’m a “conservative” in the intellectual context that matters — the context of the typical American English department — I do represent intellectual diversity. I’m a lonely anti-Deleuzian voice in the wilderness. I think students should stop reading shit like The Awakening and go back to Paradise Lost.
It’s tricky — that’s all I’m saying. Academia is a rather narrow social subculture and that ain’t gonna change. But what we should care about is the integrity of university teachers in the classroom. This is also tricky, as I’ve tried to suggest in earlier posts, because above all we should wish to protect academic freedom. Demogogues and dunces there will always be, — these are the troubles and dangers that are truly ours. We should always be thinking of ways to neutralize the damage they do. But diversity initiatives and mandates are not the way to go.
One more thing: If conservatives want to promote themselves as intellectuals, we humbly suggest, wildly enthusing over a president who wears his Yale gentlemen’s C as but the proudest of his many merit badges in anti-intellectualism is not the way to go.
posted by Sully 2/14/2004 10:40:00 PM
IRONY IS SO NOT DEAD:
It just strikes me as politically obtuse and morally troubling when someone from the South trumpets their good breeding as something morally admirable.
Correct us if we’re wrong, but isn’t this the same guy who was so insistent on excerpting The Bell Curve that half the TNR staff threatened to quit unless they got to write responses?
posted by Sully 2/14/2004 10:23:00 PM
WHY THIS EMAIL IS SUSPICIOUS, TOO:
I am bringing about a revolution in American governance and I am damn proud of it
Yup. We see that worked real well.
And yet this person says it without a touch of remorse.
posted by Sully 2/14/2004 10:20:00 PM
PUNK SULLIVAN, IF YOU CAN ...:
Readers are hereby invited to send in any reminiscences — past or present — of blatant professorial political bias in today’s academia. Not just expressions of opinion, but attempts to intimidate or exclude opposing opinions.
Would it be too much to ask for one person to try to send along one complaining that someone confronted them in a dining hall at a major Ivy League university when they objected to a beret the writer was wearing?
Ah, well, maybe someone better send in a reference to how they got screwed out of tenure under McCarthyism ...
posted by Sully 2/14/2004 10:19:00 PM
THE PURPORTED LETTER:
We remember, but could not successfully Google any reference to, a letter that appeared in the London Arab press in early 2002, supposedly Osama bin Laden’s last will and testament, lamenting the poor morale of his own forces and the superior strength of the Americans in routing al-Qaa‘idah from Afghanistan.
Hesiod, whose blog we saw it on, saw right through it and noted whose agenda it served, concluding it was disinformation.
That’s exactly why we’re skeptical of this latest letter in which Al-Qaa‘idah’s man in Iraq conveniently happens to say that Bush did everything right. All it needed was a final paragraph saying something to the effect that we must beseech Allah for a Democratic win in November, for Pete’s sake.
Anyhow, Juan Cole, better suited to the task than us, has been able to read the original and notes some oddities that raise doubts as to whether Zarqawi is the real author:
I cannot confirm that the letter was written by Zarqawi. For instance, it calls the Americans “Amrikan,” whereas in the Levant the colloquial plural is Amrikiyin. Amrikan is an Iraqi and Gulf way of referring to Americans. Likewise, the letter’s attitude to the Kurds seems strange if the author actually had trained dozens of them to fight the secular parties in Kurdistan. The letter puts the Kurdish issue on the back burner, in a way I can only suspect Zarqawi would not have. Finally, Zarqawi is said to have not finished high school, whereas this letter is extremely literate, using a high-flown vocabulary and chaste classical literary style. It would be like finding a letter purportedly written by a Mafioso who dropped out of high school that sounded like it was written by Paul Theroux.
Hmm ... sounds like all the email Sullivan gets from radical Communists who say they’re voting for Bush. Or veteran Florida lobbyists who can’t quite keep the dates of Bob Graham’s Senate and gubernatorial runs straight.
We are, however, in agreement with his conclusion that the author’s real target of hatred is the Iraqi Shi’ite population. If it is disinformation, it appears that community is the real target, not the U.S. punditariat: Back us or the Sunnis will try to kill you all.
posted by Sully 2/14/2004 10:11:00 PM
THE EMBARASSING TRUTH:
With Sullivan’s visitation books now open, he has joined the traffic rankings at N.Z. Bear.
And whaddaya know? He turns in a safe fourth behind Glenn Reynolds, looking up the tailpipes of The Daily Kos, Atrios, and Kevin Drum.
To be fair, Kevin may be getting more than his usual share of traffic lately due to his coverage of the Bush TANG flap. Indeed he and Sully might be drawing even some day when it dies down.
