Wednesday, January 28, 2004
George Bush, Liberal Darling:
For those of you arriving at this post via Brad DeLong
or Mark Schmitt, FOLLOWUPS to this post can be found, in reverse chronological order, here
, and here
. Huge increases
in spending on education and other domestic programs that are not even within the federal government's constitutional purview; a new prescription drug entitlement for the elderly; Wilsonian rhetoric and actions in foreign policy; Kennedyesque manned space mission boondoggles; clumsy protectionism; in its appointments to high-level positions, the most affirmative-action conscious administration in American history; a proposal to legalize the status of illegal aliens; and now, a huge proposed increase
in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Remind me again of why liberals are so hostile to George Bush? Give him a phony Haavaad accent instead of phony Texas twang, a wonky college life, a less religious persona, and an attorney general other than John Ashcroft, and George Bush, in theory, would be a dream president for many liberals, judging by their ex ante
policy preferences. But the dirty little secret of American politics, as explained so well by Michael Barone, is that cultural cues are more important than policy and ideology. W just represents lots of things that coastal liberals dislike, and they will continue to dislike him regardless of how he governs policy-wise. But I find it amusing when they dress up their cultural prejudices in rhetoric along the lines of claiming that Bush is running a "right-wing" or "ultraconservative" administration that wants to roll back not just the Great Society, but also the New Deal
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds points out
that liberals always hated Nixon, too, even though Nixon also proposed and enacted very liberal policies. Of course, the liberals never forgave Nixon for his "red-baiting" Senate campaign
in 1950, which they thought not only smeared a good woman (opponent Helen Douglas) but also (1) paved the way for McCarthyism; and (2) was the primary example, in their minds, of how "anti-Communist hysteria" was "manipulated" by conservatives to prevent the emergence of American social democracy in the wake of the New Deal. Not to mention that many American liberals remained convinced for decades that Communist spy Alger Hiss was innocent, and that Nixon had dishonorably smeared him as well for political gain. Quite a bill of particulars against Nixon, compared to the weak reasons for liberal Bush-hatred. In fairness, I was equally puzzled by conservatives' hatred for Clinton, who was probably overall the most conservative Democratic president of the twentieth century policy-wise, but also represented elements of cultural liberalism (draft-dodging, pot-smoking, womanizing, feminist-marrying, Hollywood-befriending, etc.) that drive conservatives nuts.
FURTHER UPDATE: A reader aptly notes that Nixon was president in very liberal times; liberals wanted more, and thought they could get it from someone like McGovern. By contrast, it's very unlikely we would have seen the kind of domestic spending increases we've seen under Bush if Al Gore was president and had to deal with an oppositional Republican Congress. Sigh! Guess I'll enjoy my tax cuts and invest in Euro-denominated stocks as the deficit explodes and the dollar declines to Canadian status.
: Some readers are taking this post too literally. Of course, Bush shouldn't be a "liberal darling," but the hatred he engenders on the left cannot be explained by the ideological content of his policies, which is hardly "hard right" and in some contexts is quite liberal. In all, it's hard for me to imagine a Republic president with a Republican Congress governing further to the left on many issues.
Fake Nike Ad:
A reader alerted me to a purported Nike ad, using imagery from a terrorist bombing in Israel to sell sneakers. The reader suggested that the ad was likely fake; it was soon forwarded to me by a friend, who assumed it was real. Snopes verdict
Lieberman Campaign, RIP:
No wonder Lieberman has been doing so poorly thus far. I caught him on Larry King last night, and he was emphasizing how moderate he is, how he is indeed a conservative Democrat, how he loves working with moderate Republicans like John McCain, etc., etc. Joe: this is the stuff for general election campaigns, not for primaries when you are going after partisan, ideological voters! I briefly worked for the Kemp 1988 presidential campaign as a volunteer, and was baffled by Kemp's insistence on emphasizing issues of concern largely to black and Latino voters--issues that may indeed be important, but left his (overwhelmingly white) Republican audiences looking puzzled (as did Kemp's assertion that he is a "liberal democrat"--"small 'l', small 'd').
The oddest thing about Lieberman's appearance on King is that his record, except for defense, isn't all that conservative. In 1999, Lieberman was given a 95 percent rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Actoin, while the American Conservative Union gave him a zero for that year. His lifetime record is more conservative, but still moderately liberal.
Still, though it's a little late for Lieberman, if he really wants to go after the moderate to conservative vote in the South and West, he can start by doing what he should have done to begin with: making a big issue of the fact that the Democratic Party should not be treating racist demagogue Al Sharpton as a serious candidate worthy of respect, any more than David Duke should have received the respect of the Republican Party when he had his fifteen minutes. Not good for black-Jewish relations, perhaps, but it has the merit of actually being the right thing to do, and what not only Lieberman but the other Dems should have done to begin with. The only problem is, having handled Sharpton with kid gloves until now, any contrary actions by Lieberman would smack of desperation. Then again, his campaign is in fact desperate, and the attention Sharpton will get because of South Carolina would provide Lieberman's excuse.
A bit more on Paul Craig Roberts:
A reader writes: "I'm not totally sure why you're spending so much time on this guy. Is he significant in some way?"
Well, here's his bio
, from townhall.com, where he's a regular columnist; his column also runs in the Washington Times
Paul Craig Roberts is the John M. Olin fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, research fellow at the Independent Institute and senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. A former editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, he writes a political commentary column for Creators Syndicate. He also writes a monthly economics column for Investors Business Daily. In 1992, he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993, he was ranked as one of the top seven journalists by the Forbes Media Guide.
He was distinguished fellow at the Cato Institute from 1993 to 1996. From 1982 through 1993, he held the William E. Simon chair in political economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 1981 to 1982, he served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy. President Reagan and Treasury Secretary Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department's Meritorious Service Award for "his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy." From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.
In 1987, the French government recognized him as "the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism" and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.
Dr. Roberts' latest book, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, is The Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice (2000, Prima Publishing). The New Colorline: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy, also co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, was published by Regnery in October 1995. Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, co-authored with Karen LaFollette, was published by the Cato Institute in 1990. His book, The Supply-Side Revolution, was published by Harvard University Press in 1984. Widely reviewed and favorably received, the book was praised by Forbes as "a timely masterpiece that will have real impact on economic thinking in the years ahead." He is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy, published in 1971 and republished in 1990, and Marx's Theory of Exchange, Alienation, and Crisis, published in 1973 and republished in 1983.
Roberts has held numerous academic appointments and has published many articles in journals of scholarship, including the Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Law and Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Public Finance Quarterly, Public Choice, Classica et Mediaevalia, Ethics, Slavic Review, Soviet Studies, Rivista Di Politica Economica, and Zeitschrift Fur Wirtschafspolitik. He has contributed to Commentary, The Public Interest, Harper's, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Investor's Business Daily, London Times, Financial Times, The Spectator, The Times Literary Supplement, IL Sole 24 Ore, Le Figaro, Liberation and The Nihon Keizai Shimbun. He has testified before committees of Congress on over 30 occasions.
Things he says, unfortunately, have some chance of mattering. That's why I think it's important to rebut them, when they need rebutting. And because he's generally affiliated in people's minds with the Right (including, perhaps surprisingly, some parts of the Libertarian Right), I think it's especially important for conservatives and right-leaning libertarians to be among the ones doing the rebutting.
Brad DeLong makes a mistake:
In preparing for office hours, Brad dialectically downs 40 ounces of Coke.
Thrasymakhos: Ah. Proof that demand for some commodities is effectively unbounded!
Glaukon: What are you talking about?
Thrasymakhos: Diet coke. You're buying two bottles of diet coke. And not just two normal bottles. Two 20 oz. bottles. That's 40 oz. of diet coke you're buying, at once.
Glaukon: It's not diet coke.
Thrasymakhos: It isn't?
Glaukon: It's real coke.
Glaukon: I have three straight hours of office hours ahead of me. I need the caffeine. I need the blood sugar.
It's my experience that he'd have been better off with the Diet. Today I sat through a four-hour meeting followed by a one-hour meeting followed by three and a half hours of office hours (the students have a paper due next week). Espressos, breve lattes, and Diet Cokes were the order of the day. The blood sugar spike from the regular Coke, even from rather a lot of regular Coke (and 40 oz. doesn't yet begin to qualify as 'a lot' on a day like that) disappears much faster than the caffeine effect, and the subsequent sugar crash is harder to shake than the comedown from caffeine. I can go through eleven or twelve hours never really crashing from caffeine; I just have some more. Sugar doesn't, as far as I can tell, work like that; you're going to pay for the spike with crashes pretty regularly through the day even if you keep chugging. If you need blood sugar, eat something-- and something that's not all sugar.
Disclaimer for my students: Professor Levy's level of caffeine intake is not
medically recommended and should not be emulated. His tolerance is at an appallingly high level, and therefore his intake does not interfere with his getting eight-plus hours of sleep per night. You all have an alarming tendency not
to get eight hours of sleep per night, and this is not good. Coffee is a wonderful, wonderful thing but is not a substitute for sleep...
UPDATE: Keith Whittington, the distinguished public law scholar at Princeton, writes in:
I noticed your blog on the relative merits of Diet Coke as a stimulant. I recently discovered the interesting fact that most diet sodas also have more caffeine than the regular varieties. Coke Classic is 34 mg, for example, but Diet Coke is 45.6. Pepsi One is up there with Mountain Dew. Diet Dr. Pepper is the outlier in having the same (relatively high) caffeine content as the regular. Of course, all sodas pale in comparison to coffee. See http://wilstar.com/caffeine.htm.
A few people wrote in to ask for details about my own intake. Taking yesterday as an example-- it was a bit unrepresentative because of the dayful of meetings, but not by any means a radical outlier-- and using the numbers on the caffeine chart linked to above:
8 am. Triple espresso. 300 mg.
8:30 am. Breve latte with an extra shot (i.e. a triple espresso with steamed half-and-half). 300 mg.
10:45 am. Diet Coke. 45 mg.
12 noon. 1 cup brewed coffee. c. 100 mg.
2:30 pm. Diet Coke. 45 mg.
3:30 pm. Dan
suggests we take a quick break from office hours and get a snack. He gets a Toll House brownie bar. I get another triple espresso. 300 mg.
With dinner: Diet Dr. Pepper. 41 mg.
Total: 1131 mg.
As I look at this I realize this isn't by any means the most caffeine I might have in a day. Because I was tied down to office hours and meetings I didn't step out for Diet Cokes as often as I sometimes do. Because the meetings start so early I didn't brew myself a pot of coffee at home, from which I might easily have 4-5 cups some days. Already today I've had four shots of espresso and the equivalent of three cups of coffee. (Had breakfast at the faculty club, where coffee gets served in silly little teacups, which makes it hard to get an accurate count.)
As I said: not recommended. It's fun, though. I'd worry more about my addiction if it weren't such a pleasant one-- or if I ever got jittery or shaky, or if I ever lay awake at night.
Does Lawrence v. Texas recognize a fundamental constitutional right
to sexual autonomy? There was a hot debate about this following the Lawrence
decision; I argued here
that it does.
Today's Eleventh Circuit decision
upholding Florida's statutory ban on adoptions by practicing homosexuals shows the importance of this question. The Eleventh Circuit correctly points out that the right to adopt is a creature of statute; there's no constitutional right to adopt. But the Supreme Court has often held that even when the government is distributing a strictly optional benefit, the Constitution often (though not always) prohibits the government from discriminating based on the exercise of a constitutional right.
For instance, I suspect the law generally may not bar adoptions by people who have expressed certain political beliefs, who practice certain religions, or who own guns (either if the Second Amendment is interpreted as protecting an individual right, or if the state involved is one of the many
states whose constitutions clearly secure an individual right). The government generally may not use a person's exercise of his First or Second Amendment rights as a justification for denying them the benefit of an adoption. The government may have some power to consider a person's constitutionally protected conduct in making this decision -- in government employment decisions, for instance, the Court has held that the government has consider power to consider an employee's speech when the speech risks interfering with the efficiency of the government employer. But courts demand more than just a bare "rational basis" for such government decisions; they generally require some pretty substantial evidence that the person's exercise of his constitutional rights is substantially relevant to the government's decision.
does recognize a constitutional right to sexual autonomy that's akin to the freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, and the like -- which is what "fundamental constitutional right" generally means -- then the government would have to show that allowing adoptions by practicing homosexuals really would pose some pretty serious problems. But if it doesn't recognize such a right, but only holds that criminal prohibitions are illegitimate (perhaps because they fail even rational basis scrutiny), then it could defend its no-gays adoption policy under a simple rational basis test.
Note, incidentally, that the Florida Constitution specifically secures a right to privacy, and Florida courts have interpreted it as protecting sexual autonomy. Given this, I think the Florida courts' earlier decision upholding the no gay adoptions statute is unsound (Dep't of Health & Rehabilitative Servs. v. Cox
, 627 So.2d 1210 (Fla. App. 1993), aff'd as to the right to privacy
, 656 So.2d 902 (Fla. 1995)). The courts erroneously assumed that, just because an adoption is a government-provided benefit, the government is free to deny this benefit based on a person's exercise of his right to privacy. That, I think, is wrong, just as it's wrong to say "government employment is a benefit, so the government is free to deny it to pacifists / Catholics / gun owners."
(Thanks to How Appealing
for the pointer.)
Claim to fame:
The person credited for writing the Ctrl-Alt-Delete code is retiring. (It's not clear from the story whether he also hit on the idea of using Ctrl-Alt-Delete as the restart sequence.) Thanks to How Appealing
for the pointer.
The remarkable Paul Craig Roberts:
Columnists Paul Craig Roberts
begins a recent column with a criticism of the income tax -- something that certainly could be criticized -- but then says (emphasis added):
Compare an American taxpayer's situation today with that of a 19th century American slave. Not all slaves worked on cotton plantations. Some with marketable skills were leased to businesses or released to labor markets, where they worked for money wages. Just like the wages of today's taxpayer, a portion of the slave's money wages was withheld. In those days the private owner, not the government, received the withheld portion of the slave's wages.
Slaves in that situation were as free as today's American taxpayer to choose their housing from the available stock, purchase their food and clothing, and entertain themselves.
In fact, they were freer than today's American taxpayer. By hard work and thrift, they could save enough to purchase their freedom.
No American today can purchase his freedom from the IRS.
Slaves could also run away. Today, Americans who run away are pursued to the far ends of the earth. Indeed, the IRS can assert its ownership rights for years after an American gives up his citizenship and becomes a citizen of a different country. The IRS need only claim that the former American gave up his citizenship for tax reasons.
Conspicuously omitted from the comparison: Pre-Civil-War slaves could be sold by their masters. The masters could sell one's spouse, or one's children, and you might never see them again. The masters could sell one's daughters into prostitution. In some states, it was illegal for slaves to be educated. Slaves naturally didn't have constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech. Masters could, to the best of my knowledge, engage in a broad range of corporal punishment (all of course without any requirement of due process). The masters surely could try to stop slaves from running away, and to my knowledge many slaves were murdered while trying away. Need I go on?
Seriously, would any of you trade your modern status, even with high income taxes, for being a slave in the 1850 South, even a favored one such as the sort Roberts describes? Hey, I'm a big believer in economic liberty, which too many people wrongly devalue. But it's ridiculous moral blindness to overvalue it, and to undervalue the panoply of other liberties that we as free men have and that Southern slaves did not. "In fact, [certain pre-1860 American slaves] were freer than today's American taxpayer" is just an appalling statement to make.
Oh, and here's the crowning touch, from later in the column:
The "Civil Rights revolution" destroyed equality before the law. Today rights are race-and gender-based. We have resurrected the status-based rights of feudalism. The new privileges belong to "preferred minorities" rather than noble families.
Readers of the blog know that I'm happy to complain about ways in which civil rights laws (and other laws) restrict liberty, or erode equality. But saying that "The 'Civil Rights revolution' destroyed equality
" and that "Today
rights are race- and gender-based" suggests that somehow before the 1960s we had more
equality and didn't
have race- and gender-based rights.
Jim Crow; segregated schools; legal prohibitions on women working in various jobs; government tolerance of race-based lynchings; routine discrimination against nonwhites and women in a vast range of government jobs; systematic police abuse of blacks -- all that somehow didn't involve inequality before the law or "race- and gender-based" rights. But set up race- and sex-based affirmative action (which, I stress again, I oppose) and other aspects of modern civil rights laws; now, all of a sudden (even though women and racial minorities have more nearly equal opportunities with men and whites than they've ever had in American history) that's "destroy[ing]" some preexisting equality. What sort of moral and practical blindness is this?
This, of course, is the man who wrote in the Washington Times
and in his TownHall.com columns that (all emphasis added):
- "Recently, a federal judge wrote to me. . . . He was astounded that among almost 100 new citizens [for whom he had conducted a naturalization ceremony], there were only four or five Europeans. Immigration policy has produced an extraordinary change in the ethnic composition of the U.S. population. Experts tell me that it has been three decades since Europeans comprised a significant percentage of new citizens. In 1965, the Democrats, who lost the South, changed the immigration rules in order to build African, Asian, and Hispanic constituencies that would vote Democratic. In effect, native-born U.S. citizens are being "ethnically cleansed," not by violence, but by their own immigration policy. . . . When I first came to Washington, D.C., 25 years ago, the only international-looking people one saw were in the diplomatic community. Now, it is every third person."
As I've argued, "international-looking" is presumably the antonym of "American-looking people," but what exactly does that mean? I assume that it refers to the non-European, "African, Asian and Hispanic"-looking people (what else can it be referring to?). But aren't there people in our very nation, native-born U.S. citizens with roots in America dating back centuries or at least many decades, who look African, Hispanic, and Asian? It seems to me that there are two options: Either black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans are as much part of our nation as Europeans, in which case it's hard to imagine who's left to be "international-looking" (I take it that the author wasn't commenting only about, say, South Asians, many of whom have a "look" that wasn't visible in large numbers in the U.S. until recently). Or "international-looking" means, well, "non-white" -- in which case what does that say about the author's vision of who is a genuine member of our own nation?
- "[People] see the demise of the native-born in a recent occurrence in Richmond, Va. There a city councilman, Sa'ad El-Amin, has forced the removal of a mural of Robert E. Lee, the most beloved of all Virginians. When I was a kid even Northerners respect Robert E. Lee. Not a word was heard against him." The most beloved of all Virginians? More so than Jefferson and Washington? A man who stands for defense of the Confederacy is more beloved than one who stands for liberty and one who is the father of our country? What does that say about the worldview of all Virginians, or at least of all Virginians of the sort that Roberts seems to like? And might it be that some Virginians -- perhaps, say, black Virginians -- might not have much love for someone who, honorable as he might have been in his own way, is most noted for defending a country that was committed to keeping many Virginians in slavery?
- "The original U.S. Constitution that [legal scholar Raoul] Berger well understood is now dead. Its essential feature -- equality in law -- has been replaced by differential group rights based on skin color, gender, disability and, sooner or later, sexual orientation. . . ." Really? The essential feature of the original U.S. constitution, which protected race-based slavery, was "equality in law"? "Differential group rights based on skin color, gender, disability and sexual orientation" are somehow something new, and not a part of the 1787 order? Which history books has he been reading?
- "In the old feudal system, there were no First Amendment rights. The legally privileged were free to engage in hate speech and to verbally harass others, but any commoner who replied in kind could be sued or have his tongue cut out. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott still has his tongue, but just barely. He used his tongue in a way that gave offense to the new aristocrats. Black Americans have been granted the right to be offended by any words they don't like and to extract retribution. The offending speaker finds himself forced into contrition and humiliating apologies. Often the penalty is a destroyed career. . . . The spectacle proves -- if proof is any longer required -- that the First Amendment has been trumped by the race-based privileges of the new feudalism." Wow -- "black Americans" are "the new aristocrats"; and when a public outcry leads to political damage to a politician (the general way in which free speech often works in a free country), that's somehow the equivalent of "feudalism."
