Blogs

Displaying 131-140 of 25864 results.
ID: 2021
Uid: 18
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: "THINGS NEVER WORK OUT QUITE AS YOU HOPE"
Source:
Body: I'm informed by <a href="http://www.affbrainwash.com/about-james-markels.php">James Markels </a>that in the foreward to <i>The Essential Neo-Conservative Reader</i>, James Q. Wilson defines the neoconservative persuasion as follows: <p>"Neoconservatism is an ... attitude that holds social reality to be complex and change difficult. If there is any article of faith common to almost every adherent, it is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Things never work out quite as you hope; in particular, government programs often do not achieve their objectives or do achieve them but with high or unexpected costs. ... [A] neoconservative questions change because, though present circumstances are bad and something ought to be done, it is necessary to do that something cautiously, experimentally, and with a minimum of bureaucratic authority."<p> Given our current plight in Iraq, the irony is painful. That appreciation of social complexity and human fallibility certainly seemed to desert the neoconservatives in the run-up to war. But now that we're stuck trying to engineer the Iraqi Great Leap Forward from a backward tribal despotism to a modern liberal democracy, we're learning a lot about"high [and] unexpected costs." <p>
ID: 2022
Uid: 16
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: LUTHER AS "RANDIAN HERO," PART II
Source:
Body: <a href="http://www.therightchristians.org/archives/000379.html"> Allen Brill at The Right Christians <a> &#8220;nearly gagged&#8221; when he saw my <a href="http://hnn.us/articles/1621.html#12110301"> comparison of Luther <a> (at least as depicted in the movie) to a Randian hero. He proceeds to give many examples of how Luther and Rand differed on range of issues including the role of greed, etc.<P> My comparison was a limited one and not intended to be revisionist history. I was arguing that Luther, like a Randian hero, was a rare example of an individual who showed integrity by risking all to stand up for an unpopular cause. I would not pretend to argue that Luther was a"Randian" in other respects. He certainly was not. As the proud grandson of Rev. Gudbrand Gudbrandson Beito of Rolling Forks Lutheran Church in Rolling Forks, Minnesota, I am fully aware of the differences. <P> As I grow older and observe the chocolate-eclair like pliancy and complacency of so many of my colleagues in higher education, I have come to appreciate more than ever just how rare it is for people of good will to swim against the tide of conformity. The question of whether I agree with them in all other respects seems less important, at least in that context.<P> Arthur and Chris: comments?<P>
ID: 2023
Uid: 25
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: CORRECTION
Source:
Body: <P>The reporting about the just-upheld campaign-finance law has been confusing, probably because the law itself is so confusing. At any rate, <a href="http://hnn.us/articles/1621.html#12100302"> yesterday </a> I stated, apparently erroneously, that issue ads which implicitly target candidates were <i>banned</i> in the 60 days before an election and 30 days before a primary. It seems that the law only heavily restricts such advertising by imposing rules on how the money for it can be raised and spent. But the ads are not banned. See? The state isn&#8217;t so bad after all.
ID: 2024
Uid: 21
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: JUS IN BELLO
Source:
Body: <P> [Cross-posted at <a href="http://praxeology.net/unblog12-03.htm#07">In a Blog's Stead</a>] <br><br> I have a problem with both sides in the debate over Lt. Col. Allen West. <br><br> West's defenders say his actions were justified because they resulted in information that helped to avert an attack on his unit. Let's think what that means. If such a defense is correct, then why should it apply solely in this particular case? Wouldn't it follow that torturing prisoners of war is justified <i>whenever</i> it might result in information that could prevent an enemy attack? (And if you think beating a bound prisoner and discharging a gun near his head isn&#8217;t torture, ask yourself whether you'd feel the same way if Iraqis had done it to an American soldier instead of vice versa.) <br><br> Are we really prepared to toss out the window this most basic protection for POWs, this hard-won victory of the party of civilisation over the party of barbarism? If so, to what principle can we appeal when our own soldiers receive abuse from enemy captors? <br><br> Those who defend such conduct are fond of saying"This is war!" &#8211; as though this were some sort of unanswerable, blanket license for suspending the requirements of morality. But if folks in the <i>inter arma silent leges</i> crowd really do regard morality as a mere human contrivance, to be discarded whenever it grows inconvenient, the self-righteous <i>moralising</i> tone of their pronouncements seems a bit incongruous. <br><br> But I have a problem with many of West's critics as well. What West did was wrong, but there's little justice in letting punishment fall on <i>him</i> while giving a pass to the authorities who put him in such an untenable position in the first place. (And the Army's weaselly treatment of West, threatening to prosecute him not for what he did but for refusing to resign meekly and quietly, has been inexcusable.) When arrogant princes like Bush and Cheney, who have presided over countless bombings of innocent civilians, hang someone like West out to dry for a far lesser crime, it's hard to feