Patterico's Pontifications


The Calculus of Going to the Movies

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 11:32 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Mrs. Dunphy and I went and saw Up in the Air the other night, choosing it over other movies on the strength of its reviews and despite our opinion of its star, George Clooney. We made the same decision two years ago when we saw Michael Clayton. In fact, we so enjoyed that movie we saw it twice in the theater and later bought the DVD. Clooney is an actor of rare talent, making it a bit easier to hold one’s nose at the thought of his hard-left political views.

This raises the question I suspect many readers here ask themselves when they select which movies to see and which to avoid: How good must a given movie be before you overlook the personal loathsomeness of any of its stars or others involved in the production? For example, I expect I’ll never see another Jane Fonda movie, but this hasn’t been much of a deprivation as her most recent projects (Georgia Rule, Monster in Law) have been less than memorable. On the other hand, I’ve watched On Golden Pond countless times since its release in 1981, and it remains one my favorite movies to this day.

I recall when Julia Roberts, an actor whose work I once enjoyed, spoke disdainfully of Republicans, saying something to the effect that the word “Republican” appears in the dictionary between “reptile” and “repugnant.” I don’t think I’ve seen any of her movies since, as I’d rather not support anyone who so obviously holds me in contempt. I’ve similarly avoided Sean Penn and a handful of other outspoken lefties over the years.

And then there’s morally challenged producer Harvey Weinstein, who came out in support of child-rapist Roman Polanski after Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland. There may be an exception someday, but I doubt he’ll be taking in any more money from the Dunphy household in the future. And as much as I’ve enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s and Woody Allen’s films over the years, their decision to add their names to the petition advocating on behalf of Polanski will give me pause before I plunk down my ten or twelve bucks to see another one of their movies.

So I ask: Do you readers out there in Patterico-land make similar calculations when making decisions on how to spend your entertainment dollars? I look forward to hearing from you.

–Jack Dunphy

Dafydd Responds to “Must One ‘Intend’ to Be Racist”

Filed under: General — Dafydd @ 2:28 pm

This post is by Dafydd, not Patterico;
The distinction could never be missed:
One of us here is a master debater,
The other is a cunning linguist.

(My apologies for the stress-scansion flub in the last line; I was pressed for time.)

Since Patterico likes to see cross-blog discussions of important issues, hence his current “racism” theme, I have responded to this post by Patterico over on my own blog, Big Lizards: “Race” Face.

ObamaCare: Those awful, obstructionist… Democrats?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 1:42 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Savor. The. Irony:

A deal between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry is holding up a bipartisan amendment to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from abroad, according to a member of the Senate Democratic leadership.

The Senate has been debating the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), since Tuesday but has not held a vote, which is contributing to a stall in the floor action on healthcare reform.

But wait… there’s more:

As a result, the Senate health care debate has come to a standstill: Carper has placed a “hold” on Dorgan’s amendment and in response, Dorgan tells HuffPost, he’ll object to any other amendments being considered before he gets a vote on his.

Could it get better? Yes, it could:

Democrats from states with major drug companies strongly oppose the amendment. One of them, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), offered an alternative to address the safety concerns.

In the past, supporters of easier importation have seen similar amendments as “poison pills” — effectively neutering the proposal by requiring U.S. officials to certify in advance that imported drugs would be safe and effective. (Emphasis added.)

Doesn’t the White House — and selected Democratic Senators — realize that their obstructionism is thisclose to supporting slavery?

Throw in the story that Sen. Maj. Ldr. Reid is doing the bidding of evil insurance companies, and you have the makings of a very Frowny Friday for the netroots.


ObamaCare: Air leaking out of Reid’s trial balloon?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:51 am

[Posted by Karl]

Via The Hill:

The supposed healthcare deal cut by Harry Reid is a “non-starter,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said today.


“I think when we get the score back from CBO that it’s going to be too costly,” Nelson told Fox News Live today.

Nelson is not even among the usual “moderate” suspects waiting for a CBO score.  And Nelson is probably right.  Reid’s current trial balloon is a Kennedy retread — and Ted was not exactly focused like a laser on fiscal responsibility.  According to the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Reid’s version of ObamaCare would make the US healthcare system more expensive than if we simply did nothing — and render 20 percent of providers to Medicare’s hospital insurance program unprofitable to boot.  Going further Left is unlikely to change that analysis.

So the hissing sound you hear may be the air leaking out of Reid’s trial balloon.  Or it may be Reid himself, lashing out at the GOP for forcing to work this weekend, instead of flying off to a Saturday fundraiser in New Orleans with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Democratic consultant James Carville:

“I think that this debate has really come to a point that I’ve rarely seen in the Senate — in fact, I’ve never seen it — to have my friends on the other side of the aisle come to the floor and in some way try to embarrass or denigrate me,” Reid said, according to a transcript. “But they should understand, any events I had scheduled this weekend have been canceled. Events I had last weekend had been canceled. Four or five of them.”

Reid said he would never admonish a fellow senator for holding a fundraiser. “I would never, ever intentionally come to the floor and try to talk to somebody about having had a fundraiser and that’s why they’re trying to get out of here,” he said. About taking the weekend off, Reid added, “I thought it would be appropriate because we’ve worked pretty hard here to have a day or two off.”

