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April 29, 2007

FoxNews' Redeye Last Week

If you've ever seen Redeye - and really, unless you have something like a JOB which requires you to be awake in the morning or whatever, you have no excuse not to watch every night - you know that they frequently discuss Very Important Subjects, oftentimes involving bestialty and/or squirrels (in general, not sex with them.  although I'm sure they'd be down with discussing the logistics of that).

Last week, we covered the following ground:


Rosie, and specifically why I haven't been asked to be a guest cohost on The View (I'm not a lawyer, or a lesbian.  Last time I checked.  I'm sure we could work something out, if that's what they needed.)


Sex predators, Miss America.  Somehow they make sense together.


Anorexic is the new Crack Whore.   Obvs.  It's way cheaper, too.


And finally, a little sex-tricking. Um ... right.  The guy told her that he needed to "apply her medicine" via his schween.  Really, you can't make this shit up.

Unless that's one of your fantasies, in which case, by all means, go apply your meds.

Or watch a clip of that show here:

April 25, 2007

FoxNews 2am & 6:15am

It's a Julia-double header on FoxNews this, er, "morning."  Catch me on Redeye at 2 am, and on Fox&Friends at 6:15 am.  Just FYI, I don't think I've been up at 6:15 am - voluntarily - since 1984.  The things I do for Rupe.

April 23, 2007

Weekend in DC: The White House Correspondents' Dinner


With my guide throughout the evening, the Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington, a new breed of intellectual celebrity.  Um ... intelebrity?

Click here for the full story (and a photo of Petra Nemcova!) on Huffington Post's Eat the Press.

April 22, 2007

The Tease

The writeup for last evening's White House Correspondent's Dinner will be on Eat the Press in the Huffington Post first thing tomorrow morning.

In the interim, because I know you can't possibly wait ONE MORE SECOND, here are a few of my favorite photos from the event and subsequent afterparties.  Despite the decidedly weak comic performance of poor Mr. Little, it was, frankly, a fucking incredible time.


with my good friend from college, Alexander Marquardt,
now an unbelievably talented anchor on Channel One.


Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton's Press Secretary,
and a truly phenomenal seat-sharer, right behind a certain belligerent Karl Rove.

More photos to come!

April 21, 2007

In DC this weekend


Me, circa 2004, Supreme Court style.  Holla, etc.

Anyway, the S.C. really doesn't have anything to do with the rest of this post, it just happened to be the first DC-esque photo I ran across.  Right.  So ... tomorrow I'll be down in Washington covering the White House Correspondent's Dinner for the Huffington Post.  I've been trying to go to this damn dinner since 2000.  Only took me seven years, but who's counting?

Unfortunately, I'm setting my expectations for a scandal-filled weekend rather low.  After last year's Stephen Colbert fiasco, the freaked-out organizers hired Rich Little, someone so old-school, so non-confrontational, so absolutely inoffensive, so practically dead that nothing truly amusing could happen, with the possible exception of him forgetting that the current President isn't Roosevelt.  Then again, Karl Rove could always jump around like a gimpy squirrel on crack.  Nothing better than lame-duck season in a non-election year.

April 20, 2007

File Under: Parties that Happened Two Weeks Ago

Right, so obviously I haven't been keeping up very well, as Dana Vachon's book party (remember him?  Shortest book review ever?) happened way back on Tuesday April 10, but whatever, better late than ... you know.

My party coverage, in the Huffington Post.  No, seriously.  Read it.


with Dana, at his (not so) little party


with Krystal, Mary, and Meghan


with Radar's Neel Shah, the proud manwhore of the magazine world.

April 19, 2007

On FoxNews' Redeye, with my new, really crappy haircut

To all the ladies out there, a warning:

Although you might say, very, very clearly: "Hair Stylist, please DO NOT cut ridiculous amounts of layers so I look like Jennifer Aniston in 1995," what they may hear is "I want to look JUST LIKE Jennifer when she was really, really unattractive!  Three inch layers are AWESOME.  Please butcher my hair!!!   No, really, do it!!   And while you're at it, MAKE SURE IT WILL TAKE YEARS TO GROW OUT!!!"

