Fair And Balanced
Fox News Crawl: "Could 9/11 have been avoided if Moussaoui was tortured?"
Submitted without comment.
Whack fol me darn O, dance to your partner
Whirl the floor, your trotters shake
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake?!!!
Fox News Crawl: "Could 9/11 have been avoided if Moussaoui was tortured?"
I get at something that's been bothering me for a while:
Krywanczyk and Johnston, quite clearly, have very few political or even aesthetic sensibilities in common -- at least on the surface. Below the skin, they are far closer ideologically than either would be happy to realize. What unites them is the lazy approach to political writing that is everywhere -- left, right and center. To wit: A writer sits down at her desk, hoping to make a political argument. She has a general sense of what she would like to say, but has not yet thought through her argument with precision. She has two choices: 1) Do the slow, hard work of thinking before committing any words to paper, and the even slower, harder work of precise writing; 2) Skip thinking about her argument, and use her energy instead to cover up foolish and half-baked ideas with a mass of jargon and nonsense phrases, illogic and hand-waving. Across all ideological divisions, the overwhelming majority of political writers choose the second option, because it is easier.
Unfortunately, such laziness is not benign. The language that bad political writing debases is a communal resource, and not every instance of slovenly language is innocent. Orwell had his favorite examples: "Marshal Petain was a true patriot"; "The Soviet Press is the freest in the world"; "The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution"; and we might add another, courtesy of our president, "We do not torture." Sentences such as these have long ceased to express anything resembling their ordinary language meanings, and instead are almost exclusively used to make vague and general declarations of political allegiance.
Once the menu of well-worked out theories is before us, philosophy is a matter of opinion. Is that to say that there is no truth to be had? Or that the truth is of our own making, and different ones of us can make it differently? Not at all! If you say flatly that there is no god, and I say that there are countless gods but none of them are our worldmates, then it may be that neither of us is making any mistake of method. We may each be bringing our opinions to equilibrium in the most careful possible way, taking account of all the arguments, distinctions, and counterexamples. But one of us, at least, is making a mistake of fact. Which one is wrong depends on what there is...---David Lewis, Introduction to Philosophical Papers (vol. I).
I am perhaps the most extreme polytheist going. If, as I suppose, a being does not have to satisfy some inconsistent description to be a god, then I take the number of the gods to be at least [beth-2]. Unlike most polytheists, however, I think of this world we live in as entirely godless.
Over at Glenn Greenwald's site, very interesting stuff, as ever, on the Congress-DOJ interactions over the wiretapping insanity. From the almost always superb comments section, here's a wonderful example of a question put by Democrats to the DOJ folks, and the DoJ response:Question: 43. Has information obtained through warrantless NSA interceptions been used in any criminal prosecutions?
. . . but, the left-blogosphere just pushed back real hard and real fast. Good for them.
In response to John Cole, my good friend Finn, and the general uproar of "good sense," mainstream anti-isolation heroes of the left and right, I just want to put in my two, thoroughly under-informed, cents. I am not prone to isolationsim, and I don't think there is a problem as such with foreign national companies outsourced to handle certain infrastructure -- such is the way of an inter-dependent world, and in the long run, ties of mutual business interest may have an ameliorative effect on violent jingoism. However, what the critics of many of the critics of the Ports deal -- though certainly not all -- miss, is that the deal was infuriating to certain quarters because of the ideologiacl dissonance it evinced. The Bush regime has risen to power by welding together a range of phobias, ignorances, and parnoias, in the name of Americanism, and with the aim of occluding what is, in general, an old-fashion pro-concentrated-and-unequal wealth agenda. With the Dubai Ports deal, the regimists suddenly said, no, no, no, we are most certainly NOT racist, chauvinistic, and ignorant operators -- we are modern men with a pro-business and pro-globalization agenda, who are willing to accept minor ideological deviance on the part of our business partners.
John Cole doesn't disappoint:
At this rate, by next week I fully expect Duncan Black, Jane Hamsher, and Howard Dean to join hands with Tom Tancredo demanding that a 50 foot wall with laser beams, concertina, and landmines be built on our border with Mexico.In other news, if the assertion expressed by this headline turns out to hold up, then the government of the United States is, in fact, elective monarchy. So, I'd suggest that the good folks at the Washington Post and New York Times, whose business it presumably is to report facts, prepare tomorrow's front-pager as "Government of United States is Elective Monarchy."