- "It was left to the libertarian, Llewellyn Rockwell, to point out that, fundamentally, states' rights is about the Tenth Amendment, not segregation. Thurmond's political movement sought a return to the enumerated powers guaranteed by the Constitution to the states. . . . Lott's tribute to Thurmond is easily defended on principled constitutional grounds. " Interesting. Did Thurmond's political movement also seek a return to other provisions guaranteed by the Constitution, such as, say, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments? If not -- if Thurmond's political movement actually sought continuing violations of those Amendments -- then shouldn't good constitutionalists be a bit uncomfortable with tributes to Thurmond?
Quite a remarkable man, Paul Craig Roberts, with quite remarkable opinions and ways of expressing them.
UPDATE: Two readers e-mailed me to point out that Roberts cowrote an anti-free-trade op-ed with . . . Sen. Charles Schumer
. I doubt that Sen. Schumer, though, agrees with Mr. Roberts' views quoted above; he might not even be acquainted with them.
The flood of e-mail on the Missouree-Missourah question has run about 3-1 in favor of people saying "I'm from there/ grew up there/ have family there, and I've never heard anyone say Missourah who wasn't on TV-- they only say that in rural areas in the southwest of the state." Some of the others claim that "Missourah" is the older, more correct, pronunciation, and the problem is that the rest of the state has been flooded by newcomers. On the other hand, a couple of people remembered a poll that allegedly showed a 50-50 split in preferred pronunciation among residents.
In any event, it's no surprise that when newscasters decide to go for the cutesy affectation of pronouncing a placename as they think the locals pronounce it, they're prone to make mistakes. In this case, 'Missourah' is-- at best-- the choice of some locals. Makes the affectation sound even sillier.
was apparently selling
a line of "Everybody Loves [Ethnic Group] Girls" T-shirts -- "Irish" with shamrocks, "German" with beer steins, "Jewish" with purses and dollar signs:
I'm pretty cautious about charging people with anti-Semitism; and I should also acknowledge that the target market for the shirts is obviously Jewish girls, so it would be Jewish girls who are associating Jewish with dollar signs as much as the manufacturer and distributor. Moreover, some such girls might happily wear such shirts simply as a celebration of shopping (which Jewish girls as well as other girls have been known to enjoy) rather than anything else.
Still, depicting shopping as emblematic
of Jewishness in the way shamrocks are emblematic of Irishness, or even beer (which the usual stereotype depicts Germans as drinking for fun, rather than to get drunk) as emblematic of Germanness, strikes me as pretty bad. Urban Outfitters must have the legal right to do this, but I think it's in pretty bad taste for them to exercise this legal right. Fortunately, the Anti-Defamation League reports
that Urban Outfitters discontinued this shirt in early January, in response to the ADL's complaints. The story I cite above was published today, but I'm not sure whether the T-shirt sighting that it describes happened after early January or before.
A Seattle Urban Outfitters store referred me to company headquarters, and I left a message with their public relations department. If I hear more from them that's relevant, I'll post an update. (Thanks to reader Regina Cullen for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Reader Prof. Patrick Brown writes:
Urban Outfitters has agreed to redesign the "Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl" t-shirt, removing the dollar signs. However, they are insisting on selling the ones that are already on the shelves or in the warehouse. These shirts are also being sold at the company's stores in Canada. Here's a [quote from] a National Post article on this story from last Friday . . . . reporting comments by the President of Urban Outfitters:
"Richard Hayne, the president of Urban Outfitters Inc., said last night the company agreed to modify the design.
"We agreed to take the dollar signs off and just keep it as it is otherwise. And it will say 'Everyone loves a Jewish girl,'" Hayne said in a telephone interview from Philadelphia.
"Our agreement with them was that we would sell out what we have and that when we printed the new ones they would be different. That seemed to be acceptable to the people here and that's what we're doing."
Recurring imagery watch:
[NB: I dislike calling such things 'memes.]
The Manchester Union-Leader's Bernadette Malone
When the extent of Howard Dean's irascibility became clear, they said, "Thanks, but no thanks, nut-ball." Kerry slowly was ticking upwards in New Hampshire polls even before the Iowa caucuses. But the size of his victory Tuesday night ? or even his victory at all ? was not guaranteed until the scream that was heard round the world. Then Granite Staters gave up on him, and went to the dance with the boring guy from down the road who had asked them first anyway.Chris Sullentrop:
Will the voters who dated Dean, then married Kerry get bored enough that they start to fantasize again about sleeping with Dean?
Me, two days ago
The voters have tried the passionate enthusiasm thing with Dean, and worn themselves out; they're now kind of collapsing back to Kerry out of exhaustion, as a default. The "Dated Dean, Married Kerry" buttons don't fully communicate the dynamic, not without some tweaking. After dating a fiery, passionate guy who now seems a little nuts, these voters are lovelessly marrying the nearest single guy who seems basically grown-up and stable-- someone who is boringly familiar but at least a known quantity.
Common sense on WMD:
Usually I avoid this topic when blogging, but here is some rare common sense
, combined with a sense of balance. My favorite passage:
"Intelligence failure was inevitable given the nature of the Iraqi regime. The new conventional wisdom is that Hussein wanted us to think he had a more advanced WMD program than he thought he had, and that Hussein himself thought he had a more advanced WMD program than he really had. If Hussein could be deceived in a country where he had absolute power, where he regularly punished betrayers by slipping them through human shredders or having their wives raped in front of them, then any external intelligence service was going to be deceived as well. The intelligence community accurately reported that Hussein was hiding things, that he was pursuing WMD programs, that senior members of the Iraqi military-industrial complex were convinced Iraq was pursuing WMD. Given Iraq's record, it would have been heroic to connect those dots into the picture we now think we see, namely, that it was mostly Iraqi actors deceiving each other and everyone else."
Read the whole analysis
. I don't mean that this argument should excuse the numerous intelligence failures, and failures of political courage, that occurred on this issue. It does mean, however, that our pre-war options were fairly limited and that simply pursuing more inspections would not have yielded much, one way or the other.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Welcome to Wonkette:
I'm pleased to report that Wonkette
has just been added to our blogroll. I normally don't announce such things, but given this post
, I think I have to make an exception.
I know, I know, the old "don't blogroll her, or else we'll never link to you" ploy is the oldest trick in the book; how could I have been so dumb as to fall for a conspiracy like that? What can I say -- I'm a sucker.
Further primary thoughts:
I'm watching television news tonight, which I almost never do. Maybe this is long-established. But: when did this affectation begin of talking about 'Missourah'? I know it's how some natives say the word. But it would sound silly for commentators with whitebread middle-America accents to name my hometown as "Pahtsmath, New Hampshah," just like it sounds silly for such commentators to arbitrarily pick a few Spanish placenames and roll the Ns and Rs, while they still say 'Paris' rather than 'Paree' and 'Warsaw' rather than 'Varsava'. Whence 'Missourah'?
The New Hampshire primary always shifts me out of scholarly political-scientist mode and into political-news-junkie mode. And when I say 'always' I mean 'always.' I remember uninformed arguments on Portsmouth playgrounds during the 1980 campaign, when I was eight. By the time of the '84 Hart-Mondale race I was fully a part of the culture: Meet lots of candidates, argue with them about your own pet issues, carefully consider your own preference (mine was for Hart) even if for some arbitrary reason (e.g. being twelve years old) one isn't eligible to vote. Indeed, lots of the New Hampshirites I knew had clearly articulable preferences in both parties' primaries, though they could only vote in one. I argued about drugs with Pete DuPont and national service with Dick Gephardt. I don't study American politics or elections, but growing up around the New Hampshire primary surely pushed me toward political science in the first place.
New Hampshirites like to think that our primary is decisive or nearly so. Only one Democrat (Clinton '92) and one Republican (Bush '00) have won the White House without winning the N.H. primary since the primary system began. No one has won his party's nomination without coming in first or second in the Granite State.
But the odd truth about the New Hampshire primary is that it doesn't pick Presidents anymore. It doesn't even pick nominees. What it does is put a good scare into the eventual nominee.
Consider: In 1984 Gary Hart beat Walter Mondale. In '88 George H.W. Bush--a sitting vice-president--only managed a nine-point win over Bob Dole. In 1992, as a sitting president, he only beat Pat Buchanan by 16 in a two-man race; and Bill Clinton lost to Paul Tsongas (though narrowly enough that he was able to anoint himself "The Comeback Kid"). In 1996 Buchanan actually beat Dole, and in 2000 John McCain beat George W. Bush, prompting the panicked demagoguery of the South Carolina campaign. Eventual nominees: Mondale, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Dole, and Bush, respectively.
The `good scare' doesn't always translate into `losing.' HW did win each of his two primaries. And last night (as in 1992) there wasn't a clear establishment man, something I'll return to below. So it's difficult to be quite sure whether the pattern still holds, or who the scarer and scaree were last night if it does. Was last night as close as the upstart governor will ever get to beating the patrician Senator? Or was it the last chance to stop the guy who (let's not forget) still has vastly more money and union power than anyone else in the race, advantages that will matter more and more as the campaign moves past Iowa and New Hampshire?
The `good scare' pattern might mean one or more of the following.
1) Nominations are won with the usual institutions of support: lots of money, lots of endorsements, powerful interest group support, and so on. The New Hampshire primary is the moment in the campaign when a candidate whose strength lies elsewhere--say, in a personal connection with voters, or in charisma, or in wonkishness--to shine. Relatedly, New Hampshire voters just get cantankerous about anyone whose nomination seems determined by forces outside voters' control, or anyone who seems to be taking the nomination for granted. So they punish such candidates, but then those larger forces reassert themselves and the establishment candidates win. It seems to me that this is the theory that plays to Dean's advantage; he still has commanding institutional resources. His loss in New Hampshire was the last moment that his resources could be outweighed by other things.
2) New Hampshire is an unrepresentative, idiosyncratic state, and voters elsewhere just aren't interested in the qualities that New Hampshire voters are. The previous theory is about the difference between voters and the establishment or powerful interest groups, and identifies New Hampshire as the voters' chance to take a stand. This theory is that New Hampshire's voters are different from voters elsewhere. The two obviously have different normative consequences; in one case, the goal should be to make the rest of the process more like the New Hampshire primary, while in the other the goal should probably be to dethrone New Hampshire from its privileged role.
I also think they have different consequences for our understanding of the race. Dean acquired his longstanding front-runner status in large part on the basis of his standing in the New Hampshire polls, and even after his collapse he played better in New Hampshire than in Iowa. I think this theory would tell us that New Hampshire voters were idiosyncratic in their taste for their cranky next-door neighbor, and that he will now fade quickly. But I also find this theory less persuasive than the first. Hart and McCain, to pick the two clearest examples, got buried by their opponents' resources, not by their intrinsic popularity. Anti-tax New Hampshire was probably ripe country for Buchanan in 1992, because of HW's violation of his tax pledge; but in '92 and `96 he had a more natural base in the protectionist states of the midwest and the immigration-fearing ones of the south and west. His failure to go further in either year (much as it pains me to admit this) wasn't because of any nationwide unpopularity of his ideas among Republican primary voters.
3) The establishment candidates change after the scare they get in New Hampshire; they stop taking the voters for granted, rise to the challenge posed by the upstart, and emerge as stronger candidates for it. I think this might well be true of, for example, W. in 2000 (where `stronger' only means `more effective on the campaign trail, with a willingness to win ugly'). But I have a hard time seeing it as true this year. If Kerry turns out to be the nominee, then-as Noam Scheiber has argued-Dean won't really have done the work of making Kerry a better candidate. If Dean is to pull out a victory now, he will certainly have to become a more effective candidate; but I just don't see that happening.
4) New Hampshire voters just really hate Bushes and Doles. After all, they could barely bring themselves to vote for W. in the general election, despite the state's substantial Republican advantage in registration. In all five contested Republican primaries dating back to 1980, the establishment candidate who got embarrassed was a Bush or a Dole. If that's all there is to the `good scare' pattern, then nothing follows for this year's Democrats.
Drawing implications for this year's race is oddly difficult. Of course, this year's race is odd. The standard list of character types is missing some exemplars this year, and there aren't any absurdly implausible candidates among the leaders. There's no one in the Pete DuPont/ Paul Tsongas/ Bruce Babbitt role of the charismaless earnest policy wonk filled with running entirely on the strength of serious thoughts about making government better, not at all on resume or character claims (except insofar as the wonkishness is itself the character message). The 1996 (though not the 2000) incarnation of Steve Forbes had this sort of campaign, too. These guys never went anywhere in the long term. But they simultaneously helped to elevate the intellectual tone of the early stages of the primary season and to provide inadvertent entertainment through the haplessness of their candidacies.
The utter-nutcase role previously played by Pat Robertson, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, Bob Dornan, and Jerry Brown is only inadequately filled by Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton. Sharpton's too smooth. He's a tremendously effective speaker. He's not the candidate most likely to say something utterly bizarre in a debate; he's among the least, as he knows what he's doing with words. (That only makes some of the things he's done with words worse.) And Kucinich is too invisible, making much less of a public impression than nutcases past. Similarly, Howard Dean, angry though he may be, is no Pat Buchanan.
But the role of the Establishment Candidate--occupied by Mondale, Bush pere and fils, Gore, and Dole--is also not quite filled. Lieberman should be the heir apparent, according to traditional rules. A year ago John Kerry was assumed to have a lock on the role. But Howard Dean now has the money, the union support, and the endorsements, while the Clintonite establishment is split between Clark and Edwards.
New Hampshire traditionally provides the campaign's darkest hour for the establishment candidate who goes on to win the nomination. This makes it a little surprising that the state has managed to hold onto its primary; it can't be much beloved in either party's headquarters. If Dean somehow pulls out a victory in the coming weeks based on his resource bank, the pattern will hold. If not, maybe that will show that New Hampshire's voters became a little less idiosyncratic this year, and thereby undid the Dean phenomenon they had done so much to create.
Libertarianism and the Law Students
The Federalist Society has always been a coalition between conservative and libertarian lawyers and law students. However, judging from the folks I met at national student conferences when I was in law school (88-91), the libertarians in those days were concentrated at the "elite" law schools. Harvard, Yale, Chicago, all had substantial minorities (or in Chicago's case, sometimes majorities) of libertarians in their organizations, but once one got past the so-called top 15 schools, active Federalist Society members were almost all standard issue conservatives, with nary a libertarian to be found. Judging by my experiences lecturing at many Fed Society student chapters over the last few months, times have dramatically changed. Quite a few chapter leaders have either mentioned to me that they are libertarians, or made comments that made it clear that they have libertarian views. In part, there is undoubtedly a selection effect involved: Fed Societies with libertarian leaders are more likely to invite a libertarian speaker like myself. But for the most part, my speaking schedule has been dictated by a prearranged travel schedule. My impression is that chapter leaders are now as likely to be libertarians as conservatives (with the caveat that I have mostly spoken in large cities, where religiousand therefore conservative influence is less substantial). If I'm right that current poliltically active "right-wing" law students' intellectual heroes are as likely to be Richard Epstein or Randy Barnett as Robert Bork or Nino Scalia, this has some interesting implications for the future of Amercan jurisprudence.
I've finally finished up a draft of my Crime-Facilitating Speech
article that I'm ready to show the world. There are still a few substantive points that I need help on (marked in the piece), and I'll have to do a lot
of editing. What's more, the piece is nearly 120 pages, which is too long (though fortunately p. 3 tells you how you can find the roughly 60 most interesting ones). Fortunately, I won't be sending around the article to the law reviews until early March, so I still have some time to improve it.
Another false arrest by the language police:
A reader writes to complain about "quote" being used as a noun to mean quotation; the reader says that it's a "made up" word.
Well, if it's made up, that's only in the sense that all words were made up. My Oxford English Dictionary lists quote as a synonym for quotation, dating back to the late 1800s. My Random House (2nd ed. 1987) does the same. So does Merriam-Webster Online
(see entry 2). One may, if one chooses, conclude that it's inelegant, though I can't see why, since it's clear and short. But it's a perfectly correct word.
A broader point: Lots of words that people claim "just aren't words" most definitely are words, under any reasonable test of "wordness." They are in all the leading dictionaries, and are not listed as nonstandard. Again, this doesn't mean that one should use them; there may be good reasons to avoid them. But don't say that they aren't words, or that they are "made up."
How can you determine from this map the profession of the person who decided how the map would be divided into the various colors?
Answer is here
. No fair drawing inferences from the character of the organization that put up the map; just consider the map itself, plus of course whatever other knowledge you might have about the ways in which the country can be divided.
"Just Say No to Drugs" posters would be forbidden in UCLA dorms:
I just came across (via speechcodes.org
) this policy in the 2003-2004 On Campus Housing Student Handbook
"D.8 Posting and Distribution of Materials . . . . c. Materials may not contain direct or indirect references to alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs; lewd or sexually explicit conduct; or criminal activity."
This clearly prohibits "Just Say No to Drugs" posters (direct reference to illegal drugs), flyers for anti-domestic-violence rallies or workshops (direct reference to criminal activity), ads promoting marijuana legalization or promoting debates on marijuana legalization (direct reference to illegal drugs and criminal activity), and probably safe sex workshops (direct or indirect reference to sexually explicit conduct). Maybe the university may constitutionally impose such a broad restriction, though I doubt it, given the designated public forum doctrine. But is it really a sensible restriction to impose -- and is it really meant to be enforced that way?
I assume the answer is "no" and "no"; presumably the policy is intended to cover a much narrower zone of speech than its text specifies. But exactly what zone?
Only speech that advocates use of alcohol, use of drugs, or criminal activity, or that includes jokes that refer in a favorable way to alcohol, drugs, criminal activity, or sexually explicit conduct? Well, first, even if that's what the policy means, that's not what it says, and there's no way for students or administrators to know that it's what it means. And, second, that would
be unconstitutional. Even if the dorms and their walls are treated as nonpublic fora (as opposed to designated public fora), the government still may not impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions there -- and the narrower interpretation of the policy would be unconstitutionally viewpoint-based.
I understand the school's sentiments; and I understand why a university may want to take a paternalistic attitude to its young students. But the First Amendment doesn't allow it to implement its paternalism through this sort of speech restriction. The University certainly has ample legal power to punish students for actually illegally drinking alcohol, using drugs, engaging in crime, or engaging in public lewd or sexually explicit activity. It has no business, I think, telling students what they may or may not say about such conduct, even in material posted or distributed in on-campus housing.
UCLA endorsing the theological views of the Metropolitan Community Church:
A quick google search suggests that the opening paragraphs of the UCLA administration Web page endorsing a particular religious viewpoint on homosexuality
is actually drawn from "Homosexuality; Not A Sin, Not A Sickness; What The Bible Does and Does Not Say," by Rev. Elder Don Eastman
, which seems to be a document generally distibuted by the Metropolitan Community Church. I stress again that I have no objections to the viewpoints itself, or to homosexuality generally -- but it does seem to be that UCLA ought not be endorsing a particular church's religious perspective.
Incidentally, the Web page does not credit Rev. Eastman, or anyone else, for those words. I realize that the page isn't itself an academic enterprise; and it might be that Rev. Eastman or his representatives specifically allowed them to quote him without attribution. Still, it seems to me that, especially within a university, it might be fairer to provide credit to those whose words are used.
New blog on sports and technology:
It is one of the Corante group, www.corante.com/transition
, the blogger is Nick Schulz of TechCentralStation.com
fame. Read about the politics of steroids, how athletes calculate [disclaimer: this post praises my writings], and sex change operations in the former East Germany.
Why a serious sports blog? Sports is both big business and a significant part of American and global culture. I think of sports as a form of drama, except the events in question really matter to the participants, rather than stemming from a staged script. I question the common elitist view that sports are somehow inferior per se
to high culture. It is no accident that Jacob Levy and Matt Yglesias, two of the best bloggers, both comment on sports in their blogging. Sports also raise interesting questions about how we evaluate quality
. As for my sports tastes, they run heavily toward professional basketball. My question for Nick's blog is the following: why does overall NBA attendance and interest seem to go up when we see one or two dominant teams (e.g., the former Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls) rather than a so-called "competitive balance"? Do fans really look to a sports season to see a long coronation march, perhaps punctuated by one final dramatic showdown?
