Saturday, February 23, 2002
Friday, February 22, 2002
I agree with him that unions' success in organizing on campus (often with the aid of student leftists) plays a large role in this, but must take issue with his comment at the end that "the notion that this select group of volunteers needs a union is laughable."
One hears this kind of talk from pro-market types all the time, but it's absurd. Of course no one needs a union, just as no one needs to threaten to quit if they don't get a raise. People do these things because it will advantage them, not because they need to.
I would think not. Calling something hate speech must count as first amendment privileged political commentary.
Thursday, February 21, 2002
The Central Intelligence Agency has warned in a classified report that Afghanistan could once again fall into violent chaos if steps are not taken to restrain the competition for power among rival warlords and to control ethnic tensions, senior American officials said today.I don't think this speaks very well of our intelligence community. Their billions of dollars in budget and all their satellites and interrogations of prisoners have let them figure out that if competition among rivals goes unrestrained that that might lead to chaos. I would say that that's just a simple truth of logic that has nothing to do with intelligence gathering except for the fact that the CIA doesn't seem to recognize that there's no "could" about it. What is chaos if not a situation in which there is no restraint in the struggle between rivals?
The worst thing about it is that this was a classified report. Top secret! What if the world finds out?
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Kaus, if memory serves, is pro-choice and doubtless wouldn't be terribly opposed to an (honest) effort to block rightwing judges like Pickering, but as a journalist has to comment on the democrats rather shady tactics.
He also supports universal health care and pumping more money into the reform welfare as long as such money is aimed at helping people get jobs, but neither of these proposals is really on the table.
Most fundamentally, a dissident liberal is more likely to attract praise from conservatives for his points of dissidence then he is to attract praise from libs for his points of orthodoxy, so it becomes natural to emphasize the points of dissidence. When there's no war on you can see a similar thing at work with Sullivan.
All this hot air floated about on the definition of "terrorism" (are Israeli tactics terrorism, is Iraq a terrorist state) seem really, really pointless to me. Certain things are right (fighting to defend democracy) and other are wrong (fighting to expand Islamic fundamentalism) and other things are wrong even if they're done in pursuit of good ends (launching a full-scale nuclear strike on Iraq to remove Saddam).
Waging war for Islamic fundamentalism wouldn't be any more right if it was done by uniformed bomber pilots dropping explosives on our heads, and combating Osama bin Laden wouldn't be any less right if it were done by irregular partisan (or, say, the Northern Alliance).
Sometimes, of course, moral distinctions are hard to draw. The point, however, is that we can debate and decide on the morality or immorality of an action independently of whether or not we think it's terrorism, so why bother with the latter which is, after all, only a linguistic question.
Speaking of linguistic questions I'm going to commit now to researching the history of the term "terrorism." But not now, later.
Only problem is that he failed to mention the boy-Senator's key committee assignments: Judiciary lets him pander to important social-lib interest groups and Intelligence lets him deny being inexperienced in foreign policy without needing to point to any actual experience (I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you...)
Most importantly, he can play Johnnie B. Goode as a campaign theme song. "Go Johnny go, go...."
One should remember, however, that the polarization in question is probably nothing more than a creation of the polarization between the relatively small interest group bases of both parties, rather than something that exists in the minds of most Americans. One can easily imagine a candidate (let's call him "John McCain" or, indeed, Joe Lieberman before he sold out on vouchers and affirmative action to get the nomination) who would have trounced either Bush or Gore in a general election.
liberals like Hunter Thompson and the late Edward Abbey: gun-owning, booze-sucking, tobacco-smoking writers who hate big government while demanding our government do something usefullI tend to agree. You hear a lot of talk about how the left has captured academia, but what seems more interesting (and important) to me is the extent to which academia (or at least the effete spirit of the ivory tower) has captured the left.
I have a real honest-to-god explaination for how and why this happened, but it's long and complicated and involves referring to sources in actual books, so I won't try to blog it here.
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Not that further evidence is needed, but the Enron case clearly demonstrates how special-interest contributors (a k a fat cats) give to get. Why else would corporate executives invest millions in candidates and parties? If they're not receiving a return, shareholders should sue.I believe I may have said something similar recently, but if so I was wrong. There's clearly a third option between "no benefit to the donor" and "donor is buying influence" namely a donor could be giving money to a candidate whose previously arrived at policies will benefit the donor.
The donotion pays off for the donor because it increases the chances that the guy with pro-donor policies will win. Notice that this needn't imply anything more than that the candidate in question has, say, better macroeconomic policies than the other guy and that therefore his election will be good for business.
I doubt that this is really what's going on and I'm not quite sure if it's really better (it would still give the rich an outsized influence on politics), but it would be wrong of us to rule it out a priori.
Monday, February 18, 2002
If Ted Barlow or any other such liberal can find examples of conservatives getting away with saying the kinds of disgusting crap liberals get away with all the time,like wishing a Supreme Court justice's wife would kill him, I'd love to see it. It would be a best-seller.If you'd like an example of conservatives getting away with "disgusting crap" please read any article that mention the budget, the surplus, or the Bush tax cut (see post below). I doubt that it would be a bestseller anyway, because liberals tend to read books to try and learn new things whereas conservatives seem obsessed with reading books that confirm their pre-existing prejudices.
The main point here is that anyone who's ever worked as a journalist could tell you that the number one cause of failure to do one's best work is not personal bias, but laziness. Dailies like the Times and the Post in particular almost need to write the easiest rather than the most accurate story if they want to fill their pages
I find it fairly astonishing that certain people who are prone to obsessing about Bill Clinton's dishonesty never seem to mention this or to have anything but smack to say about Paul Krugman who's been one of the key figures in exposing the administration's dissembling.
Now there are plenty of honest (though, I think, wrongheaded) reasons why one might support the Bush tax cut, mostly relating to a moral opposition to government redistribution of income. But why is it that none of the many, many, many people on the web who hold this view are never able to admit that their president is lying and that, fundamentally, there may be something wrong with duping the American people into accepting a tax cut they wouldn't like were the truth to be known?
Sunday, February 17, 2002
I'm afraid that given it's source of publication the piece won't get the circulation in non-libertarian circles that it deserves, but hey, that's what blogs are for, right?
It occurs to me that the grossly immoral nature of our current sanctions on Iraq is one of the best arguments I can find for why a liberal ought to support a war there. If there's one thing the current administration's certainly not going to do, it's ease up on Saddam. Given that, wouldn't everyone be better off if we just pulled the band-aid all at once rather than watching the country fall apart slowly?
The US is attempting to impose American-style democracy on Arabs and Muslims, forcing these countries (conveniently depicted as backward) to apply the social and economic policies it dictates; an American prescription is the remedy for the terrorist germs we breed.If only it were true! Sadly, the Bush administration seems to be doing precisely zero to eliminate the bums running the show in Cairo and Riyadh.
Once, as a colleague and I discussed some organizational issues at the University of Massachusetts, quoting an old New England maxim, he said to me: "If it is not 'broke,' don't mend it." That was surely good advice, and one that the self-appointed reformers in Pakistan appear never to have heard.Such are the perils of repeated translation.
And they think that our media is out to get them!
This sounds like a really good idea to me, but I'm suspicious of anything involving SEIU President Dennis Rivera, so if anyone can explain how this turns out to really just be a scam, I'm eager to hear.
If that's true, isn't it huge news that belongs on the front page not sitting somewhere in an op-ed column?