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Entries from November 2010

War is Peace, Equality is Discrimination

November 22nd, 2010 · 10 Comments

One of the more noxious and predictable genres of social conservative screed takes the form of whining that the only discrimination we really need to worry about is the failure to make special accommodation for the sensibilities of bigots. Perhaps the ideal form of this particular whine was served up at the American Spectator yesterday: […]

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Tags: Religion · Sexual Politics

Word of the Day: Gerrymander

November 22nd, 2010 · 9 Comments

So, I was vaguely aware that the term “gerrymander” had come from 19th century Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, a pioneer of the fine art of redrawing political districts to entrench his party’s power.  But I’d always assumed the “mander” part was from the same Latin root as “mandate”—as in, an order or injunction of the […]

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Tags: Language and Literature

Help Me, Electronic Surveillance, You’re My Only Hope!

November 17th, 2010 · 30 Comments

Proof, if proof were needed, that whatever higher power might be steering our fates must be possessed of a perverse sense of humor: I have spent the better part of five years writing about the ways sophisticated electronic surveillance tools, in the hands of intelligence and law enforcement agencies, might pose a threat to privacy […]

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Tags: Privacy and Surveillance · Washington, DC

Patriotism as Status Socialism (or, America: F**k Yeah!)

November 4th, 2010 · 43 Comments

Michael Kinsley unloads on “American exceptionalism”: The theory that Americans are better than everybody else is endorsed by an overwhelming majority of U.S. voters and approximately 100 percent of all U.S. politicians, although there is less and less evidence to support it. A recent Yahoo poll (and I resist the obvious joke here) found that […]

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Tags: Sociology

Who Determines Your Ethnic Identity?

November 4th, 2010 · 20 Comments

Chally at Feministe expresses outrage over a story from Australia about Tarran Betterridge, a light-skinned student of Wiradjuri and Caucasian parentage who was passed over for a job with a campaign to promote Aboriginal employment because she didn’t “look indigenous” enough. The grounds for finding this offensive are clear enough: How dare any “casual bystander” […]

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Tags: Sociology

Why Kant Johnny Vote?

November 2nd, 2010 · 6 Comments

Dan Davies at Crooked Timber points out an inconsistency in a common argument for voting for a major party: The key point I want to make here is that when major party activists put the guilt-trip on supporters significantly to their left, they engage in what looks like very fallacious reasoning. The point is that […]

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Tags: Horse Race Politics · Moral Philosophy

To Four of My Favorite People

November 1st, 2010 · No Comments

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Tags: Personal