kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Free Aung San Suu Kyi

To all my friends who wish to see a free Tibet: spend a little of that energy for a free Burma.

Tibet is a complicated story, and the cynic within me recognizes that it is very likely that China will always maintain some degree of control over it. Often Tibet is seen in the West as some sort of land of innocence, a Shangri-La ruined by the meanies in the PRC. The folks running the PRC (somebody named Hu Jin Tao is one of my Facebook friends, but I don't think it's the one in charge of China; after all, Jesus is also one of my Facebook friends) may well be meanies, but it might help were we to get a better picture of what conditions for most Tibetans were before 1959. This isn't a simple story of all good vs. all evil; it should at least be noted that a "Free Tibet" isn't necessarily "Tibet Like it was Before 1959."

On the other hand, China could put an enormous amount of pressure on the Burmese junta, if only in terms of economics. The PRC likes to say such issues are "internal affairs," so we can't say anything about their own "internal affairs." But Burma's is a brutal dictatorship, violating the most basic human rights, overturning elections, jailing political prisoners, and, as we've seen in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, not giving much of a damn about its own citizens.

I think we should be hearing more about Burma, and everytime you hear someone complain about Tibet, add a complaint about Burma. If you want to put your energy into a good political cause, and one that might actually effect some change, Burma may be a better bet than Tibet.

For those interested, you can find pretty easily the PRC's view, as well as the view of the "Tibet Government in Exile," associated with the Dalai Lama. I think it useful to see both sides (and to see just how ancient the ties are between the Tibetans and the Han Chinese).

For a (lefty) view on some of this, critical of some of the views popularly put forth about the history of Tibet, you could go here:

Parenti on Tibet's Feudal Past

Friday, May 23, 2008


I think Hillary Clinton has a justified objection to the fact that she has been treated with a considerable degree of sexism; I think more—much more—from the media than from the Obama campaign, but others may differ.

I also think she made some strategic mistakes along the way: as others have pointed out, campaigning as if she were, indeed, the inevitable nominee; not paying sufficient attention to caucuses; Mark Penn and all he brought; the little Bosnia flap. I'll take Bill Clinton to have been, ultimately, a wash: helpful in many ways, not helpful in certain important ways. After Obama won 11 elections in a row, Clinton started to appear more and more desparate, exaggerating differences that may have been real but not enormous, possibly using some race-coded language, particularly in Appalachian states (PA, WVa, KY), and then coming up with more and more tenuous arguments about Michigan and Florida delegates. As someone said on TV last night, given the recent polling, she's really beating Obama in just one demographic: Women over 50. If, as this commentator continued, Obama was leading in national polls in just that one demographic--along with the other numbers--would Clinton be suggesting that it not be about time for him to drop out?

In any case, I think we thought some of these were "Hail Mary" passes, but I think we hadn't seen the real Roger Staubach version until today. My guess is that the reaction to this among Democrats and the media (if there is a difference) will result in the zesty brown product of my title. I couldn't find a good picture of a nail, being hammered into a coffin.




May 23, 2008 --

Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it," she said, dismissing calls to drop out.

Full story/video link here

Thursday, May 15, 2008


If the Cardinals had listened to me, they would have gotten rid of Edmonds a couple of years ago, and probably decided that if LaRussa was going to stay, Rolen would have to go. This, of course, would probably have meant that a) they would have freed up money to get some players, including a number 3 or 4 starter, b) Rolen would have been worth more on the market, and c) Walt Jocketty might still be in St. Louis.

Of course, since the Cardinals—especially Walt Jocketty—never listens to me (I don't blame him), he has to live in Cincinatti, we have a number 4 hitter who may hit 15 home runs this year with a .250 OPS, and are using starters like Lohse.

It's OK. The Cards win a World Series most decades (20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 80s, 00s; no one but the Yankees seemed to win one in the 50s, so that doesn't count, plus the 1926 and 1964 ones came against the Yankees), and they've got theirs already. I can wait patiently, but I would like to see them going in the right direction. If Mulder can pitch when he gets back, and Carpenter gets back, then things might look a little brighter.

But seeing Edmonds in a Cubs uniform is a little weird, I have to admit. Maybe he can start hanging out with Jason Marquis, and they can discuss how they seemed to start to go downhill as Cardinals, but—just to make sure—they became Cubs.

I wish them both well, except, of course, when playing their superior, i.e. the St. Louis National Baseball Club, inc..

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Media Coverage

Wow. Thanks to some new folks, I got a new record number of comments. That some seem not to think too highly of my cognitive abilities is irrelevant. Most of my real work focuses on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason--particularly the so-called Metaphysical Deduction--so if you really want to get after my "arguments," my book should be out (late Summer? early Fall?). Of course everyone should a) buy several copies b) tell every library he or she visits physically or electronically to buy several copies and c) tell every bookstore he or she visits physically or electronically to offer it. Personally, I think I should get on Oprah; should I hold my breath for her to put me on her show, discussing Necessity and Possibility: The Logical Structure of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason?

I use the word "tortuous" in it, by the way.