Screen shots from Redeye last Saturday April 14, below.  It's headband-and-ponytail season for me from now on.


Here on Redeye, we only talk about Serious Important News ...


like strip club fees.


And Katie Couric's SEVENTEEN-YEARS-YOUNGER Boyfriend.

Personally, I think it's hot to be a cougar.  I'm all about that.  Except if I tried to go 17 years younger, I'd be dating 3rd graders.

April 17, 2007

Does winning the popular vote make me look fat?

I - against my better judgment - watched the entire Academy Awards last month, and all I could think, besides "It's only a matter of time before a J. Hud nip slip" and “do interpretive dancers who form shadow penguins at large award shows get health insurance?” was "Al Gore is fat."  Yes.  It’s the inconvenient truth.  (Sorry, make a movie with that title, and writers feel the inexplicable need to make a pun out of it Every. Single. Time.)

Anyway, the Gorester is chubs, and people are starting to talk.  It’s not quite Tyra-Banks-Oh-no-you-did-NOT-just-call-me-Fat-on-the-cover-of-US-Weekly talk, but it's there.  In fact, the Chicago Trib just ran a POLL on it:

With the accompanying text:

Many people have noticed that the former vice president has grown rather beefy. He’s become a bigger man, perhaps in more ways than one. [ed note: LOL. Not.] … Gore’s added heft would make him a less attractive presidential candidate should he decide to run. The theory is that Gore would lose votes because his size is a turn-off--some sort of symbolic sign of decadence, complacency, bad diet, whatever.
Um … decadence?

And because it’s easy to pile on poor Al, Pat Buchanan (well-known for his svelte, manly bod) insulted him on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country for being “40 pounds overweight for spring training” then compared him to a football player “waddling onto the field” who’s “been eating all winter, it’s hellish.”

“He’s got to lose that,” he concluded.

Can’t wait for the Buchanan “Lose to Win” exercise DVDs.  Watch out Jane Fonda.  And, er … Dr. Phil.

April 16, 2007

New Feature (OMG!): Read Julia's Old College Papers!

Yeah, I just wanted to include "OMG" in the title.   It didn't really make sense, contextually.  I know this.  I'm okay with it.

Anyway, when I was home in Chicago last week, I found myself in the attic digging through my old college photos and term papers (it was either that or hang out with my parents & TurboTax.  Note to self: never, EVER come home the week prior to April 15th.)

Found this photo, circa 2002, in the dressing room before a Georgetown Hoyas basketball game.  They probably lost that night.  They always lost back then. (I'm second from the right, FYI.)

Anyway, in addition to wearing small outfits with "G" on them, I also wrote papers!   I turned them in late, of course.  But along the way, I did actually produce some more or less intelligent commentary on fairly esoteric subjects.  Yes.  This shocks me as well.

Of course, I remember approximately 3% of everything I learned.  Which is a pretty bad return on my dad's investment, but ... um ... memory was never my strong suit.  Christ, I can barely remember the plot of the last book I read, let alone shit I studied four years ago.  Oops?

Given that my chosen career seems to center entirely on discussions of the intricacies of shagging men, the life of Anna Nicole Smith, and which American Idol is fattest/weirdest/has posted the most nude photos-est, it's a relief to know that at one point in my life, I could define "deontology" and use it properly in a sentence.  It's frightening how quickly one's brain atrophies when not used for anything other than flirting.

In any case, I've decided to go back and re-read all my old term papers, then post them here.  Honestly, I do this for no reason in particular, save my own amusement.  And maybe yours.

Today's paper is from my 2003 Ethics & International Relations class.  Topic?  Kant's categorical imperative.  Hear that?  Kant, baby!  FUCK YEAH!  Nothing like a little philosophical analysis to brighten up your Monday morning.

