Tuesday, March 21, 2006

not the fashion issue, more gerson, mayer on mora, political science

Except for the mail. Two letters about not buying that Gerson thing.

One letter about Jane Mayer's profile-investigation of Alberto Mora's opposition to torture policy. It didn't occur to me as I read these pieces, and I only posted on the Gerson thing, that they were both profiles of powerful conservatives. If that's the new big thing in the New Yorker, they should all be as good as Mayer on Mora, which was detailed, disturbing and interesting.

So if you are as bored with the fashion issue as I am, go read that article, in the Feb 27th issue.

I also found that I'm not interested in posting on the Political Science article from March 13, also good. When I looked for it, after Mantooth's reccommendation I found that my partner in crime (science nerd that he is) had read it and engaged me in a long discussion of it that I'd forgotten all about. So I'm pretty spent on that topic.

Except to say this; it's articles like this that make me feel like I am the clueless liberal that lost the last election because I don't know about the ideological imporance of conservative moral values. When my partner in crime began his discussion of the article with the example of the Bush admin opposition to a cervical cancer vaccine, I argued that there MUST be a material reason the admin opposed it, there was some profit motive somewhere, they had something material to gain. But the article emphasized the relation of this opposition to a vaccine to the opposition to an AIDS vaccine (which seems a plausibly right-wing ideological move) to the whole abstinence as contraception argument to a larger disregard for science, including the whole creationism thing. And this disregard for science is, at bottom, ideological and not materially motivated? Well, if you say so.

And I shouldn't be so skeptical. I knew people once upon a time (7th grade life science, it was) who did not believe in the theory of evolution. BUT THEY WERE MIDDLE SCHOOLERS. I guess I just assumed people grew out of it. But now that I think if of it this same girl was not in my 9th grade bio or 12th grade AP bio so what happened to her? Did she stop taking classes that challenged her beliefs? Was she tracked out of college-prep science? If I were prone to Gladwell type theories, I'd say it was high school tracking that isolated liberals and conservatives in this country.


The other thing that both the Mora and Political Science articles made me think of was this. Look in the background at that visual representation of the Nixon administration resignations. I wanted to make one of these for myself, but it would be like the size and complexity of a Morman family tree. (Note: This is not necessarily a polygamy joke, but it could be.)

This is a Teenie Harris photo, Teenie Harris was the photographer for the black newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier in the middle of the 20th century. And that is the short story. The Carnegie Museum of Art is doing an amazing archive project, with Pittsburghers identifying the places and figures in the photos. Check it out.

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Blogger EL said...

I'm with you on being a clueless liberal who doesn't get moral values when it comes to things like the HPV vaccine. Or when it comes to condom distribution and such. This whole risking of people's lives so that they don't have unmarried sex ... is unmarried sex that bad? I guess it is.

I do have to tell you on the Malcolm Gladwell-style argument (that tracking separates the progs from the cons)- that must be a regional thing. I was always in top classes, but in Colorado Springs, there was never a dearth of conservatives. In fact, I had to deck one in an AP class for being such an asshat about Reaganomics.

2:09 PM  
Blogger zp said...

Brad: Aren't you feeling the slightest bit disinhibited, Betty?
Betty: Of course I am, but we can't! I might get cervical cancer!

But I want to be clear it's not just that I don't believe or agree with the logic, it's that I have a hard time believing that anyone in power actually has beliefs that motivate this kind of policy. I always suspect that they are just cloaking material interests behind their beliefs. But it's articles like this Political Science one that make me feel like, no, there isn't any particular material motivation, it's just ideology. Are these things just sops to the religious right by the "raw reality" republicans - tax cuts and deficits, torture and agressive interventions, oil money and big business . . . or are the two really, somehow, intimately the same?

I tend to make the split that Herzberg does, in the March 13 "Talk" Veep Doo-Doo (that's where the raw reality list, above, comes from), between the face of the party, in the blank mug of the prez, and the machinations, here represented by Cheney. But maybe that's just too simplistic.

11:03 AM  

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