The Smoking Gun has the list of demands the Vice President's staff gives to hotels where ol' Dick'll be staying. Nothing outrageous, although asking for "Diet Caffeine Free Sprite" shows how much he knows: Sprite was developed as a caffeine free drink. And then there's this:
All Televisions tuned to FOX News (please let the advance office know if it is satellite or cable television)I can sympathize with not wanting to have to deal with folks on TV giving an exegesis of what a fucking monster you are. One solution is to change the channel; the other....
Three blogs getting added to the roll:
Perhaps it's obvious that I'm holding out hope for South Park to be a salutary influence on political culture; the potential is there, but so is the potential for co-optation into this nonsense. Matt and Trey are not prophets, and the bulk of South Park's fan base in all likelihood doesn't comprehend its indictment of their parentalism. It's up to activists --- this is to stave off getting accused of hating activism (or politics in general) again --- to abolish the regnant autocracy of spirit in New York, Washington, London, Berlin, the Hague, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, Princeton and everywhere else.
[This post is dedicated to that girl--ed.]
If what you know about "The O’Reilly Factor" comes mainly from its opponents on the left—from movies like "Outfoxed" and Web sites like Media Matters—and you watch it regularly for a while, you’ll be surprised by how little of the content these days is political. "The O’Reilly Factor" is, increasingly, not a conservative show but a cop show—"O’Reilly: Special Victims Unit," perhaps—devoted particularly to sex offenders; the host, in effect, is Shannon Michaels playing Tommy O'Malley [the split O'Reilly alter-egos of his gruesome novel]. Once, when Howard Stern was asked to explain his success, he said that he owed it to lesbians. O’Reilly owes his to child molesters.[...]O'Reilly is the id of George Bush's America, and something like the type-defining token of many of the pathologies of our political culture. Whether the right analysis is Nietzschean or Freudian (or something else) --- i.e., whether the motive force is sex or power or both or neither --- I leave as an open question.
The connection between the scourge of child sex abuse and liberals whom O’Reilly doesn’t like—a long list that includes George Clooney, Hillary Clinton, Paul Krugman, and Alec Baldwin—may not be obvious, but, to O’Reilly’s way of thinking, both are part of a national climate of permissiveness and relativism. This is manifested in the unprovable, but no doubt painful, loss of the norms that O’Reilly and his audience remember growing up with. The implied connection, anyway, gives O’Reilly a good pretext for the odd but compelling mixture of subjects on “The O’Reilly Factor,” with foreign policy one minute, a lurid (one might even say titillating) sex crime the next, and the Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof’s latest unfair attack on O’Reilly the next. (O’Reilly is feuding with Kristof, who has assembled from readers’ pledges a notional fund to send O’Reilly on a reporting trip to Darfur. O’Reilly recently parried by saying that the Times “continues to ignore the child predator situation here in the U.S.A.”) It would be useless to accuse O’Reilly of trafficking in cultural symbols and not substance, because to him cultural symbols are substance. Like every artist, he has created a territory that is distinctively his, and under anyone else’s supervision would not cohere.
The thing is, the show doesn't do things to push the envelope--it just does them because they're funny, from a talking taco that craps ice cream to Satanist woodland critters trying to incarnate the Antichrist. This lack of forcedness is what makes the show so twisted: they can do literally anything, and it would be hard to be surprised. That what makes "Scott Tenorman Must Die" the greatest South Park episode of all time, for Cartman exacts a revenge so shocking that it changes his character forever, from sociopath to psychopath: the show manages to redefine its own boundaries at the same time that it violates every expectation the audience could ever have had.My only complaint is that I wish Alex had gone on at a bit more length. I'd agree that "Scott Tenorman Must Die" is the most important episode in the show's history, the definitive break between its funny-but-still- gimmicky early seasons and what Matt and Trey have done since (to be sure, the later elements were present to some degree at least from the second season, with "Underpants Gnomes" a particular highlight of the early period). As for the greatest episode, both my qualitative and quantitative intuitions pull a lot of different ways. Viscerally, "Cartmanland" is somewhere near my favorite simply in virtue of being an absurdist retelling of Job (and one of the best ever). The funniest premise for an episode (I think) belongs to "The Red Badge of Gayness" which I won't try to summarize except to say that it's not what you think. The episode that made me laugh the most was "Woodland Critter Christmas."