I just saw The Castle
, an Australian movie about a guy who fights the government when it tries to take his home.
First, it has a positive social message -- Institute for Justice
had a screening of this movie in New London, Conn., during its anti-eminent domain battle there.
Second, it's really funny -- (1) in the depiction of the very lowbrow and tasteless (but heart-of-gold) family that actually enjoys living next to an airport runway and under power lines (which symbolize man's ability to produce electricity
), (2) in the youngest son's deadpan voiceover, and (3) in the character of the not-quite-competent small-time attorney who tries to make arguments that the taking is unconstitutional because of the "vibe" of the Constitution. (This last is, of course, also typical of non-lawyer libertarians, conservatives, liberals, and everyone else, but it's forgivable when you're not actually trying to argue in court.)
Third, it's got Anthony Simcoe
in a supporting role, not quite recognizable as the same guy from the campy Australian sci-fi series Farscape
, which Hanah
has been having me watch quite a bit of.
Watch the whole thing (you can get it on Netflix
UPDATE: I third
this. Also, reader Kevin Law likes Farscape
and disputes that it's campy.
UPDATE 2: Reader Kevin Baker
also disputes campy: "It was one of the most cleverly-written and original series I've ever seen, and I enjoyed it immensely. Granted, it takes probably five or six sequential episodes for a viewer to immerse himself in the Farscape universe, but it was great fun to watch."
Jews, homosexuals, Canadians, left-handers, and libertarians:
Randy's post reminds me of a riddle I came up with several years ago -- what do Jews, homosexuals, Canadians, left-handers, and libertarians have in common?
Answer: They spend a lot of time talking about who is Jewish, homosexual, Canadian, left-handed, or libertarian, but is not widely known to be so. Gwyneth Paltrow is half-Jewish. Yes, but did you know that William Shatner is actually Canadian? (And a Jew!) Oh, but Drew Carey is a libertarian
. . . . (I do not know whether the other groups have an equivalent of the Hannukah Song
(There's even a good theoretical explanation for this: Each group is (1) a minority that's (2) not very visible, (3) feels oppressed (in the Canadians' case, by being ignored), and (4) thinks of itself as superior.)
Clint Eastwood Outed in USA Today:
So, socially, you're live-and-let-live. How about politically?
I suppose. I don't see myself as conservative, but I'm not ultra-leftist. You build a philosophy of your own. I like the libertarian view, which is to leave everyone alone. Even as a kid, I was annoyed by people who wanted to tell everyone how to live.
This made my day. (Well not really.)
Likely Establishment Clause violation:
The UCLA Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Campus Resource Center -- which is apparently part of the UCLA administration, and not just a student group -- provides the material quoted below
on its Web site. Readers of this blog are likely aware that I have no moral objections to homosexuality; and I sympathize with the desire to make students who might be troubled by their sexual orientation feel more comfortable with it. But the Supreme Court's Establishment Clause caselaw (whether it's right or wrong) makes clear that government agencies may not endorse any particular religious viewpoint (with a narrow exception for firmly established traditions, see Marsh v. Chambers
(1983)), even in the service in the best of public policy goals; see the majority opinion in County of Allegheny v. ACLU (1989)
[T]he prohibition against governmental endorsement of religion "preclude[s] government from conveying or attempting to convey a message that religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred." Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S., at 70 (O'CONNOR, J., concurring in judgment) (emphasis added). Accord, Texas Monthly, Inc. v. Bullock, 489 U.S., at 27, 28 (separate opinion concurring in judgment) (reaffirming that "government may not favor religious belief over disbelief" or adopt a "preference for the dissemination of religious ideas"); Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S., at 593 ("preference" for particular religious beliefs constitutes an endorsement of religion); Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 305 (1963) (Goldberg, J., concurring) ("The fullest realization of true religious liberty requires that government . . . effect no favoritism among sects or between religion and nonreligion"). Moreover, the term "endorsement" is closely linked to the term "promotion," . . . and this Court long since has held that government "may not . . . promote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite," Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968). . . .
Whether the key word is "endorsement," "favoritism," or "promotion," the essential principle remains the same. The Establishment Clause, at the very least, prohibits government from appearing to take a position on questions of religious belief or from "making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community." Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S., at 687 (O'CONNOR, J., concurring).
So this statement by a public institution seems like a pretty clear violation to me:
Homosexuality and Religion
All of God's promises are intended for every human being, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. How tragic it is that many religious institutions have excluded and persecuted people who are not heterosexual.
We are all created with powerful needs for personal relationships. Our quality of life depends upon the love we share with others, whether family or friends, partners or peers. Yet lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people facing hostile attitudes in society often are denied access to healthy relationships. We are called upon to find ultimate meaning in life through our spiritual selves as well as our physical and emotional selves, which can bring healing and strength to all of our relationships.
"The issues about homosexuality are very complex and not understood by most members of" religious organizations, according to Bernard Ramm of the American Baptist Seminary of the West. This evangelical authority on biblical interpretation says that, "To them, it is a vile form of sexual perversion condemned in both the Old and New Testaments." But as Calvin Theological Seminary Old Testament scholar Marten H. Woudstra says, "There is nothing in the Old Testament that corresponds to homosexuality as we understand it today" and as Southern Methodist University New Testament Scholar Victor Paul Furnish says, "There is no text on homosexual orientation in the Bible." Says Robin Scroggs of Union Seminary, "Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today's debate. They should no longer be used...not because the Bible is not authoritative, but simply because it does not address the issues involved...No single New testament author considers homosexuality important enough to write his/her own sentence about it." Evangelical theologian Helmut Thielicke states, "Homosexuality...can be discussed at all only in the framework of that freedom which is given to us by the insight that even the New testament does not provide us with an evident, normative dictum with regard to this question. Even the kind of question which we have arrived at ... must for purely historical reasons be alien to the New testament."
Ideas and understandings of sexuality have changed greatly over the centuries. People in biblical times did not share our knowledge or customs of sexuality; we do not share their experience. In those days there was no romantic dating as we know it today; marriages were arranged by fathers. The ancients, as MIT's David Halperin notes "conceived of 'sexuality' in non-sexual terms: what was fundamental to their experience of sex was not anything we would regard as essentially sexual. Rather, it was something essentially social - namely, the modality of power relations that informed and structured the sexual act." In the ancient world, sex was "not intrinsically relational or collaborative in character, it is, further, a deeply polarizing experience: It serves to divide, to classify, and to distribute its participants into distinct and radically dissimilar categories. Sex possesses this valence, apparently, because it is conceived to center essentially on, and to define itself around, an asymmetrical gesture, that of the penetration of the body of one person by the body, and specifically, by the phallus, of another ... The proper targets of sexual desire include, specifically, women, boys, foreigners, and slaves - all of them persons who do not enjoy the same legal and political rights and privileges that (the perpetrator) does."
And yet in spite of all this, some preachers continue to use certain Biblical verses to foster and maintain discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. There are two verses that refer to male homosexuality - Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. "Abomination (TO'EBAH) is a technical cultic term for what is ritually unclean, such as mixed cloth, pork, and intercourse with menstruating women. It's not about a moral or ethical issue. This Holiness Code (Chapters 17-22) proscribes men "lying the lyings of women." Such mixing of sex roles was thought to be polluting. But both Jesus and Paul rejected all such ritual distinctions (Mark 7:17-23; Romans 14:14,20). The Fundamentalist Journal admits that this Code condemns "idolatrous practices" and "ceremonial uncleanness" and concludes: "We are not bound by these commands today."
These commands, of course, included eating sheep, goats, rabbit, pork, lobster, scallops, and shrimp; short hair on men, wearing two kinds of materials; and demanded circumcision on all male babies who were eight days old.
Other Biblical Issues no longer relevant include:
A stubborn or rebellious son shall be brought to the authorities and stoned to death (Deut. 20:11)
The citizens of cities which surrendered during wartime are to be made slaves (Deut. 20:11
If a man marries a woman and discovers she is not a virgin, she is to be stoned to death (Deut. 22:13)
An unmarried man who sleeps with an unbetrothed virgin must marry her (Deut. 22:28)
Wives must obey their husbands (Eph 5:22)
People who divorce, then remarry, commit adultery (Matt 5:3, 19:9, and Mark 10:11)
Slaves will always be slaves (Lev 25:44)
Slaves must obey their masters (1 Peter 2:18)
Slaves should remain slaves, and not be bothered by their condition (1 Corinthians 7:21)
The Bible has nothing specific to say about homosexuality. Surely, if homosexuality were so important, Jesus would have said something about it. But he did not. However, the Bible has plenty to say about God's grace to all people and God's call to justice and mercy. People of God are called upon by God to love one's neighbor as oneself. Perhaps it is that sense of self-love that needs to be sought before one condemns another.
Monday, January 26, 2004
Freedom from aggravation:
The Macalester College speech code
provides "The College recognizes the complexity of defining language and actions that are not acceptable in a community which values freedom of expression. Freedom of expression does not include the right to intentionally and maliciously aggravate, intimidate, ridicule or humiliate another person." There's more, but nothing quite as good as the "aggravat[ion]." (Thanks to InstaPundit
for the pointer.)
Real-estate ad, again:
I had excellent reasons for posting this ad on Saturday, but of course blogs have fewer readers on Saturday, so here goes again, if you're looking to buy my charming condo in Cambridge, Mass.:
Are you moving to Cambridge? I'm looking to sell my apartment and move out by June. Two bedrooms (one of them large, and a study that can work as a third bedroom), two bathrooms, two working fireplaces, building with historic charm, many new fixtures. On Mass. Ave.; two minutes' walk from Harvard Yard, five minutes from the Harvard Sq. T stop, ten minutes from Harvard Law School. Roughly 800 sq. ft. I've had a wonderful time living here for the past five and a half years.
Write me e-mail if you're seriously interested.
Michael Crowley's (subscription-only) TNR article
about Massachusetts Democrats having no real enthusiasm for Kerry is, as far as I can tell, spot-on. The same goes for a lot of New Hampshire Democrats I know. Having grown up in the part of New Hampshire that's part of the Boston media market, I can report: Kerry does not wear well with time. Mickey Kaus' entertaining obsession
with this fact has led him, and his correspondents, to try to articulate just what it is about Kerry that becomes so grating over time, and he's done as good a job as anyone. I certainly can't articulate it myself. But I do know that he wears on the nerves, a lot.
The trouble is that that knowledge left me blindsided by Iowa. The last thing I expected was that Iowa voters would get less
sick of Kerry over time. I think that in part they got so overwhelmed by Dean and Gephardt that they were still more
sick of the latter two. But in a fair fight with the voters having equal exposure to all of the candidates, I have confidence that Kerry would have worn out his welcome. (Gephardt, whose politics I have made no secret of viewing as actively evil, is a far more pleasant person to listen to and, in my limited experience, interact with.)
Now Kerry seems sure to win New Hampshire tomorrow. But it seems joyless, dutiful. New Hampshire Democrats are lining up behind him in something the way that Crowley describes Massachusetts Democrats as doing-- and in much the same way that so many Republicans lined up behind Bob Dole in 1996. The voters have tried the passionate enthusiasm thing with Dean, and worn themselves out; they're now kind of collapsing back to Kerry out of exhaustion, as a default. The "Dated Dean, Married Kerry" buttons don't fully communicate the dynamic, not without some tweaking. After dating a fiery, passionate guy who now seems a little nuts, these voters are lovelessly marrying the nearest single guy who seems basically grown-up and stable-- someone who is boringly familiar but at least a known quantity. Maybe that will be enough to carry Kerry to the nomination. But ultimately I think it's the path to Bob Dole's electoral fate.
UPDATE: I think what I said above overlaps a lot with Noam Scheiber's analysis
Last summer, Dean seizes the front-runner mantle from Kerry and runs up an early lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, locking up large numbers of committed supporters. The effect is to make it difficult not only for Kerry to get traction in the race, but for any other candidate to get traction, as well. Then Dean proceeds to melt down--which sends people scurrying back to Kerry, who, as the former front-runner, is best positioned to re-absorb their support. (Again, no one other than Kerry has had a chance to emerge as an alternative to Dean during all the months Dean is padding his lead. Because of that, Kerry remains the de facto alternative.) And then, to cap things off, the instant conventional wisdom about how Dean (and Gephardt) lost Iowa is that they were too negative--which makes every candidate reluctant to criticize the new front-runner from this point forward. In a nutshell, Dean took a lot of voters out of play early and sat on them, then handed them over to Kerry just before the voting started, then made it virtually impossible for anyone to win them back. Kerry, as the beneficiary of such an incredible set of circumstances, does not strike me as a battle-hardened candidate. He strikes me as an extremely lucky SOB.
Book Tour Continues in Virginia:
The book tour for Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty
continues this week in Virginia:Tuesday January 27th
University of Virginia School of Law (Charlottesville), 4:20pmWednesday, January 28th
Washington & Lee School of Law(Lexington), noonThursday, January 29th
William & Mary School of Law(Williamsburg), noon
All talks are open to the public and lunch talks usually feature food. Room locations should be posted on signs when you get there. Let me know that you are a Volokh Conspiracy
reader as others did in DC last week.
New York: Cornell, NYU & Columbia
DC: Cato Institute Book Forum
Chicago: John Marshall
One reason why your cell phone sometimes fails you:
I just attended a three-day arts policy conference in the Berkshires. Not only was Internet access scarce but my cell phone often didn't work either. Fortunately I am sufficiently balanced not to have felt frighteningly alone.
The telecommunications reforms of 1996 were supposed to prevent local governments
from banning cell phone towers. Yet in just one U.S. District Court (Boston), cell phone carriers must go to court once every eighteen days, on average, to overturn tower rejections by local officials. Here is the full story
.The good news
: The rate of required lawsuits was twice as high in 2000. Carriers are now more willing to disguise towers in flagpoles
, rooftop elevator shifts, or as fake pine trees. A tree is no longer always a tree, check out this picture and story
And the public choice angle? One source
notes the following:
"The exact people who want cell phones are the ones who complain the most about the towers," says Doug Gunwaldson, director of common network access management at AT&T Wireless.
In other words, as is so often the case in politics, we are the source of our own problems.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Inklings of good news on both the election front and the Oscar front.Lieberman passes Clark and Edwards in NH poll.Return of the King
picks up every Golden Globe it was nominated for, including best picture (drama) and best director (drama).
UPDATE: Yes, I do realize that the stupid "Joe" puns, one of which is in the headline of the article linked to above, are evidence of Lieberman's astonishingly tin ear, hopeless dorkiness, or both. He's not actually a talented politician, which means that in importamt ways he couldn't be an effective president. I'll continue to root for him on policy grounds; but even I
don't like listening to him talk, and much as I like the New Hampshire primary, it's not in the set of things worth a "fight to the death," as he put it in the debate.
Reynolds on Bush's Vulnerability:
Glenn Reynolds on Instapundit
has this to say about President Bush's prospects for reelection:
I'VE BEEN SAYING FOR A LONG TIME that Bush is vulnerable in 2004, regardless of how confident the GOP seems to feel. (Here's an old post on that, but just enter the words bush and vulnerable in the search window to see a lot more). Now Tacitus is weighing in. Even this, rather optimistic charting shows Bush trending downward. I think that's because the big-spending, "compassionate conservative" stuff is alienating more conservatives and libertarians than it is winning over undecideds.
Projecting the 2004 elections based on today's polls is a fool's game -- you'd think that Iowa would have taught people how volatile polls are -- but that doesn't mean that Bush's people should be overly confident. And as for those Bush/Churchill analogies, remember what happened to Churchill the minute people felt safe.
Glenn must have been talking to my dad.
Liberals, Anti-Communism & Learning to Read:
In an exchange about my post
quoting a 1952 Irving Kristol essay, Brad DeLong
redefines priase to encompass calling someone a "vulgar demagogue" but "unequivocally anticommunist." Funny. I always thought to praise someone you had to say nice things about them.
I suspect DeLong's commentary is due, at least in part, to his contemporary opinion of Kristol -- and his dislike of Kristol's worldview may well be justified. (I have plenty of disagreements with Kristol myself, especially in the context of free speech and civil liberties.) But it's worth reiterating that when Kristol wrote the words I quoted -- 1952 -- he was still considered a man of the Left, albeit the anti-communist Left. Whether Kristol has since genuinely praised McCarthy or not, I have no idea, but I remain flabbergasted that DeLong thinks the language I quoted constitutes praise.
UPDATE: A reader is "puzzled" by DeLong's post, as "What does the fact that McCarthy was crude, opportunistic, and ineffective have to do with the stance of many liberals/progressives in 1952?" He goes on to note that "Kristol was writing soon after the Wallace campaign of 1948. Many liberals went for the Progressives because they were appalled by the foreign policy of Acheson, Marshall, and Truman. Seems somewhat disingenuous to cite the record of A/M/T in order to prove the anti-communist bona fides of Arthur Miller or The Nation
." The reader concludes, just because McCarthy was wrong to accuse Acheson, Marshall, and Truman of treachery, "that doesn't make Alger Hiss innocent or Lillian Hellman a persecuted liberal."
A neat little application
that gives you a map of the U.S. where you can paint the states you've visited in red. (Of course, you can use red to highlight states that fulfill any criterion you like, not just whether you've visited them.)create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide
UPDATE: Reader Matt Johnson points out that the World66 folks think that D.C. is between New Jersey and Delaware.
UPDATE 2: An anonymous reader points out that this map is also good for graphically keeping track of where your concealed carry permits are valid.
UPDATE 3: This isn't that big a problem with the map of the U.S., but these guys also have a map of the world where you can mark countries you've visited, and of course if you even go to a tiny bit of Canada or Russia, you get to color in a huge swath of the world. I get to color in Canada because I've been to Montreal twice and New Brunswick once. But I've never been to Russia, whereas others who have visited it once get this huge leg up! Now does that seem right? Maybe there should be something that gives you a dot around each exact place you've been, so if you go to St. Petersburg, it colors in just as much as if you visit the Vatican.
UPDATE 4: Clearly, just being in an airport shouldn't count, right? (If it did, I don't think it would affect the states I could count. But it would allow me to add some countries to the countries map, like Portugal, Peru, and the Netherlands.) But of course, this opens up all sorts of arbitrarinesses. First, what about train stations? On the one hand, they're like an airport. On the other hand, you do pass through the countryside and actually see stuff. But really, should that be enough to count a state? And if not, then what about just driving through? The driving-through test is why I get to count Idaho and Wisconsin, for instance, but why is driving through any better than taking a train through? And if just driving through doesn't count, what if I stopped at a gas station/mini-mart? Or what if I was only in the state long enough to stay in a hotel overnight (Ohio)? Or what if in addition to staying in a hotel overnight, I used a laundry service (Minnesota)? All these are questions for you to resolve between yourself and your God.
Kudos to Delta:
I was scheduled to leave tonight on an 8:05 pm flight to Atlanta (I'm speaking at Emory Law tomorrow at noon, and at Georgia State at 5:00), but the weather forecast predicts heavy snow by that time. I called Delta, and they rescheduled me without demanding a change fee of any sort. Such flexibility with regard to prospective weather concerns has not, in my experience, been the norm with airlines. Self-defeatingly, they refuse to reschedule passengers, and then have to deal with thousands of stranded individuals. For example, eight years ago, the annual law professors' conference was held in San Antonio, and scheduled to end on a Sunday. By Saturday, CNN was predicting a blizzard in the Northeast Sunday morning. While some attendees managed to get out early, I heard other stories of airlines that insisted that to leave on Saturday, a new full-fare ticket would have to be issued, costing over $1,000. Needless to say, neither the airlines nor the passengers were happy when 2 feet of snow fell on the Northeast and folks couldn't get home for several days. So, kudos to Delta for customer service and common sense.