Paper is after the jump.
Caveat - I don't promise this will be interesting.  Or good.  And if you're in the mood for something a little heavier on political history, try "Kennedy's Vietnam Dilemma."

Georgetown University
Ethics & International Relations
Fall 2003

Kant’s Ethical Framework for International Relations

I find Kant’s liberal theory inherently just, and as such, the most compelling of the ethical frameworks we have studied.  It is rooted in a more consistent ethical tradition than the concrete but ever-shifting determinism and it is more fair than the brutal and inequitable realism.

Kant takes the principles of Liberalism, that is, the moral freedom of individual, and expands upon it.  Liberalism has experienced great success in international relations, proven empirically superior, some argue, because no constitutionally secure liberal democratic state has ever fought another liberal democratic state.

Three tenets underlie Kant’s philosophy: 1) the state is seen as a moral being 2)  Everyone shares ownership of the earth and all its resources communally 3) we must always strive for world peace.

Kant’s strongest argument, in both his moral theory and his international ethical theory (which is merely an expansion of the former), is his core moral test.  The way to assess the morality of anything, he says, is to apply the categorical imperative. Arguing that others should never be treated as the means to our ends, the categorical imperative requires that a moral act uphold the “equal and unqualified value” of every single being.

Testing our acts hypothetically, Kant says that we each should think of our actions as if that action would be done by all.  Before performing an act, we must ask ourselves this question: “Under relatively similar conditions, would it be moral and desirable to will that everyone in the world follow this principle?”  This exercise is both universal and emphasizes that every rational being has value in and of themselves. 

We may not think much of the American government taking prisoners of the war on terror and confining them in Guantanamo Bay without trial, but we would not think it were just if everyone did that – to our citizens as well!  Thus, Kant would say that the categorical imperative determines that particular act to be without morality.  The key benefit to this test is that it is blind to selfish interests – it is truly fair and universal.

By using a deontological approach to international ethics, Kant rightly emphasizes the duties we each must feel toward every being on this planet.  Too often we are self-centered and inconsiderate, thinking only of our own “rights” and not of our corresponding obligations to others.  Although we may intellectually understand that rights require duties, we too often pass off those duties to others – other people, our government, or other nations’ governments.  The rights-based approach is limited; we should refocus our international ethics on duties instead, for “duties ground rights: rights entail duties of forbearance or action by those who are bound to respect them.”   Kant’s theory allows us to do this.

Kant also claims, correctly, I believe, that motivation is key to properly evaluating an act as moral or not.   An act, performed with certain motivations, we may judge as moral, while the very same act, performed with different motivations, we may judge as immoral.  Intuitively, we sense the difference, and it is upheld (somewhat) in the American justice system, through the idea of “intent.”  If an actor causes the death of another without intent to kill, they will be convicted of manslaughter.  But if their intent to kill is proven, they will be convicted of first-degree murder.  The consequences of the act are identical – the victim is dead.  But we instinctively sense an important difference in the morality of the two acts; one is a tragic mistake, the other a sinful crime.

How is it that we can sense the fundamental moral difference between the two acts?  Kant would say our a priori reason guides us to delineate basic morality and immorality.  It is such reason that should guide our moral principles, as Kant advocates, not state interests, as realism suggests, for “the essence of acting morally does not lie in achieving self-interest or national interest.”   Practically, Kant’s point here is crucial.  Allowing for the possibility that our own laws (at the local, state, national or international levels) may be “unreasonable” means that we have the authority to protest unjust laws, if they are not in accord with what we rationally determine to be moral.  Kant thus ties “rationality to the heart of moral deliberation.”

