Similarly, on the social axis. I think gay sex should be legal because I think that if people feel like having sex with people of the same gender, they should go do it. Many conservatives would disagree, but most conservatives (I think) recognize that it would be ridiculously counterproductive to try and actively enforce a ban on sodomy.
Saturday, July 06, 2002
Let's get a grip, OK? If someone has a gun and is determined to go on a shooting spree and doesn't care if he dies while doing so, there isn't any way to stop him. If you've got security at the airport, he'll go shoot up a synagogue. If there are guards there, he'll find something else. You can't guard everything unless you convert the US into a police state, where no-one is permitted to go anywhere without permission and without being searched first.That's all perfectly true, but you could have some kind of a system in place designed to make it hard to get guns. You know, like one of them "gun control" type of things we liberals are always arguing for. After all, if someone has a hydrogen bomb and is determined to go on a city-destroying spree and doesn't care if he dies while doing so, there isn't any way to stop him either, and that's why you can't just walk into a Wal-Mart and buy a hydrogen bomb.
Incidentally, if the Second Amendment guarantees every American a right to bear arms, then why is that limited to firearms? I want a Stinger Missile and by God its my right as an American to have one!
UPDATE: What's the libertarian position on orphanages and foster homes?
This is not to say that we should just bend to the every whim of an "international community" in which the opinion of the Burmese military junta gets equal weight with that of the elected representatives of the people of New Zealand (and, indeed, people would be well-advised to remember that when they're proposing that we seek a UN mandate for something what they're really proposing is that we give the Chinese Communist Party a veto over our actions), but we have to work with --- and within --- the world as it actually exists.
The assassination illustrates the problems facing President Hamid Karzai just weeks after a Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly, of Afghan leaders approved a new cabinet to lead the country out of 23 years of war and prepare for elections in 18 months time.How does it illustrate that? Except in the sense that newspaper reporters invariably insist that ethnic conflict in Afghanistan is about to ruin everything, it doesn't. They don't even have any idea who killed this guy or why. Haji Qadir was a perfect example of exactly the sort of reconciliation the media are always telling Karzai he needs to engage in. Qadir was a Pashtun, but he also had close ties to the Northern Alliance. The fact is that the greatest challenge facing Karzai is the same as the challenge that's been facing Afghanistan for the past decade --- out-of-control Islamic fundamentalism.
The assembly faced the tough task of finding a government acceptable to the Pashtun majority, the Northern Alliance which had a strong hand on the ground, and the various warlords who dominate swathes of the country.
Friday, July 05, 2002
Others are excited because this new, important result actually gives insight into why the result occurred in the first place. "If you look at the numbers over the past two decades, you can see that Americans have been placing less and less faith in the old maxim 'Correlation is not Causation' as time progresses." explained pollster and pop media icon Sarah Purcell. "Now, with the results of the latest poll, we are able toNow that's what I call journalism.
determine that people's lack of belief in correlation not being causal has caused correlation to now become causal. It is a real advance in the field of meta-epistemology."
I think McErlaine makes a mistake, though, when he follows many voucher proponents in analogizing vouchers for private elementary and secondary schooling to federal aid for people to go to college. When kids pick colleges that's really a choice they make, when kids pick an elementary school, though, that's a choice their parents make for them. I can't really object to the idea of people choosing for themselves to receive a religious education --- that's their right, even if I don't agree --- but a child is more than simply an extension of his parents' will and I don't like the idea of some kid being taught, say, that evolution is false because of a choice his parents made. At the end of the day, if vouchers work work then that would be a lesser evil than having kids go to schools where they don't learn anything at all, so I'll be eager to wait a few years and try and see the results.
The problem with our current Mid-East policy isn't that we're not pursuing a policy of democratization and liberalization forcefully enough, it's that we're not pursuing such a policy at all. Our stated view of the awful Saudi monarchy is that it's A Good Thing and that the Egyptian military dictatorship is likewise A Good Thing. The dictatorships in Iraq and Syria are said to be Bad Things, but given our policy toward Saudi Arabia and Egypt it's clear that our opposition to the Ba'athist regimes isn't a principled opposition to dictatorships, but rather pique that they're not more compliant to our wishes. Given that dynamic, it's no wonder that ordinary people in the Arab world aren't exactly welcoming more US intervention in the region.
Working out the exact details of policy is, of course, extremely complicated and I don't really think an armchair pundit like myself is qualified to figure out precisely how we should proceed. It doesn't take an expert, however, to look at the situation in Saudi Arabia and see that the Saudi population (and the Jordanian, Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi, etc. populations) deserve something better. If the President of the United States were to stand up and say what everyone knows --- that absolute monarchy is bad, that secret police forces are bad, that democracies are good, that women deserve equal rights --- that the Arab people deserve better than what they're getting, that would be a start.