But the fact that he is so far behind Atrios suggests another reason for his recent attack.
(We’re down at 251, maybe not so impressive at first but more so when it puts us in the 11th percentile or so of all blogs ranked. And maybe better if the rankings were separated into political and non-political blogs).
posted by Sully 2/14/2004 08:56:00 AM
Friday, February 13, 2004
DIDN’T GET HIS OWN MEMO, DID HE?:
Andrew, if you (rightly), think the Kerry story is a violation of his privacy and something you’re not interested in, then for God’s sake don’t devote 13 separate posts in a mere 9 hours with as many links quoting emails from no less than three other people.
Christ! Talk about media oxygen!
posted by Sully 2/13/2004 12:56:00 AM
WHY WE CALL HIM THE BLOG QUEEN, AS IF THAT NEEDED ANY FURTHER EXPLANATION:
Capozzola today. Just read it. It won’t take long. The soul of succintness.
posted by Sully 2/13/2004 12:42:00 AM
Thursday, February 12, 2004
YOU CANNOT BRANDISH A WEAPON IN YOUR POCKET:
Big Media Matt over at TAPped has another point to make regarding the exact same grafs in the Rauch piece:
There’s a sleight-of-hand at work here in these two paragraphs. What’s missing is the dread imminent threat, which hawks have now taken to claiming Bush never said existed. The reason you give the cop the benefit of the doubt in the first place is that the robber is “brandish[ing] what seems to be a gun,” not just that it seems to you that he probably has a gun in his pocket. Since the threat is imminent, the cop needs to act decisively.
In the second paragraph, it’s true that there was widespread (and, in retrospect, mistaken) agreement that Saddam had some WMD, but there certainly wasn’t widespread agreement that the world needed to pull the trigger right away. Inspectors were in the country, they were dismantling what they were finding of banned weapons programs, and they were casting doubt on the assumption that the programs were as advanced as the U.S. said they were. No one was brandishing anything, and the administration’s case that war was necessary involved going far beyong anything Bush was told by the CIA and anything most of the world’s other governments believed.
posted by Sully 2/12/2004 02:10:00 PM
Jo Fish on the dreamlife of the Blog Queen:
Reading all of Sullivan today, the most consistent thread seems to be his disbelief with the current occupant of the Oval Office. He seems boths amazed and amused(?) that well, Fearless Leader is there. It’s like he thinks that a one minute before midnight last night a coked-up band of marauding Presidential-Replacement Fairys dropped in on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and replaced the man Andrew worships with an ... impostor. You know a Saddam-Like post 9/11 body double.
posted by Sully 2/12/2004 01:04:00 AM
MEME NO LONGER OPERATIVE:
The strategy is so obvious it barely rewards repeating. Al Qaeda and Qaeda-like Islamists target innocent Iraqis involved in the rebuilding of their country’s security and infrastructure. They kill dozens. Then they infiltrate and help spread rumors that it was actually some kind of bizarre plot by the Americans to kill people they need to win over. The aim is to keep the reconstruction off-kilter, fuel anti-coalition feeling and destabilize the place enough for it to be used as a base for Islamofascist revolt.
Now, see, if they’d read Kapitan von Behrbach over summer 2003, they would have known they were supposed to be being caught in this thing called “flypaper” and quailed up in despair ... but then they might not have done it.
posted by Sully 2/12/2004 01:01:00 AM
DOG BITES MAN. SORRY:
Are Bushies already so demoralized that they think the notoriously loyal Colin Powell defending the man who appointed him at a Congressional hearing constitutes news?
posted by Sully 2/12/2004 12:56:00 AM
THE DIALLO DEFENSE:
So now it’s all “hey, we thought Saddam really had all these things. We didn’t realize he was just pulling out his wallet.” It was all just an honest mistake with very fatal consequences, and we only did it because we had the best interests of the public at heart.
That, as usual, memory-holes the many stories still available in Google’s myriads about analysts complaining about political pressure to make Iraq seem as dangerous as possible, the creation of the Pentagon Office of Special Plans to filter and stovepipe intel, and of course the 16 words and the forged documents underlying them. Can the CIA honestly evaluate intelligence in this sort of world?