I find this argument especially compelling, for throughout history, various acts have been judged by the status quo governments or communities to be “legal” but were in fact, using Kant’s categorical imperative, patently unjust.  Slavery, women’s subjugation, racial discrimination and human rights violations of all sorts are just a few examples of the wrongs perpetuated.  Sadly enough, these injustices would have been considered acceptable under the determinist or realism ethical theories.  Kant’s theory eliminates that possibility, by making all acts subject to the categorical imperative. As such, the categorical imperative is the great equalizer.  No matter what age, no matter what nation, the question, “What would the world be like if everyone was subjected to the act I am about to commit?” works to bring to light moral wrongs that may have masqueraded as acceptable under the deep grime of prejudice.

Problems/Weaknesses/Limitations

Some critics, like scholar Steven Luper-Foy, believe people’s inherent differences — such as their nationality, or their level of wealth — might lead them to will different outcomes.  But this misconstrues Kant’s essential point: “the subject of the categorical imperative is never more specific than that of a ‘rational being.’”   This being is neither American, nor black, nor a woman or a child.  Just a being, whose only characteristic is that he/she is rational.  John Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” helps to further explain this concept.  If you had to make a decision with no way of knowing who you were in the world, what decision would you make?

He advocates the idea of “cosmopolitanism,” that is, one should “treat all humans, by virtue of their shared rationality, as citizens of a single moral order.”   Thus Kant upholds the truth of morality that stretches beyond borders and across cultures.  Although applying his categorical imperative may be difficult – separating oneself from personal or national biases is never easy – that does not remove our duty to do so.

The idea that we can make moral judgments without bias from an anonymous, generic form, is not unique to Kant.  The Christian faith shares a similar belief, as St. Paul explains: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”   This reflects the same implicit fairness of Kant’s doctrine; we are all equal under his moral philosophy.

Other critics argue that by focusing on the motivations, Kant ignores important consequences of the acts.  Indeed, Kant “refused to make consequences the moral litmus test of action,”  but I believe that was necessary.  Consequentialism can spiral out of control very easily if not reigned in by a Kant-type moral test.  Witness a favorite example of ethics professors across the nation: a suspect knows the location of a bomb but refuses to disclose it.  Should you torture him, even though you believe torture to be morally wrong?  Many say yes, that in this case, torture is not immoral.  Why do they believe this?  Because of the consequences.  They weigh the consequences of torturing against the consequences of not torturing, and find the former to be more acceptable morally.

But Kant did not mean that we should not consider consequences whatsoever.  In order to follow the categorical imperative we must imagine a world “following a hypothetical maxim” – thus testing the empirical consequences of our moral choices.  Intention is key to moral praise or blame, and Kant cites an example of two soldiers attempting a mission; one fails, the other succeeds.  Kant says that although the consequences were different, they both deserve the same praise or blame “despite the fact that the outcomes of the two acts were quite different.

Most importantly, Kant believed that “the way the world is cannot be used to derive the way it ought to be.” There is no more imperative stand in ethics. His two essential sources for knowledge – that of the a priori and the a posteriori – refer to knowledge known simply by “rational reflection” and knowledge learned by experience.  Our sense of “must” is a priori knowledge, its genesis is “a demand of reason in application to action.”

Kant declares that we should ignore completely the “feasibility” of the end, and make our moral decisions without regard to such so-called probability.  This makes sense for two reasons.  The first Charles Beitz points out, that “the ideal cannot be undermined simply by pointing out that it cannot be achieved at present.”   The second is merely logical – proving that something is impossible, is, well, impossible.  We often confuse “improbable” or “difficult” with “impossible,” serving as an excuse for people who wish to retain unjust status quos.  (For example, slavery.)

I agree with Kant that ethics should be ultimately normative, not empirical.  Good ethics are not made by “deriving statements about how people ought to behave from statements about how in fact they do behave.”  We may believe that such an “ideal” society could never come to be, but we must nonetheless make our actions accountable to the morals that society would demand.