Thursday, July 04, 2002
I don't like to write about the Middle East. I don't even like to think about it. It's a dismaying quagmire of blind religious hatred and irrational Dark Ages thinking on all sides, impervious to logic or reason, perhaps the greatest imponderable stupidity in humankind's history. I give a slight moral advantage to the Israelis because at least they aren't exporting terrorism and the slaughter of innocents, as many of the Islamic countries in the area routinely do.I felt pretty much exactly as Charles did back then and now I feel more-or-less the way he does now, and I'd guess that we've changed our minds for the same reasons.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A gunman opened fire Thursday at the ticket counter of Israel's El Al airlines at Los Angeles International Airport, killing one person before being shot dead, police said.No real understanding yet of who did this or why, but frankly given the fact that it was an El Al ticket counter I'm not exactly holding my breath.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
In light of the struggle for hard-hitting political commentary, Rall's removal from the New York Times website seems to be another example of the mainstream media's post-9/11 penchant for censorship. It's hard not to be sympathetic to those widows who wrote to the Times in their own defense. Their grief cannot be comprehended by most of us, including Rall. But one also cannot stand behind the editors of the Times. Whisking away controversial material is no answer.Let's try this once again folks. When the government tells you what you're allowed to read or write, that's called "censorship," when the editors of a newspaper make decisions about what material they're going to print, that's called "editing." No one has a right to have their work published in The New York Times nor does anyone have the right to have their favorite cartoons published in The New York Times.
Note: See, pace Jarvis it's not too hot to be clever you've just gotta pump up the AC.
The Islamic critique as exemplified by Qutb is quite similar to the critique that the classical philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle, made of freedom. The classical thinkers would have agreed with Qutb that virtue, not freedom, is the ultimate goal of a good society. And in saying this they would be quite right. How, then, can the Islamic argument against America be answered on its own terms?For my money, the only thing worse than the classical philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle, are conservative writers who abandon all the reasonably good commonsense empirical reasons to be a conservative and choose instead to dwell in the dark cesspool that is nostalgia for war-plagued Golden Age Athens and its slave economy. But don't take my word for it, go read Alasdair McIntyre's After Virtue and see the D'Souza viewpoint put forward by someone who's not a moron and you'll realize that it still doesn't make any damn sense. On the other hand, I do agree with the line of thought in contemporary "Aristotelian" thinking that attacks the sterile proceduralism of much of contemporary liberal philosophizing. My recommendation -- Joseph Raz's The Morality of Freedom which argues that freedom (well, autonomy, really) is virtue, letting us have our cake and eat it too. Good times except that it's written in the Raz/Dummett/Parfit "I teach at Oxford so I can write like shit" style. Oh well....
I don't know where to begin with this story, about a Pakistani girl gang-raped as punishment for her brother's flirtation with a girl not from his social class. But we might begin by reaffirming that Stanley Fish is wrong. There can be universal reasonable standards that say some things are wrong, period. This is one of them.But no. Fish never claimed that people didn't sometimes think that things were really really bad or even deny that he himself had those opinions. I think what this tribal court did was terrible, as does Sullivan, and as does everyone else who reads this blog, but the fact that we all agree doesn't make our opinion any more objective.
On the plus side, the Pakistani government seems to be cracking down, so the scope of the pathology is more limited than one might have feared at first.
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
Over 75 percent of white Americans own their home, and less than 50 percent of Hispanos and African Americans don't own their home. And that's a gap, that's a homeownership gap. And we've got to do something about it.but it occured to me while reading it that I thought Bush was (trying) to express a worthy sentiment here and also the kind of thing that conservatives would jump all over if a Democrat said it (the term "racial preferences" might come up, along with endless protestations that hip and cool conservatives are so color blind that they don't even notice when their token black congressman decides to quit) and the fact that they don't is probably the best evidence of all that the whole "compassionate conservatism" act is a total sham -- if Bush actually planned to do anything about the situation he's noting, the right would be letting us know about it.
That means that the government won't be handing over Johnny's D.C. public school tuition to Sidwell Friends without making sure Sidwell is doing things right -- i.e. pursuant to government mandates. If I were a private school headmaster, I'd be doing my darndest right now to figure out how to insulate my institution from federal mandates, even if it means denying admittance to all voucher kids.I think that this is a real possibility, but I seriously doubt that private schools will have any serious problems with simply turning voucher folks away. Non-Catholic private schools like Sidwell Friends and the places where I went to school cost way more money than any voucher proposal I've ever heard of and they rely, in addition, on significant contributions of money from well-off parents, so the chances of vouchers infiltrating such places seem rather slim. Another things that vouchers are technically supposed to let you do is use your voucher to pay an out-of-town suburban school to let you go there, but when they tried this is Cleveland none of the suburban districts would participate. Schools just don't really seem all that hungry for government vouchers, and they're certainly not hungry for more government oversight, so I think they'll probably just say "no."
