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February 15th, 2002:

Canadians win gold, become bigger than Britney

The IOC has awarded a second gold medal to Jaime Sale and David Pelletier, thus ending the biggest scandal of these Olympics. Canada whoops it up, and Russia pitches a fit.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting a ton of Google hits from people searching for “Jaime Sale”. Between this post and the one about Britney, I’m really pimping for some numbers. Watch that counter shoot skyward, baby!

Hypocrisy, liberalism, and considering the source

I’d like to do a little followup on my post from yesterday in which I discussed David Horowitz’s survey which claims to prove that Ivy League professors are more liberal than most Americans. I’ll start by explaining why this claim doesn’t impress me.

Suppose you come across the following sentence in an op-ed piece: “This move is an attempt by President Bush to appease the extreme right wing of the Republican Party.” How likely are you to accept the word of the author that the president has done something bad?

Well, if you are on the right-hand side of the political spectrum and those words were written by someone like Molly Ivins or Michael Kinsley, I’ll bet the answer is “not bloody likely”. You expect someone like that to view most things that President Bush does in a negative light, and thus to portray them negatively in their words. Their idea of what “extreme right wing” means is probably not the same as yours, and they’re more likely to consider something that “appeases” them to be bad than you are.

Now suppose the writer is Robert Novak or Bill Kristol. You’re more likely to sit up and pay attention, right? You know these guys don’t consider “right wing” to be dirty words, and you know they don’t make cheap jokes about President Bush’s intelligence or legitimacy. In short, they’re credible, and if they have something negative to say about Bush or the Republicans, it’s worth your time to listen to them.

If that makes sense to you, then you understand why those of us on the left-hand side of the equation, upon hearing of Horowitz’s latest crusade, react by saying “Wow, David Horowitz thinks liberals are bad. Film at 11.” Every single column or article ever written by Horowitz can be summed up as “Liberals bad. Conservatives good. See what those nasty liberals are doing to these good conservatives? Why don’t they ever realize how bad they are?” Bless my pointy little head, he’s got just such a column in Salon today. It’s Premium, so you may not be able to see the whole thing, but the subhead is “Liberal intellectuals who praise Bush for prosecuting the war but still insist he’s stupid are the real dummies”. Need I say more?

I’m not saying anything profound here, just that it’s often worthwhile to consider the source. Writers like Horowitz have a vested interest in making their guys look good and the other guys look bad. It’s to be expected. If he ever wants to be taken seriously by someone who isn’t already in agreement with him, he’s gonna need a big heaping dose of intellectual honesty.

Which brings me to my next point, about hypocrisy. Sgt. Stryker recently posted that “[h]ypocrisy isn’t the sole domain of the left”, followed by a couple of quotes from The Corner on National Review Online. The first complained about “New York elites” who consider most people to be “cultural retards”, and the second called Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee “a trash-can diva”.

Full marks to the Sarge for recognizing the hypocrisy, but a brickbat for being surprised by it. Hypocrisy is the domain of those who believe they and those who think like them are always right. It is the domain of those who only see and accept evidence that supports their position, and discard and discredit evidence which contradicts them. It has nothing to do with which direction you lean and everything to do with refusing to acknowledge that there might be something in those other directions.

In sum, to quote John Kenneth Galbraith: “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” That’s hypocrisy.

When pop queens attack

It’s hard to fully appreciate the horror that is Britney Spears’ new movie Crossroads. I have a really hard time wrapping my mind around this professional virgin pop singer who gets to star in her very own Mary Sue. How much more can we be expected to endure?

But it occurred to me this morning that if you hate all things Britney, perhaps her making a movie is the best thing to happen. Think about all of the other annoying pop singers who made awful, critically panned and financially disastrous movies, and how many of them essentially disappeared from the limelight afterwards. Condsider: Has Vanilla Ice done anything since Cool as Ice? Didn’t Mariah Carey have a breakdown and get released from her recording contract after Glitter came out? Has anyone seen Andrew Dice Clay since The Adventures of Ford Fairlane? Okay, technically Dice wasn’t a pop singer but geez was he annoying.

This method isn’t perfect, I’ll admit. Whitney Houston survived The Bodyguard, though it’s been rough for Kevin Costner since then (not that this is a bad thing). Mandy Moore will probably survive A Walk to Remember. But there’s hope, and that’s all that we can ask for.

In the meantime, content yourself with this incredibly funny and biting review from MaryAnn Johanson aka the Flick Filosopher, from whom I shamelessly borrowed the title of this blog entry.