Saturday, August 9, 2008

What went wrong

I've gently tweaked Andrew Sullivan a few times in this space (and not-so-gently blasted him in emails back & forth w/ a friend of mine). I read his stuff for the same reason I read George Will--he's usually wrong, but often in an interesting or thought-provoking way. And he occasionally goes completely off the rails, as in his latest contest, "Let's protest all the negative campaign ads by making our own negative campaign ads."

But when he's right, he's spot-on:

A critical part of what's gone wrong these past few years has been the tendency of a war president to bully opponents, distort their meaning, use base emotional appeals when we need far more rational discussion about how to counter a very complex, terrifying Islamist threat. The kind of campaigns Rove ran in 2002, 2004 and 2006 made all this far harder. It reduced important debates about priorities in the war, detention and interrogation policies, the wisdom of long-term enmeshment in the Middle East, the difficulties of securing loose nukes, the excruciatingly difficult calls on which allies to trust and how - into dumb-ass contests about who is the biggest bad-ass, who is a treasonous wimp and which opponent most belongs in a French hair salon.

Some Daily Mencken

I may make this a regular feature, I'd forgotten how good some of his stuff is:

The inferior man's reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex - because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious.

--HL Mencken

Friday, August 8, 2008

Stupidity as policy

Paul Krugman has a spot-on column today on how Know-Nothingism--"the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise"--has become accepted wisdom in the GOP.

Until we get over the poisonous anti-intellectualism rampant in this country, particularly our political discourse--the idea that those who think too much or learn too much are untrustworthy and deserve nothing but contempt, that "common sense" and childlike faith will always carry us through to victory no matter what--we can't hope to clean up the mess we've made over the last 20 years. Our economy is a mess, our standing in the world in tatters, and when a candidate points out a simple low-cost way to save as much gas as offshore drilling would gain for us, he's mocked for it, even though the numbers show he's right.

Given two choices, we keep opting for the stupid one, and then wonder why things don't get better.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Consumer issues

Followup to this post.

I received this email today:

Thank you for writing Crock-Pot ; a division of Jarden Consumer Solutions.

We do apologize that you have experienced trouble with our product. I have sent out a warranty replacement Crock-Pot, to replace the unit that was defective. Also, a pre-paid shipping label will be delivered separate from your new Crock-Pot. Please place the defective unit in the box and ship it back to us, free of charge to you.

Please write back if we can provide further assistance. You may also reach us at (800) 777-5452. We are open from 8:00am to 8:00pm, EST, Monday thru Friday.

Best Regards,


Jarden Consumer Solutions

They misspelled my first name in the email, but that's a minor annoyance. But I posted a scathing review, I should also post that they responded by replacing the unit.

Now, if this one fails in the same way, I'm going to be, um, annoyed, to say the least. But they're at least making an effort.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

But he's a nice guy!

Today's Post has a nauseating op-ed. The point of it seems to be, Ted Stevens' corruption indictment is a darn shame, and we ought to all just let bygones be bygones, because after all, he's really brought home the bacon and is a nice guy when you talk to him.


This is the same entitlement mentality that argued that Scooter Libby shouldn't go to jail because, well, he shouldn't, because he's one of us. Baloney.

And the argument being made isn't the (quite legitimate) point that indictment isn't conviction, and we should avoid rushing to judgment. Rather, it seems to be, we shouldn't even ask the question, because he's one of us.

Disgusting, wrong, and a dangerous attitude.