Have you examined whether Mr. Z has connections to the biggest anthrax outbreak among humans ever recorded, the one that sickened more than 10,000 black farmers in Zimbabwe in 1978-80? There is evidence that the anthrax was released by the white Rhodesian Army fighting against black guerrillas, and Mr. Z has claimed that he participated in the white army's much-feared Selous Scouts. Could rogue elements of the American military have backed the Rhodesian Army in anthrax and cholera attacks against blacks? Mr. Z's résumé also claims involvement in the former South African Defense Force; all else aside, who knew that the U.S. Defense Department would pick an American who had served in the armed forces of two white-racist regimes to work in the American biodefense program with some of the world's deadliest germs?Now I obviously don't know whether or not this Mr. Z is the man we're looking for, but he doesn't sound like a good candidatet to be a biodefense specialist, or even a resident of the United States of America to me. Especially given the signs the white supremacist groups and Islamic militants are showing willingness to ally (they share so much!) someone really ought to be looking into exactly how many veterans of the wrong side of Southern Africa's campaign against white supremacy are bouncing around our part of the world and how many of them are currently holding, shall we say "sensitive" positions with the US government.
Monday, July 01, 2002
Given that Reich and Stein are competing for essentially the same electorate it's pretty hard to see the logic here.
I'd also note that there's a whiff of antisemitism in the notion that Jewish Americans are somehow nothing more than pro-Israel mercenaries ready to shift our votes whichever way Ariel Sharon tells us to. Plus, the whole idea of a realignment seems to be premised on the notion that there's been some outbreak of anti-Israel sentiment from within the Democratic Party, but if that's going on, I certainly haven't seen it.
"The premises he used were false, therefore his conclusions were false," said Dudley Sharp of Justice For All. "It is astounding that he would make judgments based on those studies ... which have so many errors and inaccuracies in them."This is totally wrong -- while, of course, the falsity of one or more of the premises of an argument doesn't speak particularly well of the conclusion, it's perfectly possible for an argument with a false premise to have a true conclusion. For any p, one can infer that p or q so from the (false) premise 2+2=5, one can validly infer that 2+2=5 or Matt is hungry which, as it happens, is also false, but one can infer from that that Matt is hungry or 2+2=5 or Matt is not hungry which is perfectly true.
Bringing the discussion back down to earth, it should be obvious that it doesn't follow from the (purported) inaccuracies in the studies that the death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment, though if they are inaccurate then one shouldn't attempt to use them in an argument for that conclusion.
In the wake of the ludicrous court ruling on the pledge of allegiance, there has an outpouring of patriotic sentiment by Members of Congress.This conflation of "patriotic sentiment" and the proposition that we are "one nation, under God" illustrates precisely why the 9th Circuit made the correct decision. Most Americans, of course, is patriotic and our government, including our schools, should certainly take a patriotic attitude. Asking students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance is a sign of that patriotism. The courts have long ago (and rightly) concluded that if a student does not wish to participate in the performance of the pledge they cannot be coerced into it. That's perfectly appropriate -- America would not be a country worth being patriotic about if it forced its citizens to declare their patriotism. The question is -- what does any of this have to do with God? The pledge as currently written insinuates that one cannot be a patriotic American if one is an atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Buddhist, or what have you. Of course, such people can take advantage of the opportunity to not recite the pledge at all if we wish, but failure to pledge is seen as indicating a lack of patriotism. Students who do not believe that we are "one nation, under God" are forced to choose between maintaining that we are or being excluded from an important civic ritual. The problem here is not with the harm that is done to the student, but rather with the harm that is done to the country when it excludes would-be patriots because of their religious beliefs.
Obvious outraged question -- are you saying pro-lifers are as bad as HAMAS and al Qaeda? No -- just similarly disingenuous. And pro-choicers are never duplicitous? No -- it's just that we're right. Weren't you supposed to be stealing The Professor's schtick, not Kaus's? Indeed.
Three of his books speak about Islamic revival. One of these shows the practicality of Islam and the other two are on the Muslim Brotherhood: One explains their role in defending Palestine and the other explains the need for the movement and its approach.So the founder of a brutal theocratic terrorist organization is an admired scholar. As Ms. Craig says -- those are the Saudis, our partners in peace; I'm not outraged, I'm barely even surprised.
Sunday, June 30, 2002
At Stanford, she has been a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution. Her books include Germany Unified and Europe Transformed (1995) with Philip Zelikow, The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander Dallin, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984). She also has written numerous articles on Soviet and East European foreign and defense policy, and has addressed audiences in settings ranging from the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Moscow to the Commonwealth Club to the 1992 and 2000 Republican National Conventions.She is, in other words, an expert on Soviet, Russian, and Eastern European affairs and, as such, made a very good choice to be an important advisor in the Reagan and Bush administrations when the main foreign policy problems facing the United States involved the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It's pretty clear, however, that we're now mostly dealing with problems relating to the Middle East and Central Asia and, frankly, having a Russia expert be the President's chief foreign policy advisors currently makes about as much sense as hiring an expert on the Islamic world to direct the Cold War would have.
From 1989 through March 1991, the period of German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union, she served in the Bush Administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1997, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender -- Integrated Training in the Military."