NH primary continued:
Throwing out all norms of either scholarly reliance on data or journalistic ethics, I'm going to confirm Ryan Lizza's
impression of Edwards' NH strength by relying on my mother, a NH Democrat and Edwards volunteer. She was a pretty diehard Clintonophile (always talking about how charismatic and electrifying he is in person; NH voters have views about things like that), and always encouraged me in my early activism, but she's never signed up to do stuff herself before. And, being a Democrat in New Hampshire, she's had a long time to learn habits of discouragement, of thinking that the candidate she likes usually loses. She's giddy with excitement about Edwards, getting up early in the morning to to events and work on the campaign, and thinks that people are getting progressively more excited about him very quickly.
Relying on one's mom, who is herself not a disinterested source, is of course the height of anecdotalism. But rather a lot of primary-coverage journalism relies on one or two enthusiastic 'ordinary voter' types, so, what the hey.
(NB: This does not
indicate excitement about Edwards on my
part. I stand by my insistence that it takes more than a drawl to turn an Old Democrat into a New Democrat.)
My favorite sentence from this
utterly delightful John Holbo essay on literary studies, good and bad writing, theory, and the MLA:
Doubts about the correctness of the paper's conclusions do not fall within the scope of the paper, as it were.
Damn. I wish I'd
UPDATE: I got to the end, noticed the trackbacks, and saw that Matt Yglesias
had highlighted the same paragraph.
Sunday Song Lyric:
For a slight change of pace, I thought I'd start offering up a song lyric or two each Sunday. For today, I settled on something by one of America's greatest songwriters of all time, Hank Williams Sr.
Although he never saw his 30th birthday, Williams left an astounding musical legacy. He was much more than a "country music singer." His work has influenced countless artists across a wide range of musical genres.
Hank Williams' songs were often melancholy, reflecting the sadness and despair he experienced throughout his short life
. So it's only appropriate to pick a lyric that embodies such emotions: I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry
Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry
I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry
Did you ever see a robin weep?
When leaves begin to die
Like me he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry
The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry
Next week, I promise to pick something more contemporary, and a bit more uplifting.
Saturday, January 24, 2004
When Lieberman is asked how his faith would affect his politics, he paraphrases a now-famous Kennedy line, telling voters, "I am a presidential candidate who happens to be Jewish, not the other way around."
So Lieberman is not "a Jewish who happens to be a presidential candidate?" The quote
would work if Lieberman would say "to be a Jew" instead of "to be Jewish" but in American English, calling oneself or someone else "a Jew" seems to be considered less polite than saying oneself or someone else "is Jewish."
Freedom of Speech in France:
Dressing up like an Orthodox Jew and giving a Nazi salute while shouting "Heil Israel" is contemptible; but prosecuting that individual
for violating "hate crimes" laws [link found on Little Green Footballs
] is authoritarian and unworthy of the free society France purports to be. France's record in combatting anti-Semitic violence was weak until recently, but its government shouldn't try to redeem itself by stifling political speech, even speech that is offensive and insulting. [Note: Somehow, I originally misread this story as coming from Quebec, and I've edited the post to correct my error.]
A real-estate ad:
Are you moving to Cambridge? I'm looking to sell my apartment and move out by June. Two bedrooms (one of them large, and a study that can work as a third bedroom), two bathrooms, two working fireplaces, building with historic charm, many new fixtures. On Mass. Ave.; two minutes' walk from Harvard Yard, five minutes from the Harvard Sq. T stop, ten minutes from Harvard Law School. Roughly 800 sq. ft. I've had a wonderful time living here for the past five and a half years.
Write me e-mail if you're seriously interested.
is the Greek plural
. Also, my father asks whether, if Lieberman gets some pro-Jewish law passed that benefits his district, it's correct to call it pork
Still More Reader Response to Liberals on Communism:
It's the weekend so people seem freer to share their recollections about the topic, so here goes one more round. I suspect it will be the last installment, but who knows? I hope readers find what other readers have to say as interesting as I do.
Let me add two of my many college encounters with regard to the Soviet Union and the communist bloc. When I took economics 101, in 1966, the textbook was Samuelson, of course. Inside the back cover was a graph comparing the gross national products of several countries over a long period of time (since 1900, I think). What it showed was that the US had the largest GNP, but it had grown through a series of severe booms and busts. The Soviet Union's GNP was still somewhat lower than the US's, but since the mid-1930s (the Five Year Plans, I guess) it had grown in a straight, sharply rising line (rising faster than US GNP at any point except major booms), that it had never experienced any downturns, and that it would quite clearly surpass the American GNP in the near future that was just off the edge of the book. This, then, was the "knowledge" that economic students at Brown received, in the mid to late 1960s; they certainly would not have thought of themselves as Soviet apologists for repeating it, as another occasion showed.
I was arguing about the economic merits of communism and capitalism with a liberal friend who was an economics graduate student. Deferring to his greater knowledge, I humbly brought up the East Germany vs. West Germany comparison. He replied that in fact the East German economy was larger and stronger than the West German economy, and that East Germany even produced better cars. That would be the two-cycle, lawnmower-engine Trabant, I guess. Unfortunately, at the time, I did not know the Trabant. But the conversation taught me a useful lesson: Get the facts; impressions cannot trump misinformation.
I was reading your posts on liberals and communism over at Volokh.com and it reminded me of an experience I had while a graduate student at Brown. I was sitting down waiting for a talk to begin and my putative advisor was talking to another professor who asked her what she thought about the then-newly released Black Book of Communism, since her specialty was in post-Soviet politics. She sort of sniffed and said, "Well, it's really a biased perspective. It's certainly not the whole story."
I think that sort of sums up how a lot of liberals felt about the USSR. It certainly had a lot of disagreeable features, they thought, but the visible egalitarianism seemed really appealing. All you have to do is to read Barrington Moore's The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, where he explicitly (in the introduction) argues that the communist road to modernity was no more wrenching or destructive than the liberal or fascist one.
When I was in elementary school and high school, the teachers would often say things like the following:
Communism is the best system in theory, although capitalism may work better in practice. In general capitalism and communism were presented as equally valid choices with communism perhaps holding the moral high ground. This was pretty shocking and memorable to me, since my family had escaped a communist country when I was very young.
The Native Americans lived under a basically communist system, and everyone was happy and no one starved, so it's obvious it's better when people do it right.
UPDATE: Another reader writes:
. . . Modern liberals/moderate-leftists, I think, are not the descendants of the communists of old. They are rather Mensheviks, at the radical end, and the 'social reformers' against whom Marx rails, at the moderate end. A welfare state is entirely antithetical to Marxist theory, as it is an abhorrent compromise with the bourgeoisie. Therefore, I cannot say that the experience of the USSR need tell us anything about the
impact of liberal policies on the United States. Perhaps if liberals understood that they are not necessarily on the same political bench as the communists, there would not be so much sympathy for communist regimes.
Then Again You Could Change the Subject and Bash the Right:
Then there is the following response, typical in my experience of one sort of blogosphere reaction whenever either "liberals" or "the left" are criticized. I interject my comments:
I'm eager to move on from the recent flood of posts beating up liberals for not apologizing sufficiently for the reds amongst them.
People are reporting their experiences with often self-righteous persons who turned out to be wrong. I see no "beating up" behavior. To the contrary several noted similar reactions by conservatives. Nobody claimed that liberals were themselves communists. Only that they continued to express sympathy for tyrannical regimes. This is called "anti-anticommunism" which is not itself to be a communist. But I guess I don't blame this reader for his eagerness to "move on." As the ironically named "Move-On.Org" has demonstrated, we must always "move on" immediately from Democrat peccadilloes, to dwell endlessly on those of Republicans or the Right. Indeed, many have not "moved on" from McCarthy or Nixon. "Moving on" is apparently done on a one way street.
Can we talk about the conservatives who, dollar-signs in their eyes, can't say enough nice things about Red China *today*?"
I have been to the PRC and I am well aware of the serious abuses of dissidents there and the lack of political freedoms which is to be condemned and resisted. I tried unsuccessfully to get my official tour guide admitted to the US, but though the PRC gave him a visa after he quit his state job, he was turned away by US immigration officials in Beijing after I had arranged his admission and scholarship to a local college. And we all watched Tiananmen Square first with hope and then with horror.
Nevertheless, there is no question that China's movement towards a market economy has greatly benefited large numbers of the public, though not everyone of course. In fact, from large cities to small, one is simply in awe of the increased prosperity all around you. You are only allowed to tour some cities on formal tours such as I was on, but this includes a lot of different size cities and towns. And in the 1990s tour guides were amazingly candid about the bad as well as the good. Much more progress needs to be made but progress has undoubtedly been made. Just listen to the people talk there, quite freely, of the horrors of Mao's Cultural Revolution. It seems at every historical site, the story is the same: this temple was used as a stable during the Cultural Revolution, or this has been "restored" (read: completely rebuilt) from having been trashed during the Cultural Revolution. I could go on and on. None of this is to apologize in any way for the current Communist party rule in China. It is simply to note that when even a brutal regime such as the PRC liberalizes economically in the direction of the market to some degree
, even without political reform, the lives of its people improve markedly. An important lesson to learn.
Or the ones who were happy to sweep under the rug any inconvenient truths about death squads in Latin America &c. when the death squads were on the right? (And there are plenty of autocratic, oppressive, vicious governments in the world *today* that have no shortage of defenders on the U.S. right wing.)
This is the typical association of tyrannical regimes with "the Right" because the regimes are not communist. Remember when the Soviet communists were called the "conservatives" when they resisted Gorbachev's reforms? Even if this categorizing makes sense in the foreign context, these "rightist" regimes have no connection with, nor bear any relationship to, the American "right." More relevantly to this thread, you do not ever
hear American conservatives or libertarians extolling the virtues of so-called "right-wing" dictatorships as some sort of misbegotten but well-motivated model, the way liberals and the left continue to express sympathy with left-wing dictatorships such as that in Cuba. (I view Chile as a different and more difficult case. There you did and still do see some Americans on "the Right" expressing sympathy for the Pinochet regime--as do many Chileans--but the facts of its rule and how it came to power are deeply contested and I do not intend to explore them here.)
How about the conservatives who keep trying to trot out the "American Civil War wasn't about slavery, but about federalism, and the Confederates were really fighting for freedom" story?
The debate about what the Civil War was "really about" are longstanding and fascinating, but hardly map the liberal-conservative divide. And even the Southern-sympathic view of the so-called "war of Northern aggression" concedes the terrible injustice of slavery, while condemning the North for its racism and accusing it of being motivated more by nationalism and economics than a concern for slaves. Indeed, you hear this sentiment quite frequently from those on the left who want to condemn America rather than give the US any credit for ending slavery. Sound familiar?
It's disingenuous to spend multiple posts talking about the motes in the eyes of liberal professors, when conservative policymakers and pundits can hardly look at each other for the clashing of the two-by-fours.
Disingenuous? Liberal professors? Clashing of two-by-fours? Characterizing past and, in some cases, continued sympathy for regimes that killed or immiserated millions as a mere "mote" in the eye exemplifies the very phenomenon I and others were reporting. Thanks.
Liberals & Communism:
Randy and Sasha's posts on the alleged soft-spot some liberals had for the Soviet Union during the Cold War brings to mind the closing line of Irving Kristol's 1952 Commentary
essay on civil liberties and Communism. While noting Joseph McCarthy was a "vulgar demagogue," Kristol argued that there was reason to suspect more than a few of McCarthy's most vociferous critics -- the anti-anti-Communists -- were indeed soft on Communism. He then concluded (and I paraphrase) that there was one thing most Americans knew about McCarthy, and that was that he, like them, was unequivocally anti-communist. Yet about the spokesmen for American liberalism, they knew no such thing. Needless to say, this is arguably the most controversial thing Kristol ever wrote.
UPDATE: I fail to see how anything in the above passage consists of "gloating"
about some on the Left's past inability to see the true evil of Communism, nor do I accept Brad DeLong's suggestion
that I "praise or excuse" McCarthy simply by noting the parallels between my co-bloggers' reflections on liberals and Communism, and Kristol's 1952 assessment of the anti-anti-Communists. (Indeed, at least one of DeLong's commentators is as flabbergasted by this interpretation as I am.)
Covering the Judiciary Committee Memo "Scandal":
Jack Shafer's article
on media reporting of the Senate Judiciary Committee memo scandal, highlighted by Eugene below
, is definitely worth a read. He points out how much of the coverage, especially that in the Boston Globe
, has been way overblown. Shafer's bottom-line: The Senate staffers' actions may have been wrong, and perhaps even deserving of censure, but they are hardly the "crime of the century." Indeed, there is no allegation that anyone surreptitiously gained access to another staffers computers through hacking or another nefarious means. [Note: Contrary to Mathew Yglesias' suggestion
, Senate staffers did not "break into" Democratic staff computers, nor does Shafer say that accessing the files was "okay."]
Shafer also makes the broader point, a point which merits underlining, that the decision of some media outlets to focus on the acquisition of the memos, rather than their content, is quite out of character. As Byron York noted, in a piece Shafer cites approvingly, "One might expect most journalists—normally the recipients of leaks and protectors of leakers—to be more interested in what the documents say than in how they were obtained. "One might expect most journalists—normally the recipients of leaks and protectors of leakers—to be more interested in what the documents say than in who leaked them."
As evidence for this point, consider that illegally or unethically obtained documents have often surfaced in the context of judicial nominations. Last year, Senate Democrats sought to use stolen documents to impugn the integrity of 11th Circuit nominee William Pryor. Most news accounts focused on the allegations, not how they became public. Similarly, when Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court (but before the Anita Hill story broke) someone on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit leaked Judge Thomas' forthcoming opinion in a controversial case to the press, a clear violation of the code of judicial conduct. The draft opinion made lots of news, but there was little, if any, discussion of how the unreleased opinion made it into the hands of the press.
In the end, Shafer "can't help but think there's a journalistic double standard operating here in which partisan leaks to conservative journals and journalists . . . are treated as capital crimes, but partisan leaks that wound Republicans are regarded the highest form of truth telling." He may be right.
UPDATE: The Frozen North takes issue
with my post, but but I take issue with his characterizations of the underlying facts and their implications.
For additional background, the GOP staff snooping involved accessing Democratic files by clicking on the "My Network Places" icon on the Windows desktop and accessing unsecured, unprotected files on the network drive. There was no hacking, no stolen password, no accessing of individual Democratic staff computer drives. If we're getting into analogies, this is not like walking into someone's unlocked office and copying their files, but rather like copying files left out in a common area. This does not mean accessing the files was not a slimy thing to do, but I do believe it affects just how
slimy it is - and may make all the difference legally. Moreover, as I understand it (and contrary to the Frozen North's claim), a Republican staffer did
let Democratic staff know about the security hole, but it remained unfixed for months. Again, this doesn't mean copying the memos was not slimy, but it makes the allegations less severe.
I also think Frozen North's spin on the official Republican response is off. Unlike that of some outside conservative groups
, the official GOP response has not simply been to say "that's what you should expect, etc." Staffers were placed on leave and when the Democrats asked for a formal investigation, the Republican Committee Chairman gave them one without delay. While it increasingly appears there was no illegal conduct, and it is still possible that one or more of the staffers involved will be punished for violating ethical standards, if not Congressional rules.
Finally, I would note that it is not Democrats who Jack Shafer or I critique for making this a "big deal," but journalists. Journalists are typically the first to ignore the seamy ways in which secret information is obtained in favor of celebrating its content. The departure from this norm is particularly noticeable here because, unlike in the other cases I noted, there was no clearly illegal conduct involved. In other words, I would expect the Democrats to be outraged (as would the Republicans were the shoe on the other foot), but I would also expect more media coverage of the memos content.
RELATED NOTE: I blogged on the substance of the memos, and the resulting allegations of ethical improprieties by Elaine Jones of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, here
. In a nutshell, some of the memos suggested Jones sought to delay nominations in order to affect the outcome of a case in which the Fund was a party, prompting several right-wing groups to file a complaint with the Virginia State Bar. Since the allegations were first made, Jones has announced her retirement from the Fund. Some readers have e-mailed suggesting a connection, but I am not so sure. At this point, I believe Jones' conduct, if it was as is alleged, was certainly unethical, but is unlikely to result in any formal sanctions.
More about Latin:
Remember my previous post
about Latin. Now, Hanah
links to a nice Economist article
about the modern-day popularity (such as it is) of Latin.
Finally, on Latin, remember that the plural of me
, and that the plural of us
. So a double plural is a singular, but you go from the objective to the subjective case. It's like a helix.
Also, via Garrett
, Laser Monks
New Arab Peace Initiative:
new initiative seems worth taking seriously, especially because it undercuts the deal-breaking Palestinian demand for a "right of return" to Israel. As an opening offer, it's a good one; I can't imagine that if the Arab states are serious about this, they would ultimately object to minor border modifications to allow Israel to absorb some of the Judean settlers in return for compensatory land grants from pre-1967 Israel (and many Israelis, in fact, would be pleased to exchange the Gush settlements in Judea for hostile Israeli Arab towns like Uhm al Fahm--towns that Israeli Jews are afraid to even drive through). Moreover, settling the Arab-Israeli conflict in one fell swoop seems far more sensible than the current piecemeal approach.
Race-based peremptory challenges of judges:
See the FURTHER UPDATE to this post
More on liberals on Communism:
The other day, I said
Another note on defending the USSR: Let me put in a note about another aspect of the fall of Communism. Many people on "my side" have suggested that the fall of Communism tells us something meaningful about the feasibility of American-style leftism or Western European-style social democracy -- either that it should make liberals revise their predictions of the economic impact of their proposals, or that it should make liberals think twice about the ethics of their philosophy. I think that the fall of Communism tells us very little directly on either of these points.
That post was just a quickie, and I did get one e-mail that said, just as briefly: "And I think that it does." Randy's last post gives me a chance to develop the thought slightly:
One response of the socialist-leaning to the fall of Communism was, "Now we've learned that we need to have some capitalism to produce what we socialists want to redistribute."
(Compare with Randy's characterization below of liberals who sympathize with the idea of Communism but "conclude that it is impractical to take the principle that far.") Some conservatives and libertarians sneer at that response, but it's not clear to me why it's wrong as a logical matter.
Of course, I think it's wrong as a moral matter (I don't like the Communist ideal even in principle), but I mean it's a sensible conclusion for a socialist faced with this new fact. Someone with Communist ideals may once have favored Communism, based on the simple-minded principle that "If I want X, let's have a society that mandates X," which of course ignores behavioral responses to the X regime which might make the society both unstable as a practical matter and carrying a huge extra human cost as a moral matter. (The former is relevant for all Communists, the latter is relevant for those Communists who also value certain personal freedoms, a la George Orwell.)
Now, the fall of Communism unveils both the instability of the system and (for those who didn't see it before) the huge human cost. Why not say, "Now I realize that the optimal implementation of Communist principles, under real-life conditions!, is really only an extremely watered-down version of Communism, i.e., Sweden." In other words, keep your principles, but realistically revise their implementation (being appropriately embarrassed about ever defending the Soviet Union in the first place).
There may be circumstances where it's appropriate to change your core moral principles, e.g., change from being a communist to being a libertarian. I don't think we have a good idea what motivates those changes. Some people could look at slavery, introspect deeply on the nature of slavery, and conclude that slavery is bad because it violates self-ownership, and based on self-ownership, also come to oppose modern Western regulatory and redistributive states. Others could look at slavery, also introspect deeply, and conclude that slavery is bad because it prevents people from flourishing to their fullest potential, and come to favor a redistributionist system that makes sure everyone is wealthy enough to take advantage of opportunities for flourishing. I tend toward the first, but have never been able to justify my choice by anything deeper than deep moral intuitions.
So, to repeat, there may be circumstances where it's appropriate to change your core moral principles, e.g., change from being a communist to being a libertarian. I'm not sure that the fall of the Soviet Union is one of them.
