Saturday, February 16, 2002
Mr. Haider affirmed his country's solidarity with the people of Iraq, and expressed willingness to develop relations between Iraq and Austria in all fields and strengthen cooperation ties between Austrian Liberty Party and the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party in a way that make available further bilateral cooperation and coordination in international forums in the service of both countries' aims.
Friday, February 15, 2002
In the '50s and '60s we were going up against Communism. Many people saw Communism for what it was, but many others whose vision of the good society was much like my own (something basically like what we have but with reasonable housing, health care, and education available irrespective of income) were fooled into thinking that the Communists shared (something similar to) that vision.
Islamism could never, ever become a compelling vision for Western intellectuals or even pretend that it was. I don't quite know what motivates the latter day Osama fans of Cambridge, MA, but it's certainly not a desire to live under the rule of Taliban and as long as that remains true their ideas will have only a very limited appeal.
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Banning soft money donations is either a case where government would, in fact, know better than private industry what is in their best interests, or else it's true that corporations are getting special treatment and corrupting the democratic process with their big money donations. You can't have it both ways, and either case is an argument for reform.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
It's true that one proposed amendment to Shays Meehan would allow money "to flow to independent groups for sham "issue ads" running just before an election" but by the same token it would allow independent groups to run ads about issues that are important to them. Are all issue ads eo ipso "sham" issue ads? If so, where's the argument? If not, why is it okay to ban all issue ads because some are shams?
Doesn't sound good for the Jews to me. Unless, of course, we're able to succesfully pursue Glenn Reynolds' famed Hashemite strategy,
The problem for me, however, is the tendency of the leftish media to focus such a disproportionate amount of their attention on the misdeeds of Sharon. The Arabs in the occupied territories aren't any worse off than the Arabs in Saudi Arabia or Iraq or Syria, but we never hear about that.
Clearly, the fact that abuses exist elsewhere doesn't justify any abuses committed by Israel, but there is something anti-semitic about dedicating 50% of your coverage of bad things happening abroad to the misdeeds of the Jews who are, after all, responsible for only an incredibly tiny proportion of the bad things in the world.
It is a bad situation but it is not without some hope. My view is that the first requirement in this situation is for an end to the terror against the Israelis.Of course Palestine deserves a state, but until the Israeli public is convinced that the people likely to run such a state won't allow their citizens to launch attacks on Israel, there's just no way Israel can give up their right to police the territories.
Everyone knows that many Palestinians don't so much want a Palestinian state as they do the destruction of Israel, and moreover, any negotiated settlement is bound to leave many people on both sides of the line unhappy. Without assurances that unhappy Palestinians won't go around killing busloads of children, the occupation will never end.
Arafat and the Palestinians need to decide if they would rather see the occupation end so they can get on with their lives or else if they want to retain the moral high ground vis-avis Israel in the underlying dispute about Zionism. The only way for them to win the current battle for the West Bank will be to admit once and for all that they lost the war for Israel proper and that they will by no means try to refight it.
Anyone who may both be on the list and currently teaching a class I'm in is not, of course, the target of the comments above.
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
As we all know, of course, there's no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the administration, but that's more because all kinds of things are legal that shouldn't be than because Dubya hasn't done anything wrong.
Millions of Iranians galvanized by President Bush's branding of their nation as part of an "axis of evil" marched in a nationwide pep rally today that harkened back to the early days of the Islamic revolution, with the American flag burned for the first time in recent memory.Now obviously the Ayatollahs are manipulating public opinion here, but lets not forget that until recently the demonstrations we were seeing were either in support of the reformist President or else were in order to condemn him for being insufficiently radical.
Turns out that people may not like having their nation, bad as it may be, labeled an ally of two different vicious mass murderers (bin Laden and Saddam) both of whom it was fighting against long before the US got in the battle.
There is really no principle at work by the foes of campaign reform. Their philosophy seems to be: Do whatever works to kill the bill, erode support or force the bill into a House- Senate conference, where Republican leaders in the House plan to bury it.But isn't it quite clear what the principle is: They think Shays-Meehan is a very, very bad bill and so they're going to try and stop it from becoming law. Given their beliefs (personally, I don't think that the law will make a real difference one way or the other) I would expect nothing less of them.