It's 10:15 AM. I have to run to class, and thus cannot live blog such an event. But Bush is giving a presser write now and he looks and is acting/speaking like an absolute wreck. Jumpy. He keeps sliding his shoulders/upper torso back and forth across an invisible reptilian plane and doing very bizarre things with his face.
An article in the WSJ details a slew of new books by various Army officers and military experts on the paradigm of fighting in Vietnam. Essentially, these histories are revisions of the old, and obviously erroneous, theory that Vietnam was lost because of civilian command and media reluctance to commit more troops and an even larger, devestating footprint. Our footprint was grand. The books are also written now, and increasingly popular among today's commanders, because they argue that in order to effectively succeed in Iraq, we must learn the lessons of a failed Vietnam strategy. What I find so darkly humorous about all this is essentially the military folks are saying: "Iraq is another Vietnam, and we have been repeating some of our mistakes there, and we must learn what we did wrong in Vietnam." So yes, what rabid communist and terrorist-loving critics of the war have been saying since before it began, that Iraq risks being another Vietnam, is, in fact, the going conclusion amongst the war-intellects. So when citizens said "You're making the same mistake you did in Vietnam" and were considered risible, they were, in fact, correct. And now that is totally accepted by the war-establishment. Maybe just not the traitorous lunatics who push the Bush mirage.
And in other news . . .
The question ASull is dealing with in this post is, I think, a fascinating one. I disagree with his conclusion, however. As much as the religious fundamentalism and anti-empiricism of the current Bushite movement is clear, Sullivan's proposed structure where a few bribes to big business are glued on to the central Christianist fundamentalism is inexact. And the inexactitude has everything to do with what most "mainstream" bi-coastal intellects don't want to admit: Hyper-growth, monopolistic capitalism is fundamentalist, is irrational, and is anti-empiricist. Fealty to big business and fealty to an incomprehensible, vengeful and bigoted God dovetail quite nicely in most instances.
Glenn Reynolds :
1. Did you support the invasion of Iraq?And here's where Reynolds takes his cues:
2. Have you changed your position?
No. Sanctions were failing and Saddam was a threat, making any other action in the region impossible.
3. What should the U.S. do in Iraq now?
Alan: Well, last week we showed you how to become a gynaecologist. And this week on 'How to do it' we're going to show you how to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable, but first, here's Jackie to tell you all how to rid the world of all known diseases.
Jackie: Hello, Alan.
Alan: Hello, Jackie.
Jackie: Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any diseases ever again.
In this NYT article about the third-anniversary protests against the war in Iraq these lines stood out:
So...here's what's been up:
Wednesday, March 15, 2006Pete, Pal, and Graham: what assholes.
We’re doing some maintenance on one of our
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Pete at 12:32
March 16, 2006
The filer that we have been having trouble with in the last
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Posted by Pal at 21:14
March 18, 2006
A clarification about the filer we restored yesterday: This
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Posted by Graham at 08:22
Dog bites man: As Democratic senators respond to Russell Feingold's censure motion by soiling their expensive-but-not-too-expensive-looking trousers and pastel pantsuits, it turns out that a plurality of the public is with Feingold. The evidence that Bush committed multiple felonies is overwhelming; the public support is there; and the crimes are ongoing today; what does Bush still have left to do in order to get impeached? A gay affair with an intern?
No, we're not nearly done yet. When we left off with Yale's resident Catholic football player struggling to tread water in a sea of liberalism, the old sport was upset with me for not observing Catholic dictates on acceptable terms of address for Josef Ratzinger. Let's say I were in principle prepared to engage in idolatrous worship of a creepy septuagenarian ex-Hitler youth. How to resolve the incompatability of Ratzinger-cultism with the classical liberal conception of inalienable personal and democratic rights?
This principle [that "the right to freedom of thought and expression...cannot imply the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers"](2) Deny that words mean what they mean:
applies obviously for any religion. This is an unsigned diplomatic release from “the Vatican.” The Vatican is not an entity that can speak for itself. The Catholic Church is not an entity that can speak for itself. Only people can speak, thus some unknown person made this statement. It is most likely from a papal diplomat...
This is not a moral statement. It is not His Holiness the Pope, Benedict XVI speaking ex cathedra and infallibly on faith and morals. It is a potentially errant diplomatic statement regarding responsible practices of free speech in the current international climate.