Furthermore, if we based our morals on “accepted acts” of the international cooperation, we would have an extremely volatile and questionable morality.  Espoused by the determinists, Kant is rightly skeptical of this philosophy.  That some states are willing to work with each other does not establish a moral basis for their decisions!  Scholar Donaldson writes:

“Even if the world were … a barbarous Hobbesian free-for-all, with each nation insisting on its own peculiar morality, Kant would argue that practical reason forbids indiscriminate killing, intentional lying, and other acts violating our hypothetical postulated citizenship.”

Morality existed before the league of nations, before the United Nations, before any conventions deemed certain practices acceptable or unacceptable.  “States share virtually every general universalizable obligation possessed by rational individuals.”   There is no reason to see state autonomy as any different than individual autonomy.  Although Kant recognizes inter-state groups have trouble enforcing moral laws, he believes (as I do) that the state cannot—and should not—avoid moral responsibility by being an unaccountable actor.  Hobbes’ idea of the “state of nature”—a world in which states may do what they please— is therefore “unjust in the highest degree.”

The only relevant criticism of Kant are the dilemmas inherent in any set of so-called “universal” moral principles.  In other words, there are always exceptions.  Even the most basic morals, such as “never kill” or “never steal” can be refuted in certain circumstances.  Critics say that we must look to the consequences to determine how to morally proceed in these situations.  A good question Donaldson asks is: “if the exceptions defining application of deontological principles are hostage to consequential considerations, then are the principles themselves not also hostage?”   I do not believe they are.

Any moral theory, just like any body of law, can never be perfect.  Human beings come up with an infinite number of possible situations.  The best we can do is attempt to be as moral as possible.  Ultimately, “reducing the good for all humankind to the prejudices of a single community, collective, or nation” is flawed and we must insist, as Kant does, on “principle over calculation.”

I believe Kant’s theory allows us to do that in the best possible way in the vast majority of situations. Ultimately, his philosophy is optimistic, drawing the conclusion that we may have what it takes to evolve morally in such a way that we can achieve “impossible” goals.  World peace, anyone?

Work Cited

Beck, Lewis White. 1960 A Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Feinberg, Joel. 1966. “Duties, Rights and Claims.” American Philosophical Quarterly, 3: 137-44.

Kant, Immanuel, 1965 “The Metaphysical Elements of Justice” [1797], Part I of The Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. John Ladd. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

Luper-Foy, Steven, ed. 1988. Problems of International Justice. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Rawls, John. 1971.  A Theory of Justice. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vincent, R.J. 1986. Human Rights and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

April 12, 2007

Because Nothing Says Bridal Wear Like a Totally Naked Man

Wedding season's coming up.  Trying to find something to go with that brand new bridal gown you just bought?  How about a completely naked dude?

While surfing TheKnot.com the other night with my friend Rachel (total fiances between us = 0.  Whatever.  Details.), we stumbled upon these ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPHIC ADS depicting possible future wedding dresses.

At first, we were confused.  What the hell was a naked man doing there?  Did he come with?  Because that sounds like a really good deal, except that most normal women, when actively searching for a wedding dress, have the whole "man" thing pretty much covered.

Furthermore, when these women think about their future wedding dress, they probably aren't like, "Wow, I really love this dress, but the thing that would make me want to buy it even more is if I could see it pictured with a totally naked man who isn't in any way my fiance rubbing his totally naked body against its pristine white fabric!"

Although maybe there are discounts for stains?

 Naked Man with Bride 1.jpg Naked Man with Bride 2.jpg

Naked Man with Bride 3.jpg 


Um, honey ... this is fine for the wedding dress ad photos, but I'm going to insist you wear a tux to the wedding.  No.  Seriously.  'NUDE' DOES NOT WORK WITH MY COLOR SCHEME.

April 10, 2007

Back in NY Today (WOO!) with a New Motto

Gather ye rosebuds, bitches!

No, that's not a line from Party Girl, I made it up (in this month's COED sex column).  Well, sort of.  With some help from Robert Herrick.  Anyway, I think using "bitches" at the end really adds something.