More Reader Response to Liberals on Communism:
My posts on liberal sympathies for communist regimes seems to have struck a nerve. While a few still deny it or continue to offer apologies, most write to tell their own similar experiences--including some very recent. Here are some excerpts. (BTW, I never post the names of correspondents unless given permission to do so.)
I find it hard to imagine that your assertions are even controversial. Very much the same sort of thing is going on today among some liberals. Many of them have learned not to pop off too loudly in the post-9/11 world, but there's still a not-insignificant undercurrent of opinion that says we should be struggling to understand "root causes" of radical Islam--with the clear implication being that American-style classical liberalism (as amended!), and all its evil effects on the world, are the "root causes." There's still a subset of liberals that's just incapable of making sound moral judgments. (Not that there isn't a similar subset of conservatives.)
I'd like to add another voice of agreement with you on this one. I had similar conversations with liberals pre-1989. One I particularly remember is my high school AP comparative government teacher in the fall of 1989; he argued at length that we shouldn't judge; that the people of not only the Soviet Union but of Eastern Europe had chosen a system of greater stability and safety than ours; and that Tiananmen Square may have been necessary from a Chinese perspective. In college in the early 90's, I continued to hear people claim that it wasn't communism that had failed, but Stalinism, and that Gorbachev was in the process of building the real, true, successful communism which would be better than either Stalinism or capitalism.
I would add, though, that I don't think this phenomenon is confined to liberals. I've heard pro-business conservatives argue that the reformed Chinese communist party, Pinochet, Suharto, and Lee Kwan Hew's governments were leading their countries to bright futures and were better than democracy would be for them.
. . . . I think many liberals saw socialism in theory as a noble ideal. (This view ranged from seeing it as a purely theoretical ideal that couldn't work in practice to something that might work in part (a la early labor England or Sweden) to something that might be made to work in the right circumstances.) From this perspective, the Soviet Union betrayed the ideal into something really evil under Stalin, got less bad under Kruschev, but still had not affirmative contribution to make to the noble ideal. By contrast, China and Cuba, despite flaws, still seemed to have a chance of developing (at least some of) the noble ideal aspects of socialism.
I was very much struck, when reading Joseph Heller's Good as Gold by his "proposal", put I think into Henry Kissinger's mouth, that as the USA is a good place to be rich and the USSR was a good place to be poor, we ought to exchange our poor for their rich. This is meant to be farce, of course. I do think, however, that as with Swift's Modest Suggestion, Heller thought his satire started with universally accepted truths. I think that the statement, if you are poor, you're better off in the USSR would have been accepted by many '70s and '80s liberals.
I just graduated from a rather liberal law school (I know that doesn't narrow it down a lot) in 2002. I was sitting in a class wholly unrelated to contemporary politics (it was actually about medieval Icelandic sagas) when I hear a classmate say "Communism was a good idea. It just wasn't put into practice right." I paraphrase the wording, but not the meaning. I think it's hearing stuff like that from otherwise well-meaning liberals today - the girl was about 22 at the time - that makes your posts about liberals defending the USSR so believable to me.
Yes, we all know that conservatives and libertarians can sometimes say objectionable things too, with which not all conservatives or libertarians agree. But (a) they should be and often are criticized for it (sometimes by other conservatives or libertarians), and (b) I am speaking about a pretty widespread phenomenon, not an isolated remark by a crazy person--though I took pains to attribute it only to some
Because the political principle "from each according to his abilities to each according to his need" appeals to many modern liberals--which accounts for many of their policy preferences--it is natural they would sympathize with a a regime that, in their mind at least, is founded on a more radical implementation of this principle, though they may regret what they think are the "unintended consequences" of these regimes, or they may conclude that it is impractical to take the principle that far--which is why they are themselves liberals and not communists.
This is no different than, because many libertarians are attracted to the "nonaggression principle" that more than a few libertarians are individualist anarchists--a phenomenon that no knowledgeable libertarian would deny whether or not he or she was himself or herself an anarchist--though, of course, anyone claiming that all
libertarians were anarchists would obviously be mistaken.
Friday, January 23, 2004
, in his review of Win a Date With Tad Hamilton
The gimmick of Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!, directed by Robert Luketic from a script by Victor Levin, is that the movie star's bacchanalian lifestyle is on the verge of derailing his career, so his agent (Nathan Lane) and manager (Sean Hayes)—both named Richard Levy, a joke that will certainly give a chuckle to Spike Lee, Franco Zefferelli, Mel Gibson, and a few others...
Can someone help me out here? Is there a producer, or someone, named Richard Levy? Just curious, as it happens to be my grandfather's name. What's so funny about it to Hollywood insiders?
UPDATE: Asked and answered; thanks to everyone who e-mailed. What those three have in common is outstanding charges of anti-Semitism against them, so the idea that Hollywood is run by interchangeable Jews, etc etc. Nothing to do with that particular
More from the Omaha principal:
From the Omaha World-Herald
Two Westside High School students say they were using satire to make a point: The school shouldn't have a special award to recognize the achievement of black students.
Trevor Richards, the Rambo twins' choice for Westside High's "Distinguished African American Student" award, moved from South Africa to Omaha six years ago.
That's why Paul and Scott Rambo, 16-year-old juniors, blanketed Westside on Monday with posters touting a white youth from South Africa for the "Distinguished African American Student" award.
"The posters were intended to be satire on the term African-American," Scott Rambo said.
The resulting flap left all three boys suspended from Wednesday's classes and drew national attention to the mostly white school. The Rambo twins stand by their actions, keeping them at odds with Westside officials.
"It's disruptive," Westside Principal John Crook said. "It was offensive to the individual being honored, to people who work here and to some students."
Crook defends the idea of giving a special honor to a top black student. Those who feel otherwise should have talked to him, he said, rather than upsetting the tone of Martin Luther King Jr. Day with posters that some viewed as mocking. . . .
Paul and Scott Rambo . . . spent weeks discussing the unfairness of an award solely for blacks. Blacks are eligible for every other award at Westside, they figured, so what was the point of a special honor? . . .
"They were pointing out an absurdity with an absurdity," said Michael Duffy, a junior who said he was reprimanded for collecting more than 160 signatures in support of the three boys. "That is the basic rule of satire."
But Principal Crook said the timing and the nature of the posters was insensitive, preventing a healthy dialogue.
"My role is to make sure we have a safe environment, physically and psychologically," he said. "We can't allow that kind of thing to be hung up on our walls." . . .
Duffy said the incident is forcing Westside to face racial issues that sometimes are ignored.
Crook agreed. "Obviously, it's a teachable moment. We all need to be more sensitive."
(Thanks to reader Patrick Charles for the pointer.)
Well, it is a teachable moment: A good moment for teaching that school officials are bound by Tinker v. Des Moines
(1969), the Court's leading First Amendment case on speech in public schools. Tinker
, which upheld students' rights to wear black armbands as an anti-Vietnam-War protest -- a highly contentious position, which many other students doubtless disagreed with -- wasn't limited to "sensitive" speech, or to speech that maintains a "psychologically" "safe environment," or to speech that fosters what principals view as "healthy dialogue," or even speech that avoids "mocking" or "upsetting the tone" of a holiday. (See here
for a few more legal details.) Tinker
did allow for the restriction of genuinely disruptive political speech, but only if there was evidence of real disruption to school activity, and not just some people being offended by the viewpoint that the speech expresses.
There are actually reasonable arguments for why K-12 schools should have complete authority over in-school speech. Justice Black's dissent made those arguments. But it was a dissent; the majority squarely disagreed with Justice Black -- and, I think, with the position that Principal Crook espouses.
Bay Area Hotel Recommendation:
Continuing today's consumerist theme, I had a great experience last weekend at the Holiday Inn Express in Mountain View, Ca. Having stayed on Holiday Inn Expresses before, I wasn't expecting much, and only stayed there because the rest of my extended family was staying there for a bat mitzvah celebration. It turned out to be one of the nicest places I've ever stayed. Great room, with free high speed internet access (they would even lend you a laptop!), VCR, DVD, CD, nice toiletries, sink, stove, and refrigerator; nicer than a typical Westin, except no bathrobes. The Continental breakfast was far above the norm for such things, the lobby had two computers available with high-speed internet access 24 hours, a coffee machine with various high-end drinks available free 24 hours, an extremely helpful staff; I could go on and on. I moved on to the AAA 4-Diamond Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, which wasn't half as nice. (Edit: And the HI Express was only $85 a night!)
Moving your stuff?
Hanah and I also didn't have a great experience with Giant Van Lines, which picked up Hanah's stuff from Arlington, Va., on December 30, and didn't deliver it until over 2 weeks later, when they had predicted 3-5 days. Also, they damaged a bookshelf and a dresser, and didn't put the bed together properly.
Moving your car?
Avoid A AAAdvantage Auto Transport, and National Auto Transport, which is the broker that set us up with A AAAdvantage.
Our car was picked up from Boston on Dec. 29, and didn't arrive in L.A. until three weeks later, Jan. 20. My wife was told that it didn't even leave Boston until Jan. 9. The contract said the expected delivery time was 8 to 10 business days, though it acknowledged that it might take more; so they weren't in violation of the contract. But it still seems to me that three weeks to move a car cross-country (at least 4 business days than they said was likely) is way too long.
A AAAdvantage also didn't communicate well with us -- on Jan. 12, for instance, they told us that the car would be arriving at the L.A. terminal on Jan. 15, and the L.A. terminal would then call us to schedule a delivery, perhaps for Jan. 16, if we were lucky. But no-one called on the 15th. No-one called on the 16th. Finally someone called on Sunday, Jan. 18, when we were out of town, to say that the car had arrived. So not only was there an extra 3-day delay, but they didn't even call us on the 15th (the date they gave us) to warn us that there would be a delay.
On top of that, A AAAdvantage tended to blame miscommunications on National, which is the company with which we had our contract, and which routed the job to A AAAdvantage. In my book, that's pretty unprofessional, and reflects badly on both companies. I think that's probably a sign that it's better to deal directly with the mover, rather than with brokers like National, which is what we'll do in the future. But in any case a mover that really cared about customer service would realize that customers rightly expect the contractor and the subcontractor to be properly communicating, rather than pointing the finger at the other one.
In any case, just a warning to readers. We certainly won't be dealing with either of these companies again in the future, and you might want to avoid them as well.
My friend Jack Schaedel passes along this word of the day, from the people who came up with one word
for "to kill every tenth person as a means of collective punishment."
UPDATE: Sasha tells me that, etymologically speaking, "retiarius" more or less corresponds to "netster." So maybe in a sense we are all retiarii.
You Can Say That!
that two Southwest Airlines customers lost their "hostile racial environment" lawsuit based on offense taken when they heard a flight attendant say "einee meinee mienee moe," a portion of a rhyme that has long since lost any trace of its racist origins ("catch a tiger by the toe," the only version I've ever heard, was once "catch a nigger by the toe"; neither line was used by the flight attendants, who said "catch a seat, we gotta go"). While it's nice to see a sensible outcome from the trial, let's give blame where it's due, too--the judge should have tossed this case out on summary judgment, and spared Southwest the expense of the trial. Instead, Judge Kathryn Vratil ruled, "The court agrees with plaintiffs that because of its history, the phrase 'eenie, meenie, minie, moe' could reasonably be viewed as objectively racist and offensive." Come on! There was no evidence of intent to discriminate, the phrase einie meenie etc. certainly isn't objectively
racist, and how can "offensiveness" be objective? Besides, merely being offended by a stray comment does not mean someone has suffered discrimination under the law. I think I will be sending Judge Vratil a free copy of You Can't Say That!
Peremptory challenges of judges:
has some interesting thoughts about the California practice (I believe called "papering") of letting litigants reject, once per litigant per case, the judge that they're drawn. The prosecution in the Peterson murder prosecution just did that to a judge.
I'm skeptical, though, of the argument that
[W]e worry about the partiality of jurors mostly because they are finding facts rather than making legal judgments. Fact-finding, it seems to me, allows somewhat more play for subtle life-experience biases than does making rulings of law. For those reasons, I guess, it seems to me that there'd be a pretty strong argument that peremptories against judges are unnecessary . . . .
Judges have huge discretionary authority over many evidentiary rulings (when evidence is unduly prejudicial, how much evidence is too much, etc.) -- and, of course, in most cases in most states, they have huge discretionary authority over sentencing. Their decisions in both these areas, and some others, are reviewed with great deference by courts of appeals; even if an appellate panel might have reached a different decision, they will generally let the trial judge's decision stand unless they're pretty sure the judge went quite a bit too far.
And while in other areas, such as interpretation and application of law, appellate judges theoretically review the trial judge's ruling from scratch, the trial judge's ruling is still tremendously important, and as a practical matter involves a great deal of discretion. There's thus vast room "for subtle life-experience biases" in decisions by judges. I have no strong opinions about peremptory challenges generally, as to judges or jurors; but I think this basis for distinguishing judges and jurors doesn't quite work.
UPDATE: Reader Vince Lombardi (the coach's grandson) writes:
Just to follow-up on your post of the California practice of being able to get rid of one judge per case. We have the same approach up here in Washington state -- we call it an "affidavit of prejudice." Each side gets one affidavit per case.
Despite the name, you really don't have to explain why you think the judge is potentially biased against you. You can only affidavit the judge at the beginning of the case -- after the judge makes a discretionary ruling of any type, the right to strike the judge is no longer available. The reason for this restriction is doubtless obvious -- we don't want litigants dumping a judge just because they don't like the most recent ruling.
I think it's a good practice. First, it is used very rarely. We all worry that a judge is going to take offense at being "affidavited" and tend to avoid doing it unless it's absolutely necessary to protect a client. Indeed, many larger firms require individual lawyers to get prior approval from management or a committee before striking a judge.
Second, it's a good way to track what lawyers think about a particular judge. In many of our Counties, statistics are kept regarding how many times a judge is affidavited. When a particular judge is struck more often than the mean over a period of time, it's a pretty good indication of what the bar thinks about the judge's abilities and fairness.
Finally, I think it curbs -- a bit -- the tendency to black-robe syndrome.
Just one practicing lawyer's two cents. Love the site, keep up the great work.
I'd never heard the phrase "black-robe syndrome" before, but I think I can guess what it means.
FURTHER UPDATE: Patterico
likewise argues that judges have tremendous discretionary authority, especially given the limitations that California law imposes on pretrial appeals.
Eric Muller also asked whether race-based peremptories of judges could be challenged much like race-based peremptories of jurors; he suggests that even if there is a constitutional ban on such peremptories, in practice it couldn't be enforced, since each side gets only one challenge, so one can't really show a pattern of race-based strikes. Patterico responds.
Here's my thought: Lawyers might want to challenge jurors partly based on the juror's race or sex (set aside whether it's right or constitutional, and just focus on whether they'd want to) because often that's one of the few things they know about a juror, and because they may have only a few moments in which to decide whether to accept a juror or not. They generally know much more about the judge, or can at least find it out within the time allotted to decide whether to challenge him. Considering the judge's race and sex is thus going to be much less useful than considering a juror's race or sex.
What, no bracha? "Israel Rabbi Offers Prayer for Web Porn Browsers"
"Please God, help me cleanse the computer of viruses and evil photographs which disturb and ruin my work . . ., so that I shall be able to cleanse myself (of sin)," reads the benediction by Shlomo Eliahu, chief rabbi in the northern town of Safed.
(Thanks to GeekPress
for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Reader Michael Zorn suggests that "perhaps there's a tallit that can be placed around the computer."
More on Matrilineal Descent in Judaism:
Orthodox Jewish readers have written in to defend the proposition that since Sinai, descent in Judaism has always been matrilineal. For the Orthodox take on the issue, as well as a good example of how traditional rabbinic scholars analyze an issue (essentially reasoning backwards to find plausible language in the Torah supporting the idea that a custom or law has always existed in Judaism, but ignoring contrary historical evidence), see here
. I don't have any links handy (UPDATE: Here
is a Conservative rabbi's take, including his acknowledgement of the historical changeover, based on the research of Prof. Shaye Cohen), but my understanding of the actual history of the issue is that, as another correspondent put it, matrilineal descent came in Roman times (or approximately 1,000 years after Sinai), and was consistent with, and perhaps influenced by, Roman practice.
UPDATE: Eric Rasmusen raises an issue
that I thought of, but was too lazy to write up: if one chooses to solely rely on biblical sources, and descent was matrilineal in prophetic times, why were Ruth the Moabite's descendants considered to be Jews? I'm sure the rabbis would say that Ruth "converted," but that's pretty clearly a post-hoc rationalization.
Eric also points out that Barry Goldwater's father was Jewish, and therefore "a Jew" patrilineally, but Goldwater was raised Christian, and never identified himself as a Jew, so I know of no modern Jewish movement that would consider Goldwater to be a Jew.
Religious beards may now be banned
in French schools, says Education Minister Luc Ferry
(thanks to Hit & Run
for the pointer):
Discussing the plan to remove Islamic headscarves from state schools, he told a communist deputy who asked about a pupil with a beard, "As soon as it becomes a religious sign and the code is apparent, it would fall under this law." . . .
Sikhs -- of whom there are over 5,000 in the Paris area -- also wear beards because they do not cut their hair. Ferry said they might still be able to wear discreet turbans to school but did not mention their facial hair.
Seems like a textbook case of religious persecution.
American Family Association changes its mind:
Late last month, I blogged (emphasis added):
Julian Sanchez at Reason's Hit & Run reports:
The American Family Association is running a meaningless online poll on attitudes about gay marriage which, they say, they'll be sending to Congress. Presumably, they thought selection bias (who goes to the AFA website, after all?) would yield a huge margin against gay marriage. Except, so far, it's not quite working out. I'm dying to see them forced to send a "petition" to Congress showing upwards of 60 percent support for gay marriage, with another 8 to 10 favoring at least civil unions. That, or watching them try to weasel out of doing so. Have fun. (Hat tip: Amy Phillips.)Makes sense to me -- people who run meaningless online polls (and who, I suspect, were intending to promote the poll as if it were meaningful) deserve to have them equally meaninglessly backfire.
UPDATE: As I expected, there was an obviously non-AFA e-mail circulating urging supporters of gay marriage to vote at the AFA site; a reader was kind enough to forward it to me. (The e-mail also said that it was urging people to vote whatever their views, since "The point here is to have a LEGITIMATE cross section of people voting in this poll"; but even if this claim was sincere, it was unsound, since no matter who got the e-mail and acted on it, the result would almost certainly not be a "legitimate cross section" in the sense of a representative cross section.)
So the AFA wanted a poll that was unrepresentative because it mostly reflected the views of the unrepresentative chunk of the population that visits the AFA site. Instead, it got a poll that was unrepresentative because it largely reflected the views of the unrepresentative chunk of the population that got the e-mail. Bunk either way, but at least the way it turned out it's bunk that hoisted the original would-be bunk perpetrators with their own petard.
Survey says . . . weaseling out. Wired News
reports (thanks again to Sanchez at Hit & Run
for the pointer) that
[AFA representative Buddy Smith said:] "It just so happens that homosexual activist groups around the country got a hold of the poll -- it was forwarded to them -- and they decided to have a little fun, and turn their organizations around the country (onto) the poll to try to cause it to represent something other than what we wanted it to. And so far, they succeeded with that."
Of course, no such poll can be said to represent an accurate picture of popular opinion. But, clearly, the AFA had hoped Congress would take the numbers it planned to produce as exactly that kind of evidence.
Now, Smith says, his organization has had to abandon its goal of taking the poll to Capitol Hill.
"We made the decision early on not to do that," Smith admitted, "because of how, as I say, the homosexual activists around the country have done their number on it."
Oh, how horrible! Those "homosexual activists" have "done their number" on the poll, so it represents what "the homosexual activists" believe, as opposed to what the anti-homosexual activists believe. At least I like the candor: The gay activists have tried "to cause [the poll] to represent something other than what we [the AFA] wanted to." Not other than an accurate estimate of public views, which the AFA poll would never have yielded -- just other than what the AFA wanted.