The president’s most trusted adviser, Mr Cheney, was at the shadow network’s sharp end. He made several trips to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to demand a more “forward-leaning” interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam.
posted by Sully 2/12/2004 12:54:00 AM
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
ANOTHER OBSESSION RETURNS, AND IS SWIFTLY DEBUNKED:
Sebastian questions the characterization of Gore’s speech as “deranged”
Maybe we’re too daft. Maybe being non-native English speakers prevents us from seeing the truly deranged nature of this rant (we speak French you know!,) but what the fuck is Sullivan’s problem here?
posted by Sully 2/11/2004 09:44:00 PM
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Every time we read some or other conservative item about bias in the media and, more importantly, academia, we really wonder what’s up. As Michael Kinsley noted some time ago, conservatives are’t exactly wont to complain about the overrepresentation of their ilk on corporate boards, so it’s hardly about ideological diversity (and if they did make it that way, conservatives, as he says, are smart enough to know they’d be embracing affirmative action).
We think, actually, that this says more about conservatives than either institution. As Fareed Zakaria notes in his review of the Frum/Perle tome An End to Evil this weekend, conservatives, particularly neoconservatives, have grown increasingly more frustrated with what they seem to see as diffuse social forces arrayed against them the more actual power they have gained (We’d say this reflects the Stalinist earth from which neoconservatism sprang, but that’s not the primary point of this post).
If we were just interested in being sarcastic, we’d tell our right-wing brethren, “Why should you care? You got what you wanted all along anyway. Leave us alone here in the ivory tower.” We’d note that, for all their bleating about how they’re the ones closer to the common folk, for being the people who used to gleefully quote God and Man at Yale author William F. Buckley’s (remember him? No, we don’t think he does either) quip that he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Cambridge phone book than the Harvard faculty, they do seem awfully ill at ease with the sort of truck-stop and diner crowd where, one takes them to believe, their ideas would be more widely shared. What’s the matter? Huh? Why do they hate America?
But it goes further than that. While campuses have always been home to the sort of radical pie-in-the-sky political ideologies and programs that one could only expect to come in a place where quite a few people are guaranteed jobs for life and relatively comfortable salaries, one of those facts of life that one would expect conservatives to accept as a fundamental truth and work around as indeed they have in practice, academia really didn’t have any inordinate influence over the practice of 20th-century liberalism until about the Kennedy administration. So it can’t be a purely Norquistian aim to drive the Volvo-and-cheese liberals out of their power base.
Rather, what we see going on here is some sort of deep-seated, sibling-rivalry–esque drive to just be loved (maybe not even, pace Auden, to be loved alone), to be installed in one’s rightful place in one’s spiritual home. A history of conservatism that looked through this psychological lens could be quite interesting. (One could, as a good liberal, almost forgive them for all this self-pitying, whiny behavior, since Lord knows liberals have done too much of the same. Almost.)
However, conservatives are living in a far worse cloud-cuckoo land than even the zaniest tenured Marxist sociology chair if they honestly believe the university world will let their making common cause with some of the most traditionally anti-intellectual forces in Western history roll like water off a duck’s back. Until they understand where people like Robert Brandon are coming from when they make admittedly ill-advised statements like that one (and we find it interesting that he is suggesting it is just the inevitable result of market demands and forces, the same ones that guarantee that players in the NBA tend to be taller than average people. Perhaps conservatives are making more inroads into academia than they realize), they will keep being reflexively outraged by them in such a way as to guarantee that they continue.
posted by Sully 2/10/2004 01:19:00 PM
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT:
Jo Fish tells Sullivan that he ought not to brag about, to say nothing of posting pictures of, his stays in sunny Southern California when he raises a lot of money from Viewers Like You on the pretext that he will be actively sitting on the other coast blogging away.
posted by Sully 2/10/2004 12:42:00 PM
Monday, February 09, 2004
“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? ANYONE? BUELLER?”:
Wonkette reports on the offline life of The Blog Queen:
Andrew Sullivan dining at CF Folks on 19th Wednesday (and, well, often — presumably before those Results the Gym workouts in his dungarees). He was at the counter, 12:30 or so, eating bean soup, reading the Post editorial page, and loudly proclaiming to proprietor/cashier Art Carlson that he was soon off to LA to tape Bill Maher’s show. Seemed disgusted that the other panelists on the show were Carol Moseley Braun and Rob Schneider. [Ed. note — probably because he's less famous than they are.] He kept looking around the place nervously — I was wondering if he was nervous about being recognized or nervous about not being recognized.
posted by Sully 2/09/2004 08:55:00 PM
ALL FOUR VILLAGE PEOPLE IN ONE ... WELL, TWO SO FAR:
What the hell is up with him and all this headgear?