Maybe Reid was being mocked because Reid started the week comparing Republicans who oppose health care reform to lawmakers who clung to the institution of slavery more than a century ago.  Given that the Senate has been working at a breakneck pace on his bill, asking for time off to raise money while cravenly accusing the GOP of obstructionism does not seem to have been a winning strategy for the majority leader.

Or the hissing sound may be the public reaction to this increasingly unpopular bill, which Reid is bent on cramming down the throats of the American people.

Update:  Majority Whip Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, claims he does not know the details of the trial balloon. A cynic might suggest he’s leaving himself room to jump out of the way of the Hindenburg, and perhaps stay in position for the top job if Reid gets ousted by Nevada voters in 2010.


Must One “Intend” To Be Racist to Say Something That Is Racist?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:03 am

Short answer: no — but the statement does have to be the product of racist thought. You should not get called a racist for a completely innocent comment that you did not intend to be racist and that has no roots in racist thought.

Beldar has an excellent comment from the last thread that is worth reproducing here in full. I will emphasize the parts I think are particularly important:

Anyone of any race who denies having ever had racist thoughts is a liar. Anyone who expects us to believe that he or she has never had racist thoughts is a fool.

From time to time — but infrequently — I have made racist statements. They’ve been the product of racist thoughts. I didn’t intend them; I was surprised when I replayed them in my mind’s eye and realized that they were, indeed, racist. They reflect something occasional within myself of which I disapprove, and that I am committed to change or, failing that, to suppress, or failing that, to promptly acknowledge and apologize for.

Identity politics — of which I profoundly disapprove, but which are universal in today’s American life and the preferred ideological mode of the Left and the Democratic Party — are most often what sparks the stereotyping that in turn leads me into racist thoughts and statements.

My acknowledgment that I have had racist thoughts or made racist statements is not equivalent, however, to my being, on a regular and thorough-going basis, “a racist.” That’s a label that needs earning before it’s applied.

Beldar makes two very important points: 1) making a racist comment does not mean you are a racist, and 2) you need not “intend” to be racist to be racist.

As for the first point, that is why I was careful to say that I was not calling R.S. McCain a racist. Some across the Internet made the claim that I had — simply by saying he had made one racist comment! — but I did not. The people who made that claim either did not read me carefully or are liars.

As to point 2), there are just a lot of instances where it just makes no sense to say you “intended” racism. Unless you’re an unabashed racist, few people “intend” racism. To use the word “intend” in that fashion is just not how normal people talk — and if you insist on talking about “intending” racism, you’re going to lose a lot of people who think just like Beldar and I do.


However, for a statement to be racist, it does have to be the product of racist thought. We can all agree that it is unacceptable to judge someone a racist for comments that are not the product of racist thought in any way.

What I think concerns a lot of conservatives is the idea that they might say something completely innocent and yet have it misconstrued as racist because of the listener’s reaction. I have never endorsed that (although people who do not understand my arguments have accused me of it) — because I have had false accusations of prejudice happen to me, more than once.

One example I can’t discuss because it relates to work — which is why I sympathize with R.S. McCain’s complaint that he could not defend himself against allegations of racism while he was at the Washington Times. I get it.

Another time, I lashed out at a blogger who, in my opinion, was creating dishonest controversies to boost traffic whenever it looked like money was running out for him. I never said a single word about his Jewish heritage, so imagine my shock when he then wrote that I was calling him a “money-grubbing Jew opportunist.” (It’s not important who the blogger is, since this is about the ideas and not the personality. If you must know, you can click the link here and keep reading. To make the irony as rich as possible, this blogger actually habitually rants and raves about this tactic of playing the group identity card — when it’s played by others.)

It is precisely this sort of invocation of one’s group status to declare oneself a martyr — in the face of a totally unprejudiced comment — that should indeed concern conservatives. Again: I get it. It’s impossible to face down false accusations of racism or anti-Semitism and not understand it.

However, I am not convinced R.S. McCain falls in that category, personally. I have read his response and am just not impressed by the argument. (Nor am I impressed by the victim status he claims. Did you know I “hijacked” the whole Internet to convene some kind of inquisition? And here I thought I was some guy with a web site criticizing a statement by some other guy with a web site! I never knew the power I had!)

I am, however, pleased that he finally addressed the issue directly, and I think it will be to his benefit to have done so. Because some will accept his argument, and others will at least see that he is no longer being evasive. Which is a good thing. Owning your own words is what bloggers should do.

And I think the entire discussion is worthwhile, because this topic is coming up more and more in this wonderful post-racial era we are enjoying with the Barack Obama presidency.

P.S. DRJ will be out the next couple of days, and I am still crushed at work, so unless Karl or Jack Dunphy comes to the rescue, this is all you’re getting out of me for a while. Feel free to bitch about the fact that I’m writing about this again — but please also understand that I am as bored by such comments as you are by the posts. Who in real life voluntarily walks into a group discussion just so they can declare the discussion stupid? Why is such a nonsensical action suddenly respectable because it’s done on the Internet??

P.P.S. Cassandra understands me well. After days of reading dozens of comments from people who don’t — and who ignore what I say — it’s a pleasure to read someone who is paying attention and understands.

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