Now naturally the AFA is perfectly entitled not to report these results to Congress. And we're perfectly entitled to be amused by how perfectly their plan backfired. 'Tis the sport
States' rights approach to proposed Federal Marriage Amendment may be working:
An ABC News/Washington Post poll
reports, to my pleasant surprise (see here
for my fears to the contrary), that the question "Would you support amending the U.S. Constitution to make it illegal for homosexual couples to get married anywhere in the U.S., or should each state make its own laws on homosexual marriage?" yields 38% in favor of amending the Constitution, and 58% against.
This is so even though the question "Do you think it should be legal or illegal for homosexual couples to get married?" yields 55% "illegal" and 41% "legal," and a December 2003 CBSNews/New York Times
poll question "Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow marriage ONLY between a man and a woman?" yielded 55% "favor" and 40% "oppose." Nice to see that throwing in a focus on state-by-state decisionmaking seems to make a difference (I don't think that the passage of time from December to January was the cause of the shift).
Incidentally, several law professors and I sent a letter to a Senate subcommittee last September, opposing the FMA on these very federalism grounds; the text of the letter is here
Another Boomer Remembers Liberals Defending USSR:
Thanks Juan for your post on prominent liberal economists defending the USSR. Another liberal has echoed my previous correspondent
denying that liberals ever had a tendency to defend the USSR (for my original post click here
Sorry, but your respondent's reply seems very much closer to the truth than your more or less claim that liberals [I note your use of "some" but the tone of your post suggests you meant "many" at the very least, and that defending the USSR was an identifiable "liberal" position] tended to be apologists for the Soviet Union. As you say, we all live with our memories, but I recall no liberals of my acquaintance growing up in Brooklyn and on Long Island in the 1950s and early 60s who could be fairly called apologists for the USSR. Liberal in the Brooklyn and Nassau County of my youth meant unreconstructed New Deal liberal. And yes, the doings of the USSR, internally and internationally, were topics of discussion. On this one, I suspect your respondent is a lot closer to the mark than you are.
Well, as a Midwesterner I cannot speak for Nassau County--though part my experience was with a liberal roommate at Northwestern from Scarsdale and his pals from Westchester County--but I do suspect once more that this writer--who tells me he was himself a liberal democrat--rarely experienced the sort of arguments that conservatives heard from some liberals. Perhaps he did not even know any conservatives, so he did not experience the sorts of debates that provoked this response. Perhaps these arguments did not impress him as they did me given his solidarity with his liberal friends. Who knows?
Be that as it may, Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Time, remembers defenses of communist regimes--including China and Cuba--exactly as I do, almost word for word. We are either both deluded in our recollections, this is an amazing coincidence, or the phenomenon was quite real and pervasive--again among some
Your memory of liberals is right. I am 52, old enough to remember liberals being that way. They were not Marxists, nor professional liberal spokesmen like Harry Truman, but ordinary emotional Americans who, on this subject, would go all nonjudgmental. Who were we to judge a China that kept everybody fed, or a Cuba that taught everybody to read? How can we say it's better to live in a society with eight different brands of toothpaste? We can afford to live in a society that spends $XX billion a year on dog food and women's cosmetics and chewing gum. The Chinese need to make sure everybody eats--and communism does that. Under Chiang they starved, under Mao they eat. Communism wouldn't work here, but it's the right system for them. A bit harsh maybe, but it's better than starving. Besides, we had exterminated the Indians, enslaved the blacks, imprisoned the Japanese Americans. Who were we to get all high and mighty? What arrogance.
The general line was that any American who argued against communism in Russia, China, Cuba, etc., was failing to see it from their point of view. After all, they had chosen communism, had they not? And they must have had a reason for it. Let us respect their choice, because in their circumstances we would have chosen it, too.
I remember all that. It does not surprise me that people have forgotten it.
After 1989, everyone except a communist had been an anticommunist before. Just ask my liberal correspondents.
PS: In case anyone is wondering, I consider "liberal" to be an honorable word, and in The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law
, I call the approach I favor the "liberal conception of justice." For many years I called myself a "classical liberal"--which indeed I am--until I decided it was confusing some people and others thought I was obfuscating. Indeed, one of my complaints about modern liberals these days is that you cannot count on them to be as genuinely liberal as they used to be when you need them to be. But that is another topic.
Big spenders (continued):
In reference to Wednesday's post, "We're All Big Spenders Now,"
some readers believe the comparison between Bush's spending increases and Democratic proposals are unfair, because neither is necessarily a reliable indicator of future spending patterns. Under one theory, a Democratic president facing a Republican Congress will be forced to exercise spending restraint, resulting in lower overall spending growth than when a Republican President and Republican Congress join together for a spending splurge (as has happend over the last three years). Perhaps. It is certainly the case that after the Republican take over of Congress, spending was held in check -- but this only lasted through 1998. During the last two years of Clinton's presidency, the Congressional appropriators regained control of the ship and began spending like drunken sailors. So, in my view, divided government is no guarantee of fiscal restraint.
For more on the comparison of Bush and the Democratic contenders on spending, see the ruckus started by Big Dog over at Tacitus' blog
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Another note on defending the USSR:
Let me put in a note about another aspect of the fall of Communism. Many people on "my side" have suggested that the fall of Communism tells us something meaningful about the feasibility of American-style leftism or Western European-style social democracy -- either that it should make liberals revise their predictions of the economic impact of their proposals, or that it should make liberals think twice about the ethics of their philosophy. I think that the fall of Communism tells us very little directly on either of these points.
On defending the Soviet Union:
Randy's correspondent wanted some smoking-gun quotes by mainstream liberals. I don't have such a source handy (though I, too, have encountered mainstream people taking that line). But I did come across this article
which collects sources by very well-respected mainstream liberal economists (Samuelson, who defined the profession for a time, and Thurow and Galbraith of the MIT and Harvard economics departments, quite liberal but not fringe).
Whatever you think of Dinesh D'Souza, who wrote the article, and his assessment of Reagan, the quotes are real:
John Kenneth Galbraith, the distinguished Harvard economist, wrote in 1984: "That the Soviet system has made great material progress in recent years is evident both from the statistics and from the general urban scene. . . . One sees it in the appearance of solid well-being of the people on the streets . . . and the general aspect of restaurants, theaters, and shops. . . . Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast with the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower."
. . . Paul Samuelson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Nobel laureate in economics, writing in the 1985 edition of his widely used textbook: "What counts is results, and there can be no doubt that the Soviet planning system has been a powerful engine for economic growth. . . . The Soviet model has surely demonstrated that a command economy is capable of mobilizing resources for rapid growth."
. . . Lester Thurow, another MIT economist and well-known author . . . , as late as 1989, wrote, "Can economic command significantly . . . accelerate the growth process? The remarkable performance of the Soviet Union suggests that it can. . . . Today the Soviet Union is a country whose economic achievements bear comparison with those of the United States."
This doesn't fully respond to the request for more general ethical defenses of the Soviet Union, but it's not too far off, since this is the sort of thing that economists care about.
More on Defending the USSR:
In response to my earlier post, Volokh on USSR
, in which I related my experience as a student with some of my liberal classmates defending the USSR, a reader offers a predictable response:
Now, I can remember, from my college days, a number of campus radicals of various stripes (Spartacists, RCP's, even, ridiculously enough, self-proclaimed anarchists) who spewed this sort of drivel from time to time, but I do not recall any "liberals" making such statements; indeed, I recall that the prevailing view was that Soviet Communism, as a system, primarily focused on who would be putting the boot in whose neck at any given time, and had simply failed as a viable economic system. Indeed, if one were to publicly hold oneself forth as a liberal (by, for example, working for a Democratic candidate) in the presence of the aforementioned radicals, one could count on a deluge of invective describing oneself as a traitor, fascist, lapdog and worse. . . .
As a matter of further confusion, I fail to understand, as a logical proposition, how one could on the one had identify oneself as a liberal (meaning a capitalist who believes in a significant degree of governmental regulation of industry and the provision of social programs by the government) while simultaneously endorsing communism; a communist is, by definition, not a liberal. As Mr. Barnett insists this is nonetheless the case, can he point us to written examples of liberals (not Marxists, Maoists, etc.) expressing in writing a preference for the Soviet system?
There are a number of responses. The most obvious is that this was personal narrative of my experience growing up. Perhaps the reader did not experience this reaction because he did not challenge the USSR, proclaim his support of capitalism, or defend the US, in the presence of some of his liberal friends. If they were not provoked, they might not have revealed these sentiments to him. Who knows why he did not experience what I did from some of his liberal friends?
But we don't have to travel down memory lane. My son's college-age friend who expressed regret that communism in Cuba would end with Castro's passing is not a 'Spartacist, RCP or self-proclaimed anarchist.' He is just an intelligent but deluded liberal like those of some of my classmates from grade school through law school. That these expressions of sympathy were not put into writing does not make them any less real.
I should also add that I was deliberately careful in my original post to attribute this to some
of my liberal friends, though I can assure the reader that it was enough that I came to expect these responses and needed to develop counter arguments to meet them. There is no question that many hard core liberals, especially liberal politicians such as Truman, Kennedy and Humphrey to name just three, were also anticommunists--indeed leading anticommunists who did indeed take grief from radical leftists. These politicians needed not only to be elected by a generally anticommunist public but also to govern in the midst of the cold war and there is no doubt they were truly anticommunist. But I was speaking of ordinary liberals without such responsibilities, not sparticists, who while supporting these politicians nevertheless in private conversation and debate would articulate exactly the sentiments I related earlier: Although perhaps a bit behind in material things at present, the USSR was a more fair and just society reflecting a value judgment by its people that placed equality above consumerism and the accumulation of needless riches. Who was to say that its people were not happier than ours (implying without actually asserting that they were)? And they either doubted the abuses of power known to exist there, or excused it as necessary temporary expedients on the path to a potentially better society--just the way so many liberals today cut Castro the slack they would never cut a noncommunist tyrant.
Presidential candidate embraces author of book called "Stupid Black Men":
Oh, sorry -- my mistake; it's actually called Stupid White Men
. Funny how an author who wrote a book Stupid Black Men
(not as an ironic title) would be rightly reviled, while when he writes Stupid White Men
, we hear barely a peep? In any case, the author's documentary also apparently includes fiction mixed in with the fact
. (Warning: I have not personally checked the assertions on that page, but I've found David Hardy, and others who have made similar claims, to be quite trustworthy; here's a similar page on Stupid White Men
.) And the author has also apparently slammed the very military campaign that is one of the key items on the presidential candidate's resume. Slate
reports on this third item:
[Wesley] Clark embraced [Michael] Moore's support, calling the best-selling author a "fantastic leader." In the press release, Clark's campaign lauded -- in the first line no less -- the "Academy Award winning director," whom the general himself described as an "enormous talent." For his part, Moore promised to do everything he could to help get Clark elected.
Moore hasn't always been so taken with Clark, at least if his Oscar-winning film Bowling for Columbine is to be taken at face value. Indeed, the documentary repeatedly slams the shining moment in Clark's career: stopping Serb aggression in Kosovo, the highlight of his tenure as NATO supreme allied commander. In fact, Moore suggests that the bombing tactics employed by NATO—and thus Clark—were in part to blame for the massacre at Columbine.
An intriguing theory, to say the least. Moore starts the case against Clark in the opening monologue of the film. "It was the morning of April 20th, 1999," our narrator intones. "And it was pretty much like any other morning in America. The farmer did his chores. The milkman made his deliveries. The president bombed another country whose name we couldn't pronounce."
Actually, as any Clark supporter will tell you, the general can pronounce "former Yugoslavia" quite well. It's no secret Clark's role in the conflict is one his campaign stresses. On Clark's official Web site, author David Halberstam is quoted on Kosovo: "On the military side, the dominant figure had been Wes Clark."
Back in America, Moore finishes off the narration: "And out in Littleton, Colorado, two boys went bowling at 6 in the morning."
Thirty minutes later, Moore trots out exhibit B. For this, the director turns to primary-source documents: news footage from April 20, 1999. A montage begins: We see TV clips of helicopters, bomb targeting systems, and structural damage. "Largest one day bombing by U.S. in Kosovo War," reads the subtitle.
Cue voice of heavily accented reporter: "22 NATO missiles fell on the village of [inaudible name] ... deadly cargo was dropped on the residential part of the village."
Cut to Bill Clinton: "We're striking hard at Serbia's machinery of repression while making a deliberate effort to minimize harm to innocent people."
Cue reporter's voice, more carnage: "On the hit list were [a] local hospital and primary school."
Another subtitle reads: "One hour later."
Back to Clinton: "We all know there's been a terrible shooting at a high school in Littleton, Colorado. ..."
The connection is clear—the Columbine shooting coincided with the Kosovo bombing, violent acts that happened on the same date. One was committed at the hands of two disturbed teenagers, the other on the orders of Wesley Clark. . . .
Moore anticipated criticism of his pick. In his endorsement letter, he headed off attacks from readers who might be inclined to e-mail comments like "Mike! He voted for Reagan! He bombed Kosovo." Moore assures them that Clark is now staunchly "anti-war." (Forget the 30-year Army veteran's authorship of Winning Modern War and Waging Modern War.)
Read the Slate
piece for more on Bowling for Columbine
-- though the article is limited to the view-about-Kosovo question, and doesn't address the factual criticisms of Bowling
, or the little Stupid White Men
Law clinic for legal assistance to servicemembers:
Michael Krauss, a law professor at George Mason University, reports:
I am proud and pleased to announce that the Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers (CLAS) has now been organized and is operating. The executive director, Joseph Zengerle, is a West Point grad and Viet Nam vet, as well as being a tremendous guy (and, yes, a lawyer).
I encourage you to spread the news of the creation of this clinic to all those you think might be interested. An account has been set up for CLAS at the GMU Foundation. If anyone wishes to contribute, checks should be made payable to the George Mason University Foundation, with the cover letter specifying that the donation is earmarked for CLAS.
You can reach Joe [at George Mason University School of Law, 3301 North Fairfax Drive, #404, Arlington, VA 22201] . . ., or by email at jzengerl [at] gmu.edu.
Joe Zengerle further reports (as you might gather, they don't yet have a Web site, or I'd be linking to it):
George Mason law school has an unusually large number of students who have served in the military or have a strong patriotic interest in supporting the armed forces, and who are eager for a clinical experience. The school, whose faculty share their interest, has preliminarily confirmed with defenseofficials the existence of unmet legal needs among active duty members of the services and their families (including those who have been mobilized from the reserve forces). Seeking to match those interests with the need, the Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers (CLAS) began formative activities in January, 2004. Initial law student participants, who include a retired Navy captain, a retired Army lieutenant colonel with enlisted experience, a woman who spent seven enlisted years in the Air Force including the first Gulf war, and a former Senate staffer who hails from a devoted Marine family, will work with the clinic's executive director, Professor Joseph Zengerle, a Vietnam veteran who instituted the seminar on Homeland Security and the War on Terror at the law school. The clinic is now conducting a needs assessment to determine the gaps students might help fill, which commenced with a meeting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Studying substantive laws like the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, collaborating with bar and nonprofit service organizations, establishing compliance with applicable requirements under federal law and other authorities, and structuring the organizational and academic elements of a new clinic, are simultaneously ongoing. CLAS just received its initial donation, a private grant to match the first $25,000 in contributions.
I had the pleasure of visiting at George Mason in Fall 2001; it's an excellent law school, and seems like a great home for this sort of project.
Centrally control, regulate, and clean up the Internet:
Here's part of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reaction
to the notorious bonsaikitten.com hoax site
Unfortunately, the worldwide web is not controlled or regulated centrally. There is not, therefore, any central authority to which we can complain about this, and other such sites. The RSPCA has written to the Internet Service Providers (ISP) who are hosting this particular site to express our concerns and to ask them to close the account with immediate effect.
One of the key problems is the international nature of the internet as well as the fact that it is increasingly easy for individuals to set up websites quickly and cheaply. National authorities are looking at ways of controlling material on the internet and there are many moves under way to try to create legal and practical ways of regulating the web and cleaning it up.
Be good to insects:
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is apparently complaining about cruelty to insects ("maggots, cockroaches, . . . and ants") on a TV show, the Times
(London) reports, as well as cruelty to rats. The Daily Ablution
has more on this. The RSPCA is a private charity, but as best I can tell it seems to play a significant role in law enforcement as well; I do not know what English and Australian laws regarding proper behavior towards insects are.
reprints a transcript of a conversation between reporters and President Bush at a ribs diner in Roswell, N.M.
. Chatterbox's reaction: "Today's lunchtime press 'pool' transcript from the Nothin' Fancy Caf? in Roswell, N.M., was scripted by Samuel Beckett." My reaction: This is a savvy politician (1) having some fun with the journalists (and I don't mean angry scream fun, but friendly sparring partner fun), and (2) nimbly dodging questions that he quite understandably doesn't want to answer in this environment (why on Earth would he want to respond to "What do you think of the Democratic field, sir?"?), a skill that politicians must have to survive. (Note that I'm not trying to overpraise the President here -- you can say what you will about the quality of his policies; I'm saying only that the interchange is evidence of his political savvy rather than of his postmodernism.) You decide for yourself (and feel free to say that it's a floor wax and
a dessert topping); here's the transcript:
Remarks by the President to the Press Pool
Nothin' Fancy Cafe
Roswell, New Mexico
11:25 A.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: I need some ribs.
Q Mr. President, how are you?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm hungry and I'm going to order some ribs.
Q What would you like?
THE PRESIDENT: Whatever you think I'd like.
Q Sir, on homeland security, critics would say you simply haven't spent enough to keep the country secure.
THE PRESIDENT: My job is to secure the homeland and that's exactly what we're going to do. But I'm here to take somebody's order. That would be you, Stretch -- what would you like? Put some of your high-priced money right here to try to help the local economy. You get paid a lot of money, you ought to be buying some food here. It's part of how the economy grows. You've got plenty of money in your pocket, and when you spend it, it drives the economy forward. So what would you like to eat?
Q Right behind you, whatever you order.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm ordering ribs. David, do you need a rib?
Q But Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Stretch, thank you, this is not a press conference. This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket. Let me explain how the economy works. When you spend money to buy food it helps this lady's business. It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work. So instead of asking questions, answer mine: are you going to buy some food?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. What would you like?
THE PRESIDENT: Ribs? Good. Let's order up some ribs.
Q What do you think of the democratic field, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: See, his job is to ask questions, he thinks my job is to answer every question he asks. I'm here to help this restaurant by buying some food. Terry, would you like something?
Q An answer.
Q Can we buy some questions?
THE PRESIDENT: Obviously these people -- they make a lot of money and they're not going to spend much. I'm not saying they're overpaid, they're just not spending any money.
Q Do you think it's all going to come down to national security, sir, this election?
THE PRESIDENT: One of the things David does, he asks a lot of questions, and they're good, generally.
The New Hampshire primary in action:
According to CNN
Clark, meanwhile, took a few minutes to bag groceries at a Goffstown supermarket Thursday. Cashier Carolyn Creeden said the former NATO supreme commander was "pretty good at it," despite dropping a woman's bag of cookies during a discussion of the new Joint Strike Fighter.
UPDATE: David Plotz's piece
is also dead-on.
Every New Hampshirite is liable to stumble across a candidate now and then—"Can you spot me on the bench press, General?"—but most don't seek out candidates. It's a small posse who drive the process. There are 1.3 million people in New Hampshire, but only 10 percent of them will vote in the Democratic primary, and only a tiny fraction of them are actively participating. The same people attend event after event. I have started to recognize them, or at least the types: the Medicare crank, the corn subsidies bore, the property taxes man ...