And in case you're still unclear on just exactly what I'm getting at here, to paraphrase the indefatigable Nora Ephron: "If I knew how hot I was at 26, I'd have put on a damn bikini and not taken it off for the ENTIRE FREAKING year."

Gather ye rosebuds, bitches.  Gather ye rosebuds.

April 09, 2007

Another Reason to Love My Parents



From a dinnertime conversation at my house the other night ...

Mom: “He’s a little full of himself.”
Julia: “If I were that smart, I’d be full of myself too!”
Dad: “You are that full of yourself.  And you’re not that smart!”

sigh.

Puppy Love

Photos taken today with Lilly, my 3-year-old shih tzu puppy.

April 08, 2007

Happy Easter, yo

Bet you didn't pose with a GIANT BUNNY this year.  Sucker.


Easter 2006, Boston's Four Seasons Hotel

April 06, 2007

Easter Blast from the Past

Although my Easter dress this year is pretty much a throwback to being six (yes, it's pink and it has FLOWERS and ruffles!) the Easters of Yesteryear were also damn cute.

See brother Britt, below.  Britt's now 6'2, getting his phd in quantum physics at MIT.  Here, he looks borderline retarded.  I liked him better this way.

The entire fam, below.  Not many six-year-olds could rock an easter hat like that, thankyouverymuch.

And yes, some (1/2) Jews celebrate Easter.  Let's just think about this for a minute: basket of chocolate vs. Matzah ball soup.  Um ... decision made!

April 03, 2007

In Chicago this Week, Slowly Shriveling Away

I mean mentally shriveling.  How is it that parents can discuss weather or traffic or zoning ordinances for like, hours on end?  Seriously, my dad got home from the office tonight, started complaining about the traffic, then my mom was like "well, was it cold?"  and launched into a story about how she got some mail misdelivered but then she RE-delivered it to the neighbor's, where it belonged.  Meanwhile, I was sawing at my wrists with the only thing available, my iPod.

Is there a certain age where suddenly, out of nowhere, completely banal topics become acceptable and even - shudder - interesting?  If so, kill me with methadone right before that age.


But Dad, you HAVE to support Hillary!  You're being SOOO UNFAIR!!

April 01, 2007

The Whitest Girls U Know

Along with thousands of other similarly suburban-raised white girls, I can rap 100% of the lyrics to "Baby Got Back."


Indeed, I know several rap songs, including but not limited to "Paul Revere," any by Wyclef, and those involving Hos and disparate phone prefixes.  In fact, I have fond memories being 16, rollin' in my sea green Ford Contour in the northern Chicago 'burbs, screaming "Regulators, MOUNT UP!"  I did not know what a Regulator was, but if Warren G & Nate Dogg said they should Mount Up, they should, damnit.

[I've obviously mellowed in my old age, because Pocahontas' "Colors of the Wind" is playing right now on my iTunes.  Of course, the previous song was "Promiscuous Girl," but it's on shuffle so I take absolutely no credit for the irony.]

In any case, despite my practically encyclopedic knowledge of pop rap, I have - until last Friday - avoided using the term "Gatt" in conversation or, yes, flashing fake gang signs while posing for photos.

I italicize this because A) I'm shocked.  It seems like the kind of totally-obnoxious-cheesy thing I would do.  and B) My fellow really-really white girls seem to have taken a different direction.  Many ladies feel that, if in photographic doubt, GANG SIGNS = REALLY COOL.

In fact, this video really sums it up:


In homage to this, the ridiculously adorable, bring-her-home-to-mom, so-white-she's-clear media reporter Rachel Sklar and I decided to flash our own unique gang signs at Arianna Huffington's book party last Friday.

As I think you'll quickly deduce, they give us an ineffable aura of  "badass."  Also, confusion.

Do.  Not.  Fuck.  With.  Jewish.  Gangstas.