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:: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 ::

Josh Marshal hinted at and then linked to this article in the Washington Monthley. It essentially claims that popular liber-con e-mag, TechCentral Station is wholly owned and operated by a right wing lobbying firm specializing in "astroturf organizing" (creating the illusion of grassroots/broad based support for programs or policies). Moreover, Confessore suggests that content in TCS was manipulated to meet the needs and specifications of the clients of the lobbying firm. Dan Drezner, Chicago prof and occassional TCS contributor avers he has never been censored by TCS and has even written posts their contrary to the interests of the firm's clients.

While I rarely agree with Professor Drezner, the methods and values he brings to his analyses are laudable and I have nothing but the highest confidence in his integrity as an intellectual and as a scholar. On this question, I think he thoroughly misses the boat. It is of no consequence whether his stories on TCS were manipulated. It seems to actually strengthen Confessore's condemnation if they weren't. Sounds odd but stick with me. Were TCS an unabashed mouthpiece of its corporate backers, the ideas expressed there would not enjoy the regard that they do. By mixing corporate propaganda with legitimately conceived ideas, TCS obscures the gulf extant between the two. Were I among the writers whose work was used as a stalking horse for this malfeasance, I would surely not defend them. Instead, TCS and its backers deserve to be fully condemned by thinkers of all stripes for their efforts to manipulate and cheapen the marketplace of ideas.
:: Clinton 6:23 PM [+] ::
...
Josh Marshal hinted at and then linked to this article in the Washington Monthley. It essentially claims that popular liber-con e-mag, TechCentral Station is wholly owned and operated by a right wing lobbying firm specializing in "astroturf organizing" (creating the illusion of grassroots/broad based support for programs or policies). Moreover, Confessore suggests that content in TCS was manipulated to meet the needs and specifications of the clients of the lobbying firm. Dan Drezner, Chicago prof and occassional TCS contributor avers he has never been censored by TCS and has even written posts their contrary to the interests of the firm's clients.

While I rarely agree with Professor Drezner, the methods and values he brings to his analyses are laudable and I have nothing but the highest confidence in his integrity as an intellectual and as a scholar. On this question, I think he thoroughly misses the boat. It is of no consequence whether his stories on TCS were manipulated. It seems to actually strengthen Confessore's condemnation if they weren't. Sounds odd but stick with me. Were TCS an unabashed mouthpiece of its corporate backers, the ideas expressed there would not enjoy the regard that they do. By mixing corporate propaganda with legitimately conceived ideas, TCS obscures the gulf extant between the two. Were I among the writers whose work was used as a stalking horse for this malfeasance, I would surely not defend them. Instead, TCS and its backers deserve to be fully condemned by thinkers of all stripes for their efforts to manipulate the marketplace of ideas.
:: Clinton 6:21 PM [+] ::
...
As promised below, the letter received this weekend from Carl. A few things to put the contents into context. First, Kelly and I are getting married. I meant to send out announcements (and still mean to) but am not good at such things, I always feel silly making them, so I put it off. Second, in my letter to him, I complained about a general lack of intellectual community at UNC and particularly that no students or colleagues challenged my often wrong-headed ideas.

With caveats behind, let us turn to the text. Parathetical remarks are his (I’ll indicate any additions/omissions/clarifiers with brackets). Forgive transcription errors.
begin text--
November 8th, 2003
Dear Clint;
I am writing my collective letter to my collective letter to my friends to you rather than Beth because I felt a congratulatory epistle concerning your impending nupitals [sic] was proper and fitting; besides which, I have yet to receive a copy or print of Botticelli’s Castello Annunciation from Beth to adorn my wall locker with. You wouldn’t believe how much a smattering of high culture improves life. The worst thing about Basic is there is a complete void where one would expect man to be playful and to strive towards the transcendant. Everything is mundane and stripped of any significance it has beyond its utility for killing or keeping you alive to kill. Church services are dreadful-maudlin hymns, insipid sermons and a treacly sickening cheerfulness oozes from every one of them. I would pay $75 ot listen to a Bach cantata in peace and quiet- $50 for a Buxtehude fugue, and $15 for a few hours in an armchair with Locke or Luther. Just to speak with someone who knows Faust is he who makes a deal with the devil (or better yet, recognizes the fellow from Augustine’s life) rather than the old deceiver himself would be worth a couple of brutal smokings.
Thank you for your postcard & letter. Concerning the universal obligation to perform military service-it’s all contingent upon the singular nature thereof and to wha extant one must support a government willing to betray the ideals of the society it is supposed to befit (a deliberately vague word), but which still embodies them well enough so that resistance would be neither prudent nor justified. Also, feel free to come up for graduation on Dec. 3rd. I’ll be free from 14:00 Dec. 3rd to 20:00 on Dec. 4th if you have the time, pecuniary resources, and the inclination to do so. You may ask my folks for futher information. It would be great if John and Beth could be snookered into coming down as well.
Marriage-whoa! Way to be, chief. It’s odd and a little droll to be informed of your troth-plight in the midst of so many crumbling marriages of kids. (The wives are realizing that if 9 weeks is bad, a 6 month drought would be unbearable.) I have a great many half-baked thoughts about marriage (among other things) that I’ll refrain from sharing now. Those sorts of thoughts only tend coagulate anyhow when the issue at hand becomes directly pertinant to my life.
I’m also pleased you’re enjoying the act of teaching and still take such delight in bad puns. It’s a shame the environment in which you find yourself ins’t more stimulating-sufficient to say, I have a sneaking suspician it has an edge on Basic. I hope to speak with you at some point about the relation of the social sciences to history. I expect that any differences we had in the past were mere logomachies and not over issues of substance. Folks here are not uniformly evangelical Bush backing Limbaugh fans (although many of them are), but, regardless of their political stripe, their views are invariably poorly thought out and ill-informed. Here too one peers into the minds of one’s fellow men and sees thought processes occuring only to satiate their avaricious, gluttonous, lustful, and slothful passions.