Congress enacts school choice program for D.C.:
The Institute for Justice, a leading defender of school choice programs reports that "[t]oday, the U.S. Congress passed an omnibus spending bill including authorization for a school choice program for low-income students in the District of Columbia." According to the details
that the IJ put up,
The "D.C. School Choice Incentive Act of 2003" creates a five-year
scholarship program in the nation's capital for low-income, K-12 students, beginning in the 2004-05 school year. Congress allocated $13 million for the first year of the program and $1 million for related administrative and research expenses -- along with $13 million each for D.C. charter schools and D.C. Public Schools to implement Mayor Anthony Williams' three-sector education improvement initiative. . . .
Student Eligibility: D.C. residents who qualify for the federal free and reduced-cost lunch program (185 percent of poverty, or about $34,000 for a family of four in 2003). About 37,000 children will be eligible. Family income may rise to 200 percent of poverty before the scholarship is revoked. Priority is given to students in public schools "in need of improvement" under No Child Left Behind. The bill also encourages preferences for the lowest income families.
Selection Criteria: Students are accepted on a random basis.
Scholarship Value: Up to $7,500 or cost of tuition and fees, whichever is less. Participating schools may not charge scholarship students more than non-scholarship students.
D.C.P.S. Average Per Pupil Cost: $11,649 in 2000-01[.]
No. of Participants: Approximately 2,000. . . .
Evaluation and Accountability: The Secretary will also commission a five-year longitudinal study to evaluate the academic achievement of scholarship recipients, parent satisfaction, and other issues.
Regulations for Private School Participation: Participating schools may not discriminate against scholarship applicants on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity. Single-sex schools are allowed. . . .
Letter from man who defended himself and his family:
Dan Gifford points to this Chicago Sun-Times
[In late December,] someone broke into the DeMar family home in Wilmette through a dog door, stealing a television, an SUV and the keys to the home.
The next night, Hale DeMar was prepared for a return visit. With his children upstairs, DeMar, 54, shot burglar Morio Billings, 31, in the shoulder and calf, police said.
Billings was caught at a nearby hospital and charged with felony residential burglary and possession of a stolen car . . . .
DeMar was cited with breaking Wilmette's ban on handguns and with failing to update his firearm owner's identification card.
The misdemeanors are unlikely to bring jail time. Wilmette Police Chief George Carpenter did not criticize DeMar for protecting his family but said homes are safer without handguns.
DeMar, in a letter sent to the Chicago Sun-Times, is now speaking out:
Village Trustees ... Stick to Parade Schedules & Planting our Parks
Many of us have experienced a sense of violation upon returning to our homes, only to find that someone else has been there. Someone else has trespassed in our bedrooms, looting and stealing that which is readily replaced. Many of us, still haunted by that violation, will never again have a sense of security in our own homes. Few, however, have awakened to realize that they had been violated as they slept in their beds, doors locked, as family dogs patrolled their homes. For me, the seconds until I found my children still safely tucked in their beds were horrifying. The thought that a young child may have been hurt or abducted was incomprehensible.
The police were called and in routine fashion they came, took the report and with little concern left, promising to increase surveillance. Little comfort, since the invader now had keys to our home and our automobiles. The police informed me that this was not an uncommon event in east Wilmette and offered their condolences.
What is one to do when a criminal proceeds, undeterred by a 90-pound German shepherd, an alarm system and a property ... lit up like an outdoor stadium? And now, he had my house keys and an inventory of things he'd like to call his own. Would the police patrol my dead-end street as effectively the second time as they had the first? Would my small children be unharmed the next time? Would the career criminal be satisfied with another automobile, another television or would he feel the need, once again, to climb the staircase up to the bedrooms, perhaps for a watch or a ring or a wallet, again risking little?
Would my children wake to find a masked figure, clad in black, in their bedroom doorway, a vision that might haunt them for years? Would the police come again and fill out yet another report, and at what point should I feel comfortable that the 'bad guy' got everything he wanted and wouldn't return again, a third time?
I went to the safe where my licensed and registered gun was kept, loaded it for the very first time and tucked it under the mattress of my bed. I assured my frightened children ''that daddy would deal with the bad guy ... if he ever returned.'' Little did I imagine that this brazen animal was waiting in the backyard bushes as I tucked my children into bed.
Fifteen minutes after bedtime, the alarm went off. Three minutes after the alarm was triggered, the alarm company alerted the police to the situation and 10 minutes later the first police car pulled up to my home, but only after another call was made to 911, by a trembling, half-naked father. I suppose some would have grabbed their children and cowered in their bedroom for 13 minutes, praying that the police would get there in time to stop the criminal from climbing the stairs and confronting the family in their bedroom, dreading the sound of a bedroom door being kicked in. That's not the fear I wanted my children to experience, nor is it the cowardly act that I want my children to remember me by.
Until you are shocked by a piercing alarm in the middle of the night and met in your kitchen by a masked invader as your children shudder in their beds, until you confront that very real nightmare, please don't suggest that some village trustee knows better and he/she can effectively task the police to protect your family from the miscreants that this society has produced.
This career criminal had been arrested thirty times. He was wanted in Georgia and for parole violations in Minnesota. How many family homes had he violated, how many innocent lives were affected, how many police reports went into some back office file cabinet, only to become some abstract statistic? How is it that rabid animals like this are free to roam the streets, violating our homes and threatening the safety of our children?
If my actions have spared only one family from the distress and trauma that this habitual criminal has caused hundreds of others, then I have served my civic duty and taken one evil creature off of our streets, something that our impotent criminal justice system had failed to do, despite some thirty odd arrests, plea bargains and suspended sentences.
Hale DeMar, Wilmette
As I've mentioned before, Dahlia Lithwick's "Supreme Court Dispatches" are generally a delight to read, and are often quite insightful. She's a very good writer, and a colorful one; and I realize that part of that color is the injection of her own viewpoints. Her piece yesterday
on the latest Supreme Court advising-defendants-of-the-right-to-counsel case was particularly fun and informative.
But then along comes this:
Scalia asks if it really serves the greater good to warn criminals that "if you got an attorney, he'd find some gimmick. . . . You have a right to know that you have the right to get off, even if you're guilty," adding, "We want people to admit they're guilty."
But Justice Scalia may want even the innocent to do that.
Huh? Why would Scalia possibly want the innocent to admit they're guilty?
I assume the author must be joking, though that's largely because the line can't possibly be serious, not because it's particularly funny. Presumably the joke is of the "He's so pro-prosecution, damn-the-rules-just-lock-them-up that he'd even like the innocent to plead guilty" variety.
Except the trouble is that such a joke can only be funny if it's in some sense apt -- if you're saying it about someone who really is in the pro-prosecution, damn-the-rules-just-lock-them-up camp, or close to it. But Scalia is most certainly not in that camp. Time and again, Scalia has actually shown himself to be a stickler for the rules, even when they help the defendant. See, e.g., Carella v. California
(1990) (Scalia flanking Stevens on the left, as to the Sixth Amendment jury trial rights of criminal defendants); Maryland v. Craig
(1990) (Scalia flanking Blackmun on the left, as to the Confrontation Clause rights of accused child molesters, partly because of a concern about wrongful convictions of the innocent); County of Riverside v. McLaughlin
(1991) (Scalia flanking Souter on the left, as to the Fourth Amendment rights to prompt probable cause hearing, partly because of a concern about wrongful detention of the innocent); Almendarez-Torres v. United States
(1996) (Scalia flanking Breyer on the left in joining Stevens opinion as to the Sixth Amendment right to have certain sentencing factors determined by the jury); Neder v. United States
(1999) (Scalia flanking Breyer and in some measure Stevens on the left, as to the Sixth Amendment jury trial rights of criminal defendants); Apprendi v. New Jersey
(2000) (Scalia flanking Breyer on the left in joining Stevens opinion as to the Sixth Amendment right to have certain sentencing factors determined by the jury). All but Apprendi
were actually separate opinions (dissents or concurrences in the judgment) written by Scalia.
Now of course Scalia also often votes against criminal defendants, and one can fault some or all of those votes. One can also argue that Scalia is sometimes too focused on the formal rules, and too tolerant of procedures that may comply with the formal rules and yet lead innocent people to be convicted. But it seems quite clear that Scalia is a big believer in following the rules, even when criminal defendants are benefited by this; and a pretty big believer in preventing innocents from being wrongly treated as guilty, at least when the rules are on the innocents' side.
So I don't see anything particular apt about the "But Justice Scalia may want even the innocent to do that" line. Even if it's intended to be a joke, it doesn't seem to be a particularly fair one. And it doesn't seem to be particularly funny, unless one thinks that any slam of Scalia is per se funny.
Times Have Changed:
Justice Thurgood Marshall, dissenting in United States v. Roth (1972): "In my view, every citizen who applied for a government job is entitled to it unless the government can establish some reason for deny in the employment." It's hard to imagine a Justice writing this today. Reading USSC opinions from the early 1970s (the Court's liberal heyday) is always interesting, because the underlying assumptions, methodologies, etc., have changed so much.
Chicago in midwinter:
gives a pretty good sense of what it's like.
If you're nearby and able to venture out of doors, however, you might want to come by this conference
on constitutionalism in Israel and Palestine. Speakers range from distinguished North American academics such as Gordon Wood and Charles Taylor to supreme/ constitutional court justices from Australia and South Africa to legal academics, civil liberties activists, and former cabinet ministers from Israel and the PA.
Carol Moseley Braun supports right to bear arms:
reports, quoting OpinionJournal's Political Dairy
(it's subscription only, so I haven't checked it myself):
. . . Before she withdrew from the presidential race, Carol Moseley Braun shocked a D.C. debate audience when she said she would sign a bill to repeal the District's gun ban. "I think under the Constitution people have the right to and should be able to have guns," she said. . . .
UPDATE: Matt Rustler
confirms this from a Washington Times
article, and comments further.
"Black" and "white":
An amusing and insightful story from InstaPundit
My brother -- who doesn't look any blacker than I do -- is sometimes asked by Nigerians (in Nigeria) whether he is black. At first he thought this was odd, but one explained "We have Americans coming here all the time who say they are black, but they look white to us."
I wish I had gotten around to placing a bet
against Howard Dean (and Clark) last week, when I was convinced that the likelihood of his winning the Democratic nomination was way overblown. I noticed that Iowa was still competitive, and considered that Iowa often offers a surprise, that Dean seemed to be faltering in a variety of ways, that sober Democrats would notice that Dean's chancing of beating Bush are slim, and that, if my hunches re Iowa were correct, once the aura of inevitably wore off Dean after a relatively poor showing in Iowa, the race would be wide-open. And I saw no great attributes to Clark, other than him not being Dean. Can't say I had any idea it would be Kerry that would emerge so strongly, though. (edited for poor grammar!)
THE BUSH CONSPIRACY GENERATOR:
Want to come up with your own conspiracy theory about Bush? Don't let Al Franken, Michael Moore, and MoveOn.org have all the fun! Use this handy George W. Bush Conspiracy Theory Generator to come up with your own conspiracy theory!*
* This tool may not be used to create Democratic presidential candidate speeches or generate content for MoveOn.org without the express permission of Buttafly.com.
Should you buy freedom for slaves?
Readers of The New York Times
Op-Ed page will know that Nicholas Kristof
has recently purchased the freedom of two young girls in a brothel. It appears that the young girls were held there against their will and tricked or coerced into joining in the first place.
As an economist of course I wondered whether buying slaves will lower net enslavement. I can think of at least two general mechanisms suggesting that Kristof's purchase will increase the number of slaves in the longer run, or at least not lower the number of slaves:
1. Slaveholders and brothel owners presumably hold profit-maximizing inventories. Depletion of inventory will lead to replacement under a variety of assumptions.
2. I suspect that Kristof, a Westerner, overpaid for the two slaves. Slave owners expect such higher prices in the future, which may lead to more slaveholding. Furthermore the cash flow may stimulate investment in more slaves. Even for firms in advanced economies, current cash flow predicts investment better than does real interest rates.
Overall we can think of the slaveholder as more able and more eager to get more slaves. That being said, the marginal slaves will be harder to trick or capture than the previous slaves. So we cannot be sure whether net slavery will go up or down. Kristof's efforts also have a publicity effect, which may either help or hurt the slave trade. On one hand the Cambodian government may be embarrassed and crack down. On the other hand, the slaveowner has received amazing free publicity. On net, Kristof's actions may be less heroic than they would appear at first glance.Michael Kremer
of Harvard has done some interesting work on how to best stop elephant hunting. Sometimes the best solution is for a central authority to buy up many elephant tusks and later dump them on the market, ruining the price and discouraging further tusk collection. I would not advocate that Kristof resell his two women back into slavery, just to lower future prices. Nonetheless such economic considerations once again illustrate the gap between doing something to feel good about oneself, and actually achieving useful results.
Academia/ political theory news:
Princeton's Provost, and my graduate school advisor, the political theorist Amy Gutmann, has been selected the next President of Penn.
Volokh on USSR:
Catching up after returning to town, I want to commend Eugene for his moving post yesterday on American supporters of the Soviet Union: A little bit of embarrassment seems to be in order
. I would add that this support was widely advocated by some American liberals throughout my childhood and continuing up through college and law school in the 1970's. I was regularly told by classmates that the Soviet Union was a morally better place than the US. Although perhaps a bit behind in material things at present, it was a more fair and just society reflecting a value judgment by its people that placed equality above consumerism and the accumulation of needless riches. Who was to say that its people were not happier than ours (implying without actually asserting that they were)? When it came to the USSR were these sympathizing liberals knaves or fools? For all their intelligence, sophistication and learning, clearly they were self-deluded fools, from whom a little embarrassment was always in order, but it was not to be.
My son recently told me about how one of his good friends, a really sweet, smart, artistic, and athletic college student who my wife and I have known since grade school and of whom are very fond, was saying that it was a pity that, when Castro died, it would be the end of socialism in Cuba. My son was aghast. I took the opportunity to tell him that, despite what may be said today, this was what many American liberals had said about the USSR right up to 1989, after which history was immediately rewritten as the Berlin wall was being dismantled and dictators like Ceausescu were being deposed or executed, to assert that we all stood shoulder to shoulder in opposing the tyranny that was the USSR, that they had always opposed communism, and that anticommunism was never a partisan matter. Oh, but it was...and to a lesser extent still is. Just ask them now about Cuba.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Emigration from Israel:
Easily missed in this
story about emigration from Israel is that most of the 68,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who have since left Israel were individuals not registered as Jews. This means that they were not Jewish according to Jewish law, which requires Jewish matrilineal descent. Israeli authorities will not register an individual as a Jew unless the Orthodox rabbinate OKs it based on the rabbinate's understanding of Jewish law.
The emigration of so many "non-Jewish" immigrants is not surprising. Many of these individuals have Jewish ancestors, often on the father's side (which was considered more relevant in Soviet society), and consider themselves to be Jews. Yet, for example, they cannot get married to a Jew in Israel because the Orthodox rabbinate controls marriage, nor can they get buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Formal conversion would be an option, but from everything I've read, the Orthodox rabbinate in Israel has intentionally made it very difficult for individuals who seek to do so to formally convert. I attribute this to (1) traditional Jewish reluctance to seek or encourage converts; (2) ethnocentrism, which is very prevalent among the ultra-Orthodox (and, to a lesser extent, Israelis more generally), though completely against Jewish law and tradition; and (3) a belief that most "Russian" converts will vote for non-Orthodox parties, reducing Orthodox political strength. I think the last explanation is the strongest, because the Orthodox establishment has been noticeably lax about approving the (dubious in a variety of ways) Jewish bona fides of Ethiopian immigrants who are much more likely to sympathize with the Orthodox view of matters such as separation of religion and state.
It would be easy enough of the rabbinate to be lenient with potential "Russian" converts. After all, the "Russian" immigrants will all be fulfilling the great mitzvah
(commandment) of living in the land of Israel, they have thrown in their lot with the Jewish people, and, simply by virtue of living in Israel, they will be more observant of Jewish law than most Jews in the rest of the world, eating mainly or solely kosher food, observing Jewish holidays, not working on Shabbat, etc.
Besides, the whole matrilineal descent standard is (and here I'm going to offend some of our observant Jewish readers) a crock that should be abolished. While the Orthodox like to pretend that all of Jewish law was given to Moses at Sinai, it's obvious that matrilineal descent is a relatively recent innovation, as a quick reading of the Bible makes it clear that the norm in biblical times amongst the children of Israel was a patrilineal descent standard. Why the change occurred is not 100% clear, but is likely a result of the traumas of exile, when many Jewish women were raped, and a patrilineal descent rule would have been a disaster. To the extent the "we always know who the mother is" rule could still carry weight, modern DNA testing allows us to know who the father is, too. There is no reason to keep the matrilineal descent rule except that it's existed for almost 2,000 years; given that the patrilineal descent rule existed for almost as long, why not just call it a tossup and allow either matrilineal or patrilineal descent, combined with a demonstrated practical link to the Jewish people, to determine Jewishness? (The Reform and Reconstructionist movements in the U.S. have already done this; the Conservative movement hasn't, for fear of losing its "halachic" (Jewish law) bona fides. But if the Conservatives can't bring themselves to abolish a rule as tenuous and dumb as matrilineal descent, than the movement is basically useless as a modern, liberal halachic movement anyway).
UPDATE: This is the kind of email that drives me crazy: "laws like this
about whose mother's, mother's, mother was a real jew and israel still wonders why europe compares israel to south african apartheid sounds so very much like half-coloured, quarter-coloured, one-eighth coloured
rhetoric to me." Response: (1) While the ethnocentrism noted above is a legitimate problem, and Jewish identity can be heriditary (but can also be based on religious conversion), it is not a racial, or even narrowly ethnic, concept; Jews come from all racial groups, and anyone can become a Jew. Judaism is, however, a religion of tribal origin, and thus, especially in its Orthodox manifestations, not in line with modern liberal sensibilities. It hardly follows that Israeli rules based on religious tradition are "racist," though, as obvious from my post above, they should hardly be immune from criticism. (2) Relatedly, in Jewish religious tradition, and in Israeli law, there is no such thing as a "half-Jew", "quarter-Jew," etc., because the concept is not a racial one. One is either considered to be a Jew for religious purposes, or one is not. Because Judaism is not a universalistic religion, and only imposes its obligations on "Members of the Tribe," there needs to be a way to distinguish members from non-members, a concept foreign to Christians and Moslems (edit: Islam has the worst of both worlds from a liberal perspective: "tribal" patrilineal descent and
an imperialistic belief that all people should be Moslems). This makes Judaism less liberal in one sense, but more liberal in another--with the exception of the much reviled late-Hasmonean period, its leaders during periods of independence were immune to the concept of wars of conquest for purposes of forcing the heathens to follow the One True Faith. As for Israel, it needs some way to distinguish Jews form non-Jews, to be able to serve its (secular) purpose as a place of haven and refuge for the world's Jews, without being overwhelmed by millions of Third World immigrants (and, indeed, the citizenship laws, based on this secular purpose, are far more liberal in this regard than the religion-based rules of who gets to be registered
as a Jew). The problem with Israel's rules regarding who is a Jew for internal purposes is not that they are racist, but that they allow the entrenched Orthodox minority to dictate the resolution of the issue to everyone else, and that Orthodox political power means that the issue matters for who gets to marry, etc.; (3) I think Germany reformed its laws very recently, but until it did so, a person of German "racial" origin whose ancestors had not lived in Germany for generations and who spoke no German was entitled to German citizenship, while grandchldren of Turks residing in Germany for decades were not (and I believe the former half of the above is still true). And Germany had no religious tradition to fall back on, nor a 2,000 year old history of persecution of Germans requiring a safe haven (though there was post-WWII persecution). In Ireland, I believe, grandchildren (or is it great-grandchildren?) of Irish emigrants are automatically entitled to claim Irish citizenship, with even less cause for such rules than have the Germans. Would my correspondent please point me to all the articles comparing Germany and Ireland to South Africa because of their "racist" immigration and naturalization policies? Only Israel comes in for such criticism regarding its immigration and naturalization policies, and the reason, my dear correspondent, is that you and others have absorbed European anti-Semitic traditions.