In any case, the stuff I write here is simply amateur hour. I'm not up to the rigorous standards of some of my readers, but they haven't taken me up on my invitation to guest blog.

The latest entry, which was about Ryan Lizza, Rush Limbaugh, and Jeremiah Wright's commitment to Islam, didn't seem to draw much reaction. Wright himself did, however, so I thought I'd bring out from the comments an issue, and hear what folks have to say.

At the Project for Excellence in Journalism (not to be confused with the "Excellence in Broadcasting Network"), an empirical media study found that the Wright-Obama story received in the week examined 42% of the coverage, relative to Clinton's 41%. These numbers sound more precise than they probably deserve to, so I'm willing to call it a tie at 40%.

A bit of the piece summarizes the coverage this way:

As the primary voting has slowed, the media have focused on a number of Democratic campaign controversies—from Clinton’s erroneous recollection about dodging snipers in Bosnia to Obama’s remarks about economically disadvantaged Americans being “bitter.” But none have had the staying power of the Wright flap. In the period from March 17 through May 4, the Wright-Obama story line made up 17%, or one out of six, of all the campaign stories studied. And last week saw the biggest spike yet in that coverage.

There were significant policy issues at play in last week’s Democratic campaign leading up to the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. Clinton and Obama sparred over how to handle Iran and the proposed gas-tax holiday. The issue of gas prices accounted for the second-biggest category of campaign stories last week at 7%. And the next biggest chunk of campaign coverage, at 5%, was Indiana superdelegate and former Democratic National Committee chair Joe Andrew switching his support from Clinton to Obama.

But even after combining the gas and the Andrew coverage, that is less than one-third of the attention paid last week to Wright.

This sounds a bit weird to me. I'm willing to grant that the connections between Wright and Obama deserve to be looked at, and I'm willing to listen to the criticisms of Wright that have been put forth, as well as the analysis of what this implies about Obama. That's fair: Obama himself agreed that this was a legitimate political issue.

But is it the only issue? Clinton is running for President, as is Obama. Are there other things to examine than the Wright-Obama connection? Admittedly, the policy differences between the two are pretty minor, but there are distinctions.

Apparently, others view it differently. I think there's lots to talk about other than Wright, without that implying that the Wright issue not be examined. (It would be nice, as well, if a bit more of what had been said in those scary awful sermons was brought into the discussion; this was one of the advantages of Bill Moyers's interview with Wright, but wasn't the model generally followed. The simple question is this: given either the views found in Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, or Luke in the sequel, consider some of the actions of the United States and its citizens. Does God bless all of them? None of them? Some of them?)

So I'll leave it as an open question: is this an appropriate way to proportion the media coverage of Wright, of Obama, of Wright and Obama, and of Clinton? (And for those who are so inspired, the invitation to guest blog remains open.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

An invitation

I have plenty to write about here, including Jeremiah "1% Wrong Trumps 99% Right" Wright, Barack "Hello, Grandma?" Obama, Hillary "God Bless the Rich" Clinton, John "You Wanna See Flip Flopping? I'll Show You Flip Flopping!" McCain, and many others.

Such as an old Ryan Lizza piece in The New Republic, referring to Jeremiah Wright as a "former Muslim." That was all that was said, but of course it was picked up by some folks on the Web, and is proudly on display at Rush Limbaugh's Website. Rush claims to have done a great deal of research on all of this, but there is very little evidence—actually there are two words—to support this claim, which is then extensively discussed by the EIB Genius. It almost goes without saying that in this context, "Muslim" is used, more or less, as a synonym for either "terrorist" or "terrorist sympathizer." Sad; no one seems interested in challenging El Rushbo on the evident falsehood of the claim or the smearing of Muslims in general. Perhaps we're feeling sympathy for Oxycontin withdrawal.

I believe this is the kind of thing that causes Keith Olbermann to refer to this man as "comedian Rush Limbaugh": to wit

I ran across something last night. I've not seen this anywhere else. I did as much as I could to verify this. Ryan Lizza in the New Republic, a year ago, long story at the New Republic on their website. If you print it out, it's nine pages long.

Both parts of his brain tied behind his back

It might be worth noting that while the article is nine pages long, in spite of Rush's implication, exactly two words have anything to do with the Muslim remark. It would be most entertaining to determine what the Cape Girardeau Crapola Factory means by "I did as much as I could to verify this." I think it means "I did bupkus." And it seems not to be anywhere else, in that Lizza evidently just made it up, and in that the claim seems to be, well, goshdarnit, false.

The sad thing is that either Lizza doesn't know about this, or doesn't care. I couldn't find his e-mail address at his current employer, The New Yorker, and that's about where I lost the will.


In any case, I thought if someone (my reader) would be interested in chiming in here on whatever topic he or she wishes to, I'd open this up to a guest blogger or two. You don't have to write about baseball, but you should know that as I write this—and it may be the last time I can do so in 2008—the magnificent National League Baseball Club of St. Louis, incorporated is in first place in the National League Central Division.

If interested and you know my address, e-mail me. If interested and you don't know my address, leave a comment. If not interested, what in the hell are you doing still reading this?