November 10th, 2003
It’s not that the other deadly sins are without their appeal, but anger, pride, and envy involve a certain spiritedness that is decidedly lacking (folks are exhausted). We just got back from a 10k road march (wearing 80lb rucks) after doing hand grenades all morning and afternoon. They are much more powerful than one may have been led to believe by the movies. People are tired and are bickering up a storm. We’ll be left alone for the rest of the evening, moreover, since tomorrow is Veterans Day we’ll just be raking leaves and mopping floors. Pretty dawggone pleasant. We need another Sunday after the cleaning we had to perform yesterday. Uffda!
I wish I could watch the Fire. It sounds as though they’re having a fairy tale season. I recall Bradley left-they must have found something of a diamond in the rough for his replacement.

November 11th, 2003
Armistice Day! Boots are shined, the wall locker’s squared away (inspection at 5p.m.), the bay is damn well near immaculate, and I’ve read enough of Kings I (or II, depending on yr. Preferred nomenclature.) We got our mop replaced by a blue phase (final) banner today- 22 days ‘til graduation. Tomorrow will be taken up issuing Class A (dress) uniforms, so that we won’t be doing real training ‘til Thursday.
There’s not really a lot to say about Basic Combat Training that I haven’t written about in this and other letters. Breakfast is the best meal-the chow is comparable to that of Woodward- a cut below Pierce, but still much better than the dross & slop purveyed in the typical high school cafeteria. We had to eat standing up (holding our trays) a few nights ago when some bonehead decided to hold his tray with one hand when serving himself at the salad bar (he was supposed to set it down.) It is less brutal than one may be led to believe from watching Full Metal Jacket, but just as course, nasty, and boring (and degrading-they love mocking the officer candidate.)
Kings I-IV is well worth reading. The ambiguities of power, nature of providence, and the problems of idolatry (the finite claiming infinite significance for itself) are probed and dealt with on a level far deeper than one one might suspect from a cursory reading. It helps to go with the KJV insofar as the archaic language is not only rolling and powerful, but forces one to slow down one’s pace. I recall Spengler correcting noting that truth is not properly ascribed to such works, but there are only different levels of depth. The previous sentence cries out for a serious expatiation in order to avoid becoming a mere wishy-washy platitude, but I’m going to eschew such an onerous labor at this time. Too many damned distractions.
I wish I knew more about graduate school-it really sounds as though you would be well served by transferring to a school with a more stimulating academic environment. While bright, you are certainly not so clever that your ideas should not be assaulted, or at least challenged. An echo chamber must become a mite tiresome. That said, your current life, especially seen from my current perspective (as do most aspects of civilian life) strikes me as both charming and pleasant. I presume you’re eating grits on a regular basis (I wish they’d serve me oatmeal instead, but this is Kentucky.)
I think that’s about it. Once again, my congratulations to both you & Kelly. Please tell everyone to refrain from sending mail after Thanksgiving, as mail typically takes four days to arrive and December 4th is the last day on which I will receive mail. Along those lines, please feel no obligation to maintain a fast & furious correspondence; write when and as much as you please.

Sincerely,
Carl Thunem

PS. Oompa, loompa, doompity doo,
I’ve got a little story for you,
You can suck a fat baby’s dick,
And lick its fat hairy lips. (Fontenot’s song-lyrics by DS Faust

P.P.S. Please forward my gratitude to Claire L. and John for their missives

--end text

:: Clinton 12:43 AM [+] ::
...
:: Monday, November 10, 2003 ::
In posts below, Beth and Claire (welcome by the way) both say the gender genie identifies them as male. There are only two appropriate conclusions
1. Beth and Claire are actually men
2. Beth and Claire plaguerised from men throughout college and into graduate school.