Nominee Claude Allen:
President Bush has renominated Claude Allen, an African American deputy secretary of HHS who used to work for Jesse Helms, to the Fourth Circuit. An academic expert on Helms once told me that unlike every other southern Senator, Helms never actually renounced his segregationist past, and indeed never publicly supported any civil rights legislation, regardless of whether it applied to the public or private sector. I haven't investigated this personally, and would be happy to be corrected. But if Helms's views on civil rights were indeed so extreme that he never could bring himself to support legislation banning discrimination by state and local governments, I would very much hesitate before supporting one of his former aides, African American or not, for a federal judgeship.
Update (elaboration): In response to criticism
in the blogosphere
, (1) If Helms never accepted that government should not be allowed to blatantly discriminate, Helms should have been, but was never quite, considered beyond the pale. Those who worked for him should
be tainted somewhat by their willing association with, and support for, him. The U.S. has been notoriously unwilling to honestly face its recent segregationist past; the Trent Lott incident was a nice change, and hopefully not the last example of such change; (2) the fact that Allen is black does not exempt him from criticism for working for a segregationist. Allen may have thought that Helms's leadership on other issues was more important than Helms's contempt for the Fourteenth Amendment. However, (a) beyond his hostility to blacks (Helms came to public attention as a media celebrity who opposed integration) Holmes was most known for his opposition to abortion and his hostility to homosexuals; and (b) a judicial candidate, at least, should be judged for his respect for the Fourteenth Amendment above any purely political stances he may have. Neither (a) nor (b) leads me to have much confidence in Allen as a judicial candidate, though it he may be a perfectly appropriate nominee to HHS; (c) I said I would be hesitant to support Allen, not that he absolutely couldn't win my support. He could start by explaining why he would choose to work for an unrepentant segregationist. I hold him to the same standard in this regard as I'd hold a white candidate. He has no special
reason to respond to this criticism, but neither should his race give him immunity from it. And again the caveat: if Helms did indeed repent regarding segregation, my criticism is moot. But merely the fact that he hired a black man who shared all or large parts of his agenda doesn't mean he did so.
Likely First Amendment violation:
According to the Omaha World-Herald
A small group of Westside High School students plastered the school Monday with posters advocating that a white student from South Africa receive the "Distinguished African American Student Award" next year.
The students' actions on Martin Luther King Jr. Day upset several students and have led administrators to discipline four students.
The posters, placed on about 150 doors and lockers, included a picture of the junior student smiling and giving a thumbs up. The posters encouraged votes for him.
The posters were removed by administrators because they were "inappropriate and insensitive," Westside spokeswoman Peggy Rupprecht said Tuesday.
Rupprecht said the award always has been given to black students. . . .
Rupprecht said disciplinary action was taken against the students involved but, citing student privacy policies, she declined to specify the penalties or what about the students' action led to them.
Karen Richards said her son, Trevor, who was pictured on the posters, was suspended for two days for hanging the posters. Two of his friends also were disciplined for hanging the posters. A fourth student, she said, was punished for circulating a petition Tuesday morning in support of the boys. The petition criticized the practice of recognizing only black student achievement with the award.
One of the school's students, Tylena Martin, said she was hurt by the posters and the backlash she said it caused. . . .
Westside has fewer than 70 blacks out of 1,843 students this year. . . .
[Karen] Richards said her family moved to Omaha from Johannesburg six years ago. Trevor, she said, "is as African as anyone."
Under Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. School Dist.
(1969), speech may be restricted if it's disruptive -- but not because it's "inappropriate and insensitive," something that many students no doubt thought about the anti-Vietnam-War black armbands that Tinker
held to be protected speech.
Of course, if a school has content-neutral rules prohibiting students from putting up posters on doors or lockers, the school may evenhandedly enforce this policy; the doors and lockers are its property, and it may bar students from using them as their own billboards. But if it's punishing students for the views that their posters are expressing -- for instance, if posters are generally allowed, either officially or de facto, but these were the only ones that were punished -- then that seems like a violation of the Tinker
doctrine. Likewise for the school's punishing the student who circulated a petition "criticiz[ing] the practice of recognizing only black student achievement with the award."
Thanks to reader Barry Jacobs for the pointer.
The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism
is the title of a thoughtful review essay
in The Nation
. I ultimately disagree with what I think is the author's crucial assertion, that Islamic anti-Semitism is the product of a political conflict, and will dissipate when that conflict is resolved. Rather, I think anti-Semitism in the Moslem and Arab world has taken on a life of its own, and will persist, perhaps less virulently but still dangerously, even if the Israel reaches a peace agreement with its relevant neighbors. Ironically, many of the early Zionists themselves were under the mistaken impression that anti-Semitism could be undermined by getting rid of its purported root causes--in their case, they internalized the prevalent leftist notion that the cause of anti-Semitism was Jews serving as exploitative middlemen in capitalist Gentile societies, rather than having their own Socialist state in which Jews would become a "normal nation." Irony abounds.
Statistics and the SAT:
The the L.A. Times
anti-SAT op-ed, which I criticize in the post below, has one especially noteworthy statistical claim: "[W]hite students score 206 points higher on average than nonwhites" on the SAT, "according to Psychology Today
To begin with, this seems to be a misquote of the Psychology Today
article, which says "Whites outscore African Americans on average by 206 points." African Americans are fewer than half of nonwhites in America, and less than 40% of the nonwhites taking the SAT (note that the SAT statistics treat Hispanics as nonwhite).
Second, it is whites and Asians
who score much higher on average than blacks and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics. According to Time
, Oct. 27, 2003, the racial breakdown of SAT averages was:
- Asians: 1083.
- Whites: 1063.
- Mexican-Americans: 905.
- Other Hispanics: 921.
- Blacks: 857.
(I assume that this is the same data on which the Psychology Today
account is based, since it also shows a 206-point gap between whites and blacks.)
op-ed quote is still correct as to blacks (rather than "nonwhites"), and it does make an important point. But don't the numbers have a somewhat different impact -- one much less compatible with the "evil whites oppressing nonwhites" subtext that one often hears in connection with the SAT -- when one sees that the gap is between Asians and whites on one side and blacks and Hispanics on the other, rather than between whites and nonwhites?
UPDATE: Reader Michelle Dulak reports:
I was curious what the mean "white"/"nonwhite" score comparison would look like, so tried to find out. The College Board site gave the 2002 breakdown of test-takers as 65% white, 11% black, 10% Asian, 5% "other" Hispanic, 4% Mexican, 4% "other," 1% American Indian. I left out the American Indian and "other" categories, because they weren't in the data you quoted, and tried weighting them by fraction to get an overall mean. The mean for those 95% of test-takers was 1026. The mean for "non-white" test-takers (counting Hispanics as "non-white") was 950. The white/non-white gap is therefore 113 points, not 206 -- if you count Asians as "non-white."
Of course putting it like that obscures the obvious fact that the "non-white" distribution curve is shaped like a two-humped camel. Still . . .
I haven't checked the math here, but it sounds about right to me.
whose arts writing I've always enjoyed in Commentary
, has a quote about someone who tears pages
out of the books he's reading to make them easier to carry around. Teachout could never do such a thing in a million years, nor does he highlight passages in books, "even though I approve in theory of underlining, and I love reading other people?s marginalia in used books and library copies."
I, too, grew up believing (1) that owning books is good and noble and that you should own a lot if you're an educated person, and (2) that books are sacred and that you shouldn't deface them in any way. I've totally rejected both of these -- but not totally, since (1) it's still hard for me to get rid of my books, and I'm actively trying (I gave away over 100 books last year and hope to do the same this year), and (2) I don't make markings in my own books even though I believe that you should do whatever it takes to get more out of the book, because it's your appreciation of the contents of the book that's important, not the book itself. (On Teachout and the sacredness of books, see here
As with Teachout, this last inhibition is in some "deeply buried layer of my psyche." I hope to overcome it someday; I'm trying.
UPDATE: Reader Dan Schwartz (and I) recommend Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
, where she discusses this phenomenon. (Thanks to my friend the lovely and talented Stacey Tappan
for giving me this book once. Anne Fadiman is the daughter of Clifton Fadiman, whose Mathematical Magpie
, a collection of math-related humor and stories, I grew up with.) Anne Fadiman writes:
[J]ust as there is more than one way to love a person, so is there more than one way to love a book. [A chamberlain who was horrified when my brother left his book face down on his bedside table] believed in courtly love. A book's physical self was sacrosanct to her, its form inseparable from its content; her duty as a lover was Platonic adoration, a noble but doomed attempt to conserve forever the state of perfect chastity in which it had left the bookseller. The Fadiman family believed in carnal love. To us, a book's words were holy, but the paper, cloth, cardboard, glue, thread, and ink that contained them were a mere vessel, and it was no sacrilege to treat them as wantonly as desire and pragmatism dictated. Hard use was a sign not of disrespect but of intimacy.
Hilaire Belloc, a courtly lover, once wrote:
Child! do not throw this book about;
Refrain from the unholy pleasure
Of cutting all the pictures out!
Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.
What would Belloc have thought of my father, who, in order to reduce the weight of the paperbacks he read on airplanes, tore off the chapters he had completed and threw them in the trash? What would he have thought of my husband, who reads in the sauna, where heat-fissioned pages drop like petals in a storm? What would he have thought (here I am making a brazen attempt to upgrade my family by association) of Thomas Jefferson, who chopped up a priceless 1572 first edition of Plutarch's works in Greek in order to interleave its pages with an English translation? Or of my old editor Byron Dobell, who, when he was researching an article on the Grand Tour, once stayed up all night reading six volumes of Boswell's journals and, as he puts it, "sucked them like a giant mongoose"? Byron told me, "I didn't give a damn about the condition of those volumes. In order to get where I had to go, I underlined them, wrote in them, shredded them, dropped them, tore them to pieces, and did things to them that we can't discuss in public."
Byron loves books. Really, he does. . . .
To coin a phrase, Read the whole thing.
In other news, reader David Sands prefers BookDarts
, and reader Andrew Solovay
says travel-induced book-ripping happened on an episode of JAG. Reader Trevor Anderson says that book lover Bernard Levin
did this too, with cheap paperbacks. I say, we'll have progressed when we do this too (write, not necessarily rip) with our imposing hardcovers!
properly criticizes an anti-SAT piece in the L.A. Times
. I'm not an expert on the SAT, but to the best of my knowlege the Times
op-ed has still more problems. Just for starters,
- Considering GPAs instead of SATs risks favoring students who go to schools where there's a great deal of grade inflation.
- Letting in the top 10% of each high school will let in students who are quite academically weak, but went to a high school where the other students are weaker.
- The result is not only bad for the intellectual quality of the college, but is also no service to the weaker students who will now find themselves at the bottom of the class, competing against others who are much more prepared for college.
- The SATs coupled with GPAs are actually quite good predictors of college performance, for all the criticism that the SAT has drawn, and to my knowledge are much better predictors than GPAs alone.
- That "white students score 206 points higher on average than nonwhites" on the SAT isn't a sign of bias in the SAT -- I am told that it actually slightly overpredicts college performance by black and Hispanic students -- but rather a sign of the unfortunate underpreparedness of many black and Hispanic high school graduates. This is a problem that needs attention, but letting in underprepared students into demanding college programs is probably not a solution.
One of InstaPundit's
readers complains to the Washington Post
about one of their articles:
In addition to the selective inaccurate quoting, the Post's copy editors didn't catch the Copy Editing 101 glitch in the piece. A policy can't be "too unilateral." It's either unilateral or it's not. There are no degrees of unilateral, just as there are no degrees of unique.
Don't let the man read the Preamble to the Constitution
, which talks about forming "a more perfect union." In fact, things can be more round, more perfect, more unilateral, and more unique; that's just shorthand for "more nearly round," "more nearly perfect," "more nearly unilateral," or "more nearly unique." In the words of Webster's Dictionary of English Usage
, quoting James C. Fernald, English Grammar Simplified
Adjectives expressing some quality that does not admit of degrees are not compared when used in their strict or full sense . . . .
But such adjectives are often used in a modified or approximate sense, and when so used admit of comparison.
If we say, "This is more perfect than that," we do not mean that either is perfect without limitation, but that "this" has "more" of the qualities that go to make up perfection than "that"; it is more nearly perfect. Such usage has high literary authority[.]
Now I actually don't like "more unique"; it sounds imprecise and clumsy to me. I probably wouldn't like "more perfect," either, outside the Preamble, though that would likely be because it sounds a bit archaic. But sometimes there's just no very quick synonym that's more literally precise. And in any event, that something sounds inelegant doesn't mean that it's ungrammatical.
(Note also that "too unilateral" may sometimes mean "unilateral in too many instances," though that wasn't the Post
Libertarians vs. conservatives:
In response to my last post, I received this from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous:
"Prof. Cowen, just a flippant note about the difference between men who describe themselves as libertarians and men who describe themselves as conservatives:
Male libertarians are generally conservatives who want to date liberal women. For example, in law school, when guys that I knew held conservative positions would start talking to me (a liberal) in flirtatious tones, I would ask, "Aren't you a conservative"? They would always answer, "Actually, I'm a libertarian." I'm not sure if any man ever described himself to me as a conservative, and I went to law school in Texas."
"Much of the Patriot Act is neutral legislation for civil liberties":
Who said that? Well, the executive director of the ACLU
, Anthony Romero:
"While much of the Patriot Act is neutral legislation for civil liberties, it contains about a dozen provisions that simply go too far," Romero added. "These dangerous provisions increase the chances that innocent Americans will be swept into terrorism investigations by removing traditional checks and balances on law enforcement and oversight powers from the judiciary."
Obviously, the ACLU still has serious reservations about the Patriot Act -- a dozen bad provisions would still make for a bad law (though I personally don't see a dozen bad provisions there). But the ACLU's acknowledgement that much of the Act doesn't pose any civil liberties problems is noteworthy, I think, given the vitriolic attacks that many have launched against the Act, attacks that often didn't include such acknowledgments.
A couple of unrelated observations:
It's not widely known
that the song Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
by They Might Be Giants
, good as they are, but is in fact quite old. How old? Why, I was listening to it in the late '70s! The words are by Jimmy Kennedy, the music by Nat Simon, and it apparently dates from, at the latest, 1953; it was originally popularized by The Four Lads
Also, check out the true scoop
on Latin and Greek plurals (link through Hanah
, who got it from GeekPress
). One word: Fex
Finally, on the Wasabi
sect of Islam (thanks to Best of the Web
), I also recommend Shiite-ake mushrooms
. Hanah likes to drink Korange juice
, while I like to drink Sunni Delight
. Also, there's pie Allah mode
? (We came up with all these on our own, but of course there's nothing new under the sun
UPDATE: Eric Rasmusen has this
. And, just for more circular reference, click here
. Finally, I forgot to mention my new idea (which again, alas, is not unique with me): Gollum's Sushi Bar
UPDATE 2: One reader "was prepared to dispute" whether The Four Lads
really popularized "Istanbul" until he discovered that it was #10
in 1953 and was a gold record back when that meant more than it does today.
UPDATE 3: Reader Jonathan Steinsapir is annoyed that the song leaves out the city's original name, Byzantium (after the city's legendary founding by Byzas the Megarian
). Note also that the Vikings knew the city as Miklagard
, or the Great City; and that Istanbul was an alternate name for Constantinople as early as the 11th century
. Query: if Glenn Reynolds were a Turk: InstanBul?
The difference between libertarian and conservatism:
speaks on this important topic:
"Conservatism and libertarianism are both generally viewed as right-wing. Can you spell out the main differences between them from the conservative point of view? What, in your view, are libertarianism's shortcomings?
Kalb: They're both viewed as right-wing because centralized bureaucratic control is the main engine of social rationalization at present. From a theoretical standpoint ideological libertarianism is just another form of rationalism and not at all conservative. As a practical matter though it's mostly an ally of tradition because it opposes the main current enemy, the PC social-services state. The shortcoming of ideological libertarianism is that it says that a very few simple principles are enough for the whole of government and social life. Depending on circumstances that shortcoming can cause serious problems. In practice of course things get complex. People who call themselves libertarians sometimes have a strong streak of philosophical conservatism. They might find libertarian terms a better way to explain their case to the American people and even themselves. That kind of fusionist position can work to the extent the political disputes that matter don't involve government functions that conservatives want to keep and libertarians don't. "
I would put it a little differently. I view conservatives as holding first a value-laden vision of what America should look like, involving tradition, family, and a certain sternness and emphasis on just desserts. Libertarians also hold a value-laden vision, but their rhetoric involves a greater emphasis on "liberal neutrality" and competing lifestyles. I view the competing lifestyles vision as much of a particularist value as the conservative vision (while noting I am closer to a libertarian in this regard, but I do not give libertarianism an a priori elevation over conservatism on liberty grounds). Libertarians share the conservative emphasis on just deserts, hence the immense popularity of Ayn Rand in the libertarian movement. It is for this reason that alliances between libertarians and conservatives are often possible - they share a key value or presupposition. Modern liberals tend to emphasize beneficience instead of just deserts. My personal view is to share this value judgment with liberals (I am a determinist and usually find merit arguments unpersuasive), yet through positive arguments I get to something closer to a libertarian position. We also can (and should) use positive arguments to determine whether implementing the conservative value-laden vision, or the libertarian competing lifestyles vision, will do more for human welfare. In other words, we can make conservatism and libertarianism more compatible, and commensurable in the realm of positive argumentation, but only by dropping their upfront values into a position of secondary relevance.
That's a lot of big ideas in a medium that allows only for short posts, I do understand. I very much enjoyed Kalb's observations across the board, read the whole interview, with part three still to come, at www.2blowhards.com
Secondary consequences of smoking bans:
, one of the youngest bloggers, recently posted the following:
"I have just heard in the news that--as of today--Toledo bars have found a loophole in our smoking ban. As you all probably know, a few months ago a ban on all smoking in bars and restaurants in the Toledo area was passed, unless it was for a charitable event. So now the bars have started a not-for-profit corporation that charges people a buck to smoke in the bar, it than goes to their corporation: Taverns For Tots. This shows once again that you can try to beat down business with socialism, but it will fight back to the bitter end. The city of Toledo's lawyers are looking into the legality of this plan, and will no doubt file a lawsuit. I'm interested in seeing if this is, in fact, legal."
The money will be used to benefit economically disadvantaged children. Here is the original article
Sauce for the Gander:
Matthew Yglesias complains
about "a new standard for honesty whereby a Democrat is lying every time his or her comments neglect to include literally the whole truth, whether or not the overlooked fact actually contradicts the claim in question." That's funny. Isn't this the same standard often used by the President's critics (including Yglesias) to label Bush a liar? I say pox on all their houses. As I've posted before
, a lie is deliberately false or misleading statement. Not just any falsehood, half-truth, or mistatement qualifies -- and this is true for folks on both sides of the aisle.
We're all big spenders now:
Last night's State of the Union included the usual laundry list of costly new proposals
, further cementing President Bush's record as a profligate spender. Even with increased economic growth, pursuing these initiatives will further delay deficit reduction. Alas, fiscal conservatives don't have anywhere else to turn, according to this study
by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. To the contrary, based on their campaign platforms, NTUF found that every one of the contenders for the Democratic nomination would increase spending even more than it has grown under President Bush
. The thriftiest Democrat, Senator Lieberman, calls for only
$170 billion in new spending. By comparison, Governor Dean calls for $223 billion in new spending and Senator Kerry wants to spend an additional $265 billion. The loftiest would-be spender is Reverand Sharpton, whose campaign wish list is over $1 trillion, so be thankful he hasn't a prayer in the primaries. To put these numbers in perspective, NTUF notes the projected federal revenue reduction from the 2003 tax cuts some Democratic candidates want to repeal is only $135 billion. Alas, were there only more politicians who could keep their hands out of our wallets.
UPDATE: See here