In no way is the statement claiming that the Catholic Church is “opposed to individual and civil rights”.(3) Affirm the contents of the statement:
[I]n civilized society, there exists the need for peaceful coexistence and thus ideas of moderate freedoms of religion and speech exist.(4) Identify which fundamental freedoms you oppose in addition to those Ratzinger has anathematized:
Nor is the Catholic Church going soft on Islam. It is still positively maintained that Islam is a heretical religion based on the false revelation of a fake prophet. Theological freedom of religion is never condoned.A stunning feat of meta-theoretical agility! Get that boy a research grant so that we can finally settle the matter of how many angels fit on the head of a pin and prove that damnliar Copernicus wrong.
[T]he US and many countries are imperfect. Thus the need to demand the end to abortion, marriage reform, banning "gay marriage", contraception, pornography, etc.Nope, nothing totalitarian about that.
Keep in mind that ALL THAT IS BUILT ON UNREALITY CANNOT LAST FOREVER.Yeah, that's the ticket.
What does it take to get the New York-Hollywood gang to stop with their Catholic bashing? Threats of beheadings? Threats of lawsuits? Seems that way. What ever happened to common decency?Try what works, says I.
You know what they say: J'ai toujours fait une prière à Dieu, qui est fort courte. La voici: Mon Dieu, rendez nos ennemis bien ridicules! Dieu m'a exaucé.
A Catholic Yale football player attempts to stay afloat amidst a sea of liberalism.So you know it's going to be good stuff.
The most disgraceful reaction [to the Intoonfada] of all came -- try to act surprised -- from the Vatican, which claimed that "the right to freedom of expression does not imply the right to offend religious beliefs." Thus does Cardinal Ratzinger's church put us on notice, yet again, that it is positively opposed to individual and civil rights.Now, had I been writing about Cardinal Ratzinger's fascism and its various implications (inasmuch as he's an object of delusional mass-veneration) for non-Catholics, lay Catholics, and Catholic clergy, I would have given a more systematic account of said fascism. Instead, I was writing about craven Western responses to the Intoonfada, the limiting case of such cravenness of course being endorsement of the Islamo-fascists' programmatic goals: you're not a cowardly defender of freedom of conscience if you're against freedom of conscience. (Or as Ratzinger apparently believes, "Das Gewissen der Menschheit bin Ich." [You're not supposed to capitalize the 'i' in 'ich', but you're also supposed to have learnt the lessons of the Second World War--ed.]) So space constraints did not permit me to do a proper conceptual analysis of Ratzinger, though I did lay the groundwork previously. In any case, a book project accurately codenamed Awful Things You Should Know About Josef Ratzinger faces a similar problem to expressing a googolplex in decimal notation, namely that the number of character spaces in an unabridged edition would exceed the number of fundamental particles in the universe; hence it is nomically impossible to complete such a project. Nevertheless, even incomplete accounts of, e.g., Ratzinger's love of war criminals and hatred of people with healthier sex lives than himself, are sure to be illuminating.
First of all his name is Pope Benedict XVI. I understand that you might have had a midterm or something but there were a few things in the news about Joseph Ratzinger being elected the new Pope. But since you’re a little out of touch with the news (and reality), let me fill you in. You have a variety of titles to choose from, so pick one or more:If you stare hard enough, you can just about watch the dicksucking as it unfolds. (By the way, I do sort of make an effort to keep up with these things.) In any case, multiple-time readers of this site are probably aware of how much bad semantics annoys me on its own, let alone in the service of foul politics; his name is not 'Pope Benedict XVI'; his name is 'Josef Ratzinger'. 'Pope Benedict XVI' is the unearned honorofic that Ratzinger demanded the world use to denote him, to which bullying pomposity the world outside his ossified curia shamefully acquiesced. It is quite correct that I don't refer to Presidents Bush or Clinton as "Governor"; but S.A.S. helpfully provides a necessary condition on such a referential convention, namely that a certain quantity of respect is due the individuals falling under that convention. As for the catechism of fellatial homages, what is significant about the list is that all its members are definite descriptions. And as Schmalhofer doesn't know, definite descriptions are non-rigid designators; hence they pick out the unique individual at any given world who satisfies them; hence, if zero or two or more individuals satisfy them, the descriptions pick out no one.
His Holiness The Pope
Bishop of Rome
Vicar of Jesus Christ
Successor of the Prince of the Apostles
Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church (Pontifex Maximus)
Patriarch of the West
Primate of Italy
Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province
Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City
Servant of the Servants of God
I know you don’t call Presidents Bush or Clinton, “Governors”. So try to afford the Pope his due respect.