The internet is never wrong!
For what its worth, I'm identified as male on every paper I've tried. Even a short, supportive paper on feminist theory came back strongly masculine. Kelly is also a man.
:: Clinton 9:58 PM [+] ::
...
:: Friday, October 31, 2003 ::
Home Sweet Home

Link above is to the venerable hometown paper and its reporting of a small bison stampede problem in town the whole day. As they say in the blogosphere, "read the whole thing."
:: Clinton 1:55 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, October 07, 2003 ::
Nobel Prize Rumor : U of C lets someone else win one? If this is true the reaction will be far more entertaining than the awarding as such. Nowhere near as amusing as "soccer"'s nomination (and rumored consideration) a few years back.

Announcement rumoured at 4pm tomorrow (swedish time) I guess but don't know for sure that's 10am est.

Stole the link to DeLong from Calpundit
:: Clinton 10:25 PM [+] ::
...
:: Sunday, August 24, 2003 ::
The weekend before the start of classes is ending in a classic fashion. The planets, as always, are aligned against me as I finish up preparations for the semester.

I was supposed to move offices on Friday. I turned in my old key only to find out that there were no spare keys to my new office. This left me homeless. I stowed my stuff in the computer lab, intending to pick it up over the weekend.

UNC's servers got nuked by the worms at the end of last week. The computer folks shut down all of the networks and prohibited anyone from even turning on a UNC network computer. To enforce the order, they locked the computer lab sometime Friday night...with my things inside.

This was only a problem because the stuff I left there included my laptop with the only copy of my half-finished syllabus on it and all of the books for my course in a neat little pile.

I've done what I could (not much) over the weekend and am looking forward to a 15 hour day tomorrow. The AC on the car is out so I also have to get that fixed.

Fantastic way to start the year.
:: Clinton 10:07 PM [+] ::
...
:: Friday, August 15, 2003 ::
Kristoff's column in Friday's Times is fascinating. He seems to be on the intellectuals side of the religious::intellectual dichotomy he identifies. At the same time, he sees his call for a more reflective religious community as something aimed at 'saving' religion.

This is something that is always around down here. Most of the time I'm not sure what to make of or how to respond to the conversation stopping argument "It says so in the Bible" Usually I come home and look at the referenced part of the Bible. I find in at least 2/3 of the cases It (whatever it is) is not in the Bible, at least not where I was pointed to.

I'm not sure what to make of or how to respond to the strong belief in an imminent and most likely violent second coming. The "Left Behind" series covered the front table of the bookstore I was at today. For those who don't follow this slice of America, Left Behind is a series of very popular novels (NYT best-sellers, etc that I admittedly haven't read and won't read any time soon) that use the apocolypse and its attendent violence towards heathens as the grist for boilerplate thrillers.

Arguments on both sides of the Judge Roy Moore saga in AL (the 10 commandments guy) reveal that the two sides have no functional language to communicate.

I like to think, in my ivory tower, that the problem is that 'They' fully misunderstand America and its founding principles. One of the primary bulwarks of the political state seem utterly uncompelling to a Judge of all people.

I am not sure yet if the America that I see and understand is at all reconcilable with the vision I see at the other extreme. I'm not sure if the version of Chritianity I accept is reconcilable with theirs (from what I understand of their side, evangelicals would say it is not).

A few questions to end: why should morality be defined along only one axis? Few other elements of life draw their salience from only one source.

If the Bible is as exact and infallible as staunch creationism and if you believe Kristoff's numbers upwards of 70% believe with regard to early Genesis, why aren't more people following the rules laid out in Acts? If you're going to let your thoughts be driven by dogmatic principles divined from a centuries old text, shouldn't you at least perform its explicit requirements before you torment those you condemn (homosexuals, abortionists, etc) on much, much sketchier evidence. I don't know enough to know the theological justification for this selectivity. I'm actually kind of curious in that 3 am sort of way. Anyone out there know why the hard-core Baptist congregation down the street doesn't have to abide by the dietary laws of the old testament?

OK, I admit, I have always had severe issues with being told what to do. I have always favored if not practiced logical consistency when extrapolating theory into practice.

I'm always nervous of major social movements where questions and questioning are frowned upon and orthodoxy in behavior, values orientations, etc are controlled and regimented (insert gratuitious MUNUC joke here). This totalizing is the dangerous ingredient identified by Hoffer in his classic work on extremists. He heavily selected on the groups with nasty outcomes (Nazis and such) as the dependent variable. Still must give pause.

end ramble, good night.
:: Clinton 3:42 AM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, August 13, 2003 ::
When I first heard about this on CNN this morning, it was an Al-Queda operative with a missile he intended to shoot at Air Force One. Its changed slightly since then.
:: Clinton 11:48 PM [+] ::
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