The reform groups were so committed to achieving some kind of reform that they didn't want to do anything that might jeopardize its passage.Now this sounds really dumb, and I'm inclined to agree with TAP that it sounds dumb because it is dumb, but I recently read Robert Caro's Master of the Senate about LBJ during the 50s, and according to the book Johnson used a similar strategy to convince Northern Liberals to go along with the toothless 1957 Civil Rights Act. He told them that even though the bill wouldn't really do anything, that the most important thing was to pass a bill, any bill, and thereby prove that it was possible to get a Civil Rights bill through the congress. Obviously, the two situations are different in any number of ways, and, as I said, I do think that "reformers" made a mistake in passing this bill, but there is a chance that success will breed success and a good bill will follow a bad one. At least I hope one will.
Saturday, June 08, 2002
Friday, June 07, 2002
With her Fargo drone and her schoolmarm glasses and her willingness to propound her personal recommendations on any topic -- even the structure of the federal government itself -- I have to believe that every single FBI boss over her -- competent or incompenent -- is gritting and grinding teeth right now, unable to say a thing, unable to shout: She's just a midwestern midlevel cog!Couldn't agree more, I kept thinking while I watched her that if I'd been her boss I would have ignored everything she told me. Of course, it wouldn't turned out I was wrong. On the other hand, the fact that she was right about one thing by no means makes her qualified to set the agenda for the reorganization of a huge slice of the federal government.
Thursday, June 06, 2002
Wednesday, June 05, 2002
There are simply no circumstances in which the premeditated targeting of innocent civilians is justified. And the widespread, institutionalized use of this illegitimate tactic by what Cody calls "activists," even in a supposedly legitimate cause, not only undermines that cause, but also calls into question the very legitimacy of that cause.I think this is doubly foolish. Are there really no circumstances in which the premeditated targeting of innocent civilians is justified? I have my doubts. When Great Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany they employed a campaign of terror bombing against the German civilian population, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me that given the nature of the situation (the state of available bombing technology, the imperative to defeat what was essentially evil incarnate, the general lack of other realistic options) that that was a justifiable policy. Similarly many claim that by indiscriminately killing the people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki the United States effected a net preservation of civilian lives since even though house-to-house fighting on the home islands wouldn't have been targeted at civilians a great many would have wound up dying.
I don't know if the empirical assumptions behind those arguments really hold up (I've seen a great deal of dispute on both sides and I don't really know how to evaluate it), but they seem like perfectly sound structural arguments if the facts really support them. Similarly, many take the opposite view of Bomber Command's activities, particularly after the entrance of the USA and USSR into the war and hold that they were basically just the pointless terrorization of the German civilian population, but I can't imagine anyone thinking that "calls into question the very legitimacy" of the anti-Nazi cause.
I agree with the specific assertions that I think Grafstein is trying to make -- namely that the campaign of suicide bombings against Israel is unjustifiable and that Sharon is right to refuse to negotiate with their perpetrators, but it's important not to prove too much with one's moralizing.
You'd think if there was at least one Democrat the Green Party could get behind, it would be Minnesota's Paul Wellstone.This kind of shock, though, is a little naive. Liberal Democrats like Wellstone are the essence of the problem for Greens. If the Greens can succesfully eliminate them, then the Democrats will be totally taken over by DLC-types and that'll give the Greens the opportunity they need to win union and other institutional support. After all, if what the Greens were really about was supporting liberal democratic candidates like Wellstone, they'd be doing what liberal Democrats do -- running candidates in primary elections.
Now I live in the real world and, frankly, I can sympathize with the desire of politicians to stay on the good side of powerful public sector unions. Anyone who wants to stay in office is going to need to do some pandering here and there to well-organized interest groups, so getting all outraged anytime you see someone being less-than-totally pure is a bit silly. That said, newspaper editorialists don't run for office and its really unfortunate that liberal writers have such a propensity to buy into whatever talking points the relevant "left" interest group puts forth on any given issue rather than doing some independent thinking about what's actually in the interests of the disadvantaged.
Tuesday, June 04, 2002
Sandel makes the transcendence of justice by group identity sound very high-minded. But it gives the green light to every string-pulling parent and crony-highering academic. And at the end of the road stand Torquemada, Stalin, Hitler, and Begin.Torquemada, Stalin, Hitler, and Begin are at the end of the road? With Begin as the very last stop? Now I'm going to admit straight-up that I don't really know anything about Begin -- I don't even know when he was in power -- but I'm having a hard time believing that he did anything to deserve being put in the Hitler/Stalin league of all-time bad guys, much less that he deserves the implication that he was worse than Hitler. Didn't he sign the peace agreement with Sadat at Camp David? When will the madness cease? When I graduate, I suppose, and don't need to put up with these academic types anymore.
UPDATE: The worst the charmingly named Jew Watch can come up with is the alleged massacre of 100 Arab civilians. Don't know if that actually happened (and I highly doubt it went down quite the way a bunch of people calling themselves "Jew watch" said it did), but if it did, that's bad. I'm not sure I understand the whole Irgun deal either, but I suppose it's a bit questionable, and the Lebanon invasion certainly wasn't the best idea the world has ever seen, but the Osirak reactor bombing looks down right prescient from where I'm sitting. Hitler? I really don't think so, and it's quite hard to believe that otherwise serious people would go in for this sort of comparison.
Gates, moreover, has only committed to sticking around for one more year, saying that he's still considering an offer from Princeton. One possible resolution of this would be to make Gates Cornel West's replacement in order to hang on to him and then to let the Af-Am Department hire someone to replace Gates. On the other hand, its very common for a University Professorship to be moved from one department to another when the professor leaves -- the Conant University Professorship, for example, has jumped from Economics (Kenneth Arrow) to Philosophy (John Rawls) to Chinese Literature (Stephen Owen) -- and it would appear that philosophy's not going to get to hire anyone to replace Pellegrino University Professor Robert Nozick now that he's dead. A final note would be that making these appointments sometimes takes a very long time -- the Conant chair was absent from 1992-96.
Monday, June 03, 2002
Some may say that this is a difference without a distinction, and I'm too hungry right now to produce the argument for why this is a morally significant difference, so go buy Just and Unjust Wars.
Consent is freely given agreement to sexual activity. You have a right to stop sexual contact at ANY point. Silence, previous sexual relations, kissing, going to a date's room or apartment, wearing "sexy" or revealing clothing, or agreement given under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is NOT considered consent. [emphasis in original]This is, to be frank, absurd. Now of course neither "previous sexual relations, kissing, going to a date's room or apartment, [or] wearing "sexy" or revealing clothing" constitutes consent as such, and certainly none of those things obviate verbal objection to further sexual contact, but on what universe is having sex with a person who's under the influence of alcohol or other drugs rape? Now clearly if we're talking about someone who's passed out or unable to speak coherently the fact that she doesn't object doesn't excuse anything, but someone who's simply "under the influence" even if she explicitly consents? I think we're going to need to build a lot more jails if we're really going to enforce that one. Even worse is the notion that "silence" doesn't imply consent under any conditions. Now I seriously doubt that innocent people are actually being punished under these rules, but that doesn't make them any less inane. Indeed, they seem to be promoting an incredibly reactionary view of women as passive victims who are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions.
Sunday, June 02, 2002
More importantly, I think, the articles reports that:
In addition to changing the title, Yasin agreed on Wednesday to add a sentence condemning violence in the name of jihad, which includes a condemnation of the Sept. 11 attacks.I'd like to see exactly what that amounts to, but it sounds like genuine progress to me.