For a rare example of what should be the content of the Sunday morning chat shows, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Russell Feingold puts his modus where his ponens is:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But as you know, the President says he was acting on his inherent authority under the Constitution, and even your resolution acknowledges that no federal court has ruled that a president does not have that authority as commander in chief, so aren’t you jumping the gun?See that? Simple, simple, simple. No need to conjure up a Hegelian synthesis; just ascertain the facts, and see what beliefs are occasioned by the lights of the going theory (in this case, the corpus of American law).
FEINGOLD: Not at all. You know, we’ve had a chance here for three months to look at whether there’s any legal basis for this, and they’re using shifting legal justifications. First they try to argue that somehow under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act they can do this. It’s pretty clear that they can’t. Then there’s the argument that somehow the military authorization for Afghanistan allowed this. This has basically been laughed out of the room in the Congress. So the last resort is to somehow say that the president has inherent authority to ignore the law of the United States of America, and that has the consequence that the president could even order the assassination of American citizens if that’s the law. So there is no sort of independent inherent authority that allows the president to override the laws passed by the Congress of the United States.
No fooling. There's no point trying to excerpt, but here's the lede:
Now that the political row in Washington over the Dubai Ports deal is settled, it is time to face the real consequences of this shameful spasm of demagoguery and Arabophobia masquerading as a concern for national security.Incidentally, I saw Martin Walker on the McLaughlin Group today, making Tony Blankley look even more Jabba-the-Huttish than usual.
I'm a bit late getting to this Kieran Healy post, but then again it's sort of timeless:
On the other hand, although often ignored in English-speaking countries, it is nevertheless an important fact that an elite French education can entail learning quite a lot of math in addition to ploughing through the great philosophers. So your typical Next Big French Intellectual often has the wherewithal to bug the shite out of technoids and comp-litters, although only one of these constituencies is typically targeted.Who manages to pull off the rare-double header? Click here to find out.
As Drum notes. Does Glenn Reynolds have any idea what he's saying:
The press had better hope we win this war, because if we don't, a lot of people will blame the media.That's right, the US-lib-ruhl media, dastardly dogs, built a time machine and provoked the succession controversy in early Islam because they suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. Why do they hate America?
When Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Cheney's Pocket) runs out of parliamentary manouvers to block an investigation into administration's felony wire-tapping, the only sensible thing to do is change the rules of the committee. This is how 5-year olds behave.
I'm prepared to accept that the GWOT requires indefinite detention of people who pose a real existential threat to the United States, but I'm yet to be convinced that the executive branch should have unreviewable fiat in deciding who is to be indefinitely incarcerated.Well, I mean, a real existential threat has to be stopped, period, GWOT or no GWOT. But come on. Can we get real about this GWOT thing? There is almost nothing the US can't outlast or survive, except time. Until and unless Islamic culture changes to the point at which their fundamentalism entails hating gay people peacefully, there will always be Islamic terrorists. We defeat them by giving in to none of their demands; they don't matter. There is no GWOT.
Andrew Sullivan: "I remember distinctly deciding not to study theology in college, despite my intense interest, because I was frightened that the more I understood, the less I would believe."
Not to steer the blog away from its current analytic maelstrom, but here's something I thought interesting to consider. I'm working on little sleep, so maybe I'm wrong and it's not. Digby has a series of posts about a woman who got pregnant, already has two kids, and can't afford a third. Had an abortion. He then posts a response from a pro-life, anti-left blogger, and disagrees with its conclusion, that sex is a choice, and like other choices, cigarette smoking, fast-food scarfing, you suffer the consequences (I'm oversimplifying -- read the response). If you can't afford to get pregnant, the logic goes, "don't fuck." Digby responds with an argument along the lines that sex is elemental, you can't expect the poor, etc., to not fuck. And that such an expectation deprives people of their humanity.
Well, now let me say that I am one-hundred percent for legal abortions. I think they should be legal under almost any conceivable circumstance, and you just can't have a judge, senator, etc., providing oversight on anything like this. However, I find Digby's argument weak, and it actually makes me a little queasy. A lot of it is based on the idea that we humans have a sex-drive, and that it is just basic, and while we are not just humping animals, as Digby's interlocutor implies Digby implies, "sex is elemental." Well, yes, I guess it is, on an evolutionary sort of level at least.