What would he look like in a kaffiyeh? How long before we see him in one?
posted by Sully 2/09/2004 08:33:00 PM
THE SOUND OF SCALES FALLING FROM EYES:
We knew this extended honeymoon would eventually end, and Sullivan’s brilliant realization that the waterskis are in full flight over the shark has been duly noted by Atrios and TBogg have taken note but the (ahem) money post on this was from Hesiod, who said of the curious difference between liberals who thought Bush did OK and conservatives who are just mortified:
... [T]he Bush kool-aide drinkers are so enamored of the man, that it’s a veritable shock to their system when he gives an interview, and looks petty, confused, dishonest, incoherent and small-minded.
For us, it’s old hat. For them, it’s like finding out that the reason your little sister started dressing in black, got all those tattoos and multiple body piercings, and starting using drugs...was because the father you revered as a kid turns out to have been molesting her for over a decade.
And, earlier, Atrios reminded conservatives that Bush has always been this way, they have just been unwilling to see it.
posted by Sully 2/09/2004 08:28:00 PM
Sunday, February 08, 2004
THINGS WE FIND IN THE NEW YORK TIMES THAT NO ONE ELSE DOES:
It seems that New York’s elite Trinity School is but the latest institution to be successfully infiltrated by Islamists. How soon can Sully be on it?
posted by Sully 2/08/2004 01:28:00 AM
SOMEONE AT TNR DOESN’T LIKE HIM:
Roger Ailes takes note of a TNR Notebook item exposing the shoddy journalism of the FactCheck page on Bush’s lost years in the Texas and Alabama Air Guards:
Bush supporters might want to think twice before citing that study, which is but a slight paper showing about the level of rigorous analysis you’d expect from a White House press release ... Indeed, the only original research the Annenberg folks seem to have done is an interview with, of all people, White House spokesman Dan Bartlett, who dodges the entire question by saying that “the bottom line is he met his minimum requirements for that year.” Absurdly, the report presents this as proof that Bush never skipped town, even though Bartlett was talking about what Bush did in 1973, when what’s in question is what he did in 1972. But the report’s biggest idiocy is its premise that, just because Bush did not technically desert or go awol, the criticisms of his military record are somehow irrelevant.
Really, who writes this stuff over at Annenberg? The freshmen?
posted by Sully 2/08/2004 01:21:00 AM
ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LINK, PART INFINITY:
Andrew, if it gets under your skin that people who you don’t even know use the weblog form you have touted to the skies to call you on your errors, disingenous and sloppiness, then for heaven's sake don’t indulge yourself in the common exercise of skimming something you link to and then make an embarassingly midleading post to your blog.
Case in point: The Post article on the Clark papers (an interesting contrast, wouldn’t you say, with a guy who gets elected and serves nearly a full term as president without releasing, in full, his Air Guard records from 30 years ago?) do not at all support the contention that Clinton fired him for being a loose cannon.
A simple use of ^F to search the page on “fire” finds three uses, only one of which relates to the meaning of being terminated from a position:
But on June 10, 1999, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic — under pressure from NATO's bombardment and Russia’s withdrawal of political support — capitulated to the West’s demands for the pullout of all Serbian forces and the deployment of Western peacekeepers in Kosovo, a major and continuing NATO engagement.
That was the day Clark had privately identified as his deadline for formally recommending an escalation of the bombing campaign instead of launching a ground war involving tens of thousands of troops — a plan he knew would give Washington pause, according to the papers. “Whether they would have fired me or not, I don’t know, but it would have been pretty nasty,” he told the NATO historian, according to an interview transcript in the National Defense University’s special collections library in Washington.
That’s it. No further mention. Clark only discussed the possibility that the administration might have fired him over something that never actually happened. Had Sully done more than just casually glance through it for words that supported his preconceptions, he would never have linked to it (Of course, his hatred of Clark — who whatever else you can say about him did more to stop genocide in Kosova than Sullivan himself could be said to — is so intense here that he actually says nice things about Clinton and Gore. That’s gotta be a first).
We also should add that it is still a matter of some dispute as to whether Clinton really did fire Clark in full awareness of what he was doing or was simply deceived into signing what he thought was a routine transfer order. Clinton and his staff at the time have always insisted that it was Cohen and other generals angry at Clark’s end-runs around their more cautious battle plans by going to Tony Blair and Madeleine Albright who set him up.
Finally, how do we know for sure Sullivan looked for keywords without seeing the forest for the trees and then went and posted? Because he missed this:
Clark told the historian that he chafed during the war at having to submit individual bombing targets to the White House and the French government for approval ... He also quoted a deputy French defense minister as acknowledging that Paris rejected some of his target choices simply for the sake of “saying no.”
Or is he really that scared of giving Clark even a smidgeon of credibility on anything, no matter how much he agrees with it?
posted by Sully 2/08/2004 01:02:00 AM