Wouldn't the Times strongly object to some legislation that would, say, remove all limits on political fundraising? Wouldn't they want Senators and Representatives who also objected to such a measure to take every possible action (or at least every legal action) in order to stop it? If not, why not?
the Bush administration has balked at providing a significant increase in the S.E.C.'s budget ? even though "it pays far less than the private sector and, more amazingly, less than other federal regulatory agencies."Now I've noticed that a surprising number of the hits I get on this site originate from the sec.gov domain and if that's because I have loyal readers over there then let me share my outrage that this important agency that makes capitalism work isn't being funded appropriately.
If, on the other hand, this is part of some big-time government plan to monitor webloggers for signs of securities fraud or something, well then I think we may need some budget cuts.
It would be nice if people concerned with preserving individual liberty against government encroachment spent a little more time railing against a set of policies that keep thousands of innocent people locked in tiny jail cells and a little less focusing on the plight of the "overtaxed" super rich.
The latter is significantly more informative, but the former has more T&A, so take your pick.
Also, on the drive home I started thinking about two of my favorite imaginary bands: Adequate G, the rapper with a realistic sense of self, who boasts that he has approximately as many rhymes as comparable rappers. The other thing I'd love to see is some punk band with a sense of humor do a video in which they drive around in hot tubs in the back of limos, drink champagne with bikini models, and nod enthusiastically as big bootys shake in the camera.
Monday, February 11, 2002
I'm going to just come out and admit, however, that I'm one of those much-maligned people who's willing to distort the constitution in order to accomplish my own goals. I don't think that's such a bad thing. After all, I believe what I believe because I believe it to be right and I don't really think that doing what's constitutional is more important than doing what's right.
To take another example. Gun control advocates say that the 2nd Amendment doesn't bestow an individual right to own firearms. Gun rights advocates, on the other hand, believe that the 2nd Amendment prohibits all sorts of regulations of firearms. They both coincidentally think that their constitutional views would make for good public policy.
Now I don't know much about the constitutional debate, but I do know a lot about the public policy debate and it seems to me that gun control is good public policy (obviously, many readers will disagree, but that's a separate debate) and so I don't really care what the 2nd amendment "really" means.
I think anyone who thinks we should sacrifice good policy for the sake of some abstract constitutionalism is fooling himself. Many times, of course, what the constitution says we should do (I think of the first amendment) is what we should do, and in those cases we should do what the constitution says.
Surely a woman with over a decade's experience dealing with British public opinion and continental leaders should have something worthwhile to say about the subject.
Sunday, February 10, 2002
I'd rather see more Congressmen "hypocritically" act against the interests of their donors, rather than "honorably" staying bought.Quite right. Hypocrisy is a silly charge to level at people as its easy as hell to avoid hypocrisy by simply refusing to have any substantial moral standards at all.
I study moral philosophy, but as far as I know this important point isn't made by any philosophers. It does feature prominently, however, in Neal Stephenson's excellent The Diamond Age
There are, clearly, many objections one could raise against this sort of thing, but the absurdly inaccurate rendering of the White House seems worth mentioning along with the blood-curdling anti-semitism.
As a liberal secular humanist, I'm not wild about the idea, but as someone educated in a religious school myself, I know it's not the worst thing in the world. The most important thing, really, is for kids to learn.
What does worry me, however, is not so much the thought of vouchers that can be used for religious schooling as it is the thought of vouchers that can only be used for Catholic schools.
Both the private Episcopal elementart school and the private secular high school I attended cost on the order of ten times what this Ohio program was offering. Partially, that's just because it was Ohio and things are cheaper there, but largely it's because these voucher programs are stingy and designed to target the relatively low tuitions charged by Catholic schools.
Here again the problem isn't that I don't like Catholics, it's just that for vouchers to work they're going to need to spur an increase in the number of private schools (or else it'll just take the very few very best kids out of the public system) and that will only happen if the money's there.
Anyone whose read Reich's "The Democrats Aren't 'Just Resting'" which says "the DLC stands for nothing, nada, zero, except it's anti-union" won't be holding their breath.
In the interests of full disclosure, I spent last Saturday at the Cambridge Ward 8 Democratic Party caucus standing for election as an alternate delegate for Tom Birmingham who, admittedly, isn't perfect, but at least he's not full of shit. Anyway, the Reich supporters -- who included Reich himself -- had to be repeatedly ruled out-of-order for their attempts to short-circuit the caucus process.
They kept noting that Reich had a lot of "vision" but were unable to articulate what, exactly, this vision consisted of other than a lot of bitching about trade and welfare reform.