But the idea that the ability to have sex when we want it, knowing that we will be able to have abortions if necessary, is an ability which if interdicted leads to the death of our "humanity," I think is overblown. People abstain from sex. Some folks are celibate. Some folks only have sex once in a long while. (And lots of folks are gay and don't face the same sex/pregnacy question). I'm not trying to be a prude. And I certainly sleep/fuck better at night, knowing that abortions are legal. As they should be. But to me the abortion argument should begin and end in an individual rights framework. Arguments that start arguing for the moral necessity of abortions based on human sex-drive, or some other quasi-biological factor, put the Left in the position that the technocratic right (see Steve Pinker, Larry Summers, and much worse) is embracing these days. Don't start arguing morality on the basis of naturalistic descriptions of drives, impulses, etc.
On a basis of individual liberty, I disagree with Digby's respondent. And in no way am I going condemn anyone for getting an abortion, least of all a mother of two, who can't afford to raise another. I do not have the moral authority, nor do I think anyone else does. More power to her. But I'm not really going to get into it with someone like Digby's respondent on a moral framework. Individual responsibility in a case like this seems to be a moral issue that I can differentiate from the basic point that the woman should do what is best for her, and I'm not going to get up in her business. But I am unwilling, and especially in the context of an ineluctable "sex-drive" argument, to boldly attack the respondent's moral framework. Notice he/she doesn't say the woman should not be allowed to have an abortion -- only that he/she doesn't think it's a moral thing.
I don't think we should get in the business of telling folks like that they are wrong or immoral. Just gently point out to them a few things in the New Test. about casting first stones, etc. And let the moral issues work themselves out in the margins.
Of course, if this kind of moral rhetoric is used to pursue abortion restrictions, then blast the hell out of it, and call the whole lot of 'em fascists. That's what I do.
UPDATE 1: Amanda at Pandagon takes Digby's view, and even more elaborately. I'm not insensitive to the point at all. I am just not comfortable, on a theoretical and on a practical level, in taking as axiom #1 in the abortion debate that everyone needs/wants to have sex all the time.
UPDATE 2: I want to clarify something in my "argument" above. My attempt to create a dichotomy between an "individual rights framework" and a "moral framework" is specious. My belief in the supremacy of individual liberty must itself be acknowledged as a moral position. I don't have any strong confidence in the type of juridical hand-waving that, via pathetic fallecy, identifies a non-moral basis of belief in written law. So I am asserting the supremacy of a morality of individual rights over any specific moral position in the debate about the morality of abortion qua abortion. I just don't think that the morality to which I would refer can be articulated in the language of a subordinate morality that deals with abortion in particular.
After the stage at which children outgrow being taught the meanings of 'good', 'bad', 'right', 'wrong', etc. by ostension, there should no longer be any moral component to education. Instead, upon entering school, children should be taught the means to answer the question, "What are the epistemic obligations entailed by my beliefs?" Methodologically, it isn't difficult: take an inventory of your beliefs, and then simply determine what propositions bear a logical consequence relation to the conjunction of all the propositions contained in your beliefs; then simply stand in the propositional attitude of belief to whatever new propositions you discovered. As for practicality, one of the amazing discoveries of cognitive sciences is that everyone knows the rules of first order logic, it's just that people have to be taught the proper way to apply those rules. And that's so easy even a child could do it. The only hard part is the inventory taking; there should be a period or two every school week devoted to that ("Jimmy, what did I tell you about doing homework when you're supposed to be pondering!").
My thoughts about ceratin linguistic conventions have a tendency to create breakdowns in communication, so it might behoove me to leave this note for anyone yet to scroll down the page:
Andrew Sullivan picked a doozy for his quote of the day:
"And then you have a blithering idiot like Lou Dobbs, in my view, who's using the platform of CNN in ... the frame of a news show. This is not news. And so we have a political class not making sense of the world for people and that's why the public ... is so agitated," - Tom Friedman, at Yale [Law School]Now, to be sure, only someone in denial would deny that Lou Dobbs is a fat xenophobic oilslick whose metaphysical thisness has the essential property of being a hazard on the road of meaningful cultural and intellectual progress. All the same, did Tom Friedman say something about "a political class not making sense of the world." You mean, like this?
Jamie's piece cited one spot down-blog mostly isn't argumentation, but this is a very important point:
Don't expect a word of protest [about a Taliban propaganda official's admission to Yale] from our feminist and gay groups, who now have in their midst a live remnant of one of the most misogynistic and homophobic regimes ever. They're busy hunting bogeymen like frat parties and single-sex bathrooms.I don't think I've ever read an adherent of, e.g., current left-feminist orthodoxy directly engage with the problem that Taliban-like phenomena pose for their beliefs. (There's no shortage of indirect engagements by means of subject changing.)
I usually only comment on topics about which I've formed an opinion after at least some reflection, so I was going to wait until my reflection-precluding bafflement subsided before I devoted a word to the news that a former member of the Taliban is now a Yale freshman. Jamie Kirchick's got a fairly comprehensive piece on it in today's YDN, however, that raises some tangential points that would be worth getting into right now. First, he refers to this letter from yesterday's paper:
To the Editor:Jamie, on the specific question of whether ideology should be a factor in admissions decisions, responds: "I believe it should not. But an applicant's employment as an agent for a declared enemy of the United States that abetted a terrorist attack that took the lives of some 3,000 civilians is another matter." Well, right. Assuming all the reports are accurate, there's a bonafide Taliban in old blue's class of '09---and he wasn't responsible for water distribution in the greater Kandahar region; he ran PR and flak, or to be more accurate but less neutral, he was a propaganda minister. Seems like perfectly sufficient warrant not to recruit the lovely fellow.
In his article on Rahmatullah Hashemi and the media attention he has recently attracted, Josh Duboff says that Harold Koh, the dean of the Yale Law School, believes "a greater investigation into the specifics of Hashemi's background will be necessary before the University allows him to enroll for a full degree" ("Ex-Taliban gets media attention," 2/27). Koh says, "It would be good to know more about how [Hashemi] came to work for the Taliban … and whether he's fully repudiated their views, which are, of course, notorious for their human rights-abusing practices."
I hope Koh does not mean to imply that Hashemi's views regarding the Taliban and its practices are relevant to the University's decision whether or not to admit him. I was not aware that ideology could disqualify a Yale applicant. If it can, the University should publish a list of guidelines. Which views make admission impossible? Which are merely undesirable? Will any opinions result in expulsion?
Yale should not be in the business of policing the political orthodoxy of its students. The hypocrisy of the suggestion is especially galling, given our recent military intervention in the Middle East and all of our country's foolish rhetoric about spreading democratic values and free speech.
Eric Knibbs GRD '10
Since I didn't get around to blogging about the free speech atrocities in late February, my latest column deals with the three biggies---the imam in Peshawar who put out a $1M bounty for killing the Danish cartoonists, David Irving's three-year prison sentence for the crime of Holocaust denial, and London mayor Ken Livingstone getting suspended from office for a month for making a tactless, though not really at all anti-Semitic remark to a Jewish journalist. [Oh the Hegelian ironies: that line they push in 8th grade social studies about how Britain is really a democracy after all turns out to be bullshit, but surprising bullshit; the de facto sovereign isn't a monarch, but a committee; how progressive--ed. Well name something from 8th grade social studies that wasn't bullshit--F.]
For pre-emptive purposes: I believe Irving's views are wrong, repugnant, et cetera, et cetera. That is irrelevant. Freedom of conscience entails the freedom of everyone to be a Nazi, or not, according to the whims of one's heart; free speech rights are literally contentless if Nazis and Stalinists and Wahabbists and Mel Gibson are not entitled to them without exception. By imprecating the freedoms of fascists, Germany and Austria inform the world that they have so little confidence in liberal democracy that they fear the mere enunciation of Nazi ideology will kindle its resurgency.
Meanwhile, in the nation that invented classical liberalism, "Red" Ken Livingstone, the socialist mayor of London, will be suspended from office for four weeks beginning today. Livingstone's misdeed? He compared (Jewish) journalist Oliver Finegold to "a concentration camp guard." The baffling factor here is that British law establishes an adjudication panel that has the power to remove democratically elected officials from their posts for a fixed term, just in case the panel determines that the official "acted in an unnecessarily insensitive manner." There you have it. Livingstone's right to free speech and the London electorate's right to choose its own representatives are both superseded by a political-incorrectness-snuffing bureaucracy.
All the same, the distinction between legal constraints on free expression and using terrorism to avenge it is determinate and not terribly fine-grained. Yet we in the West are beset by a political class that doesn't even need to be intimidated by the fanatics' extortionist demands, having already given in to them. My modest proposal is that we citizens -- "citizen" was once an honorific title, after all -- show our leaders that our rights and values still count, by dissolving our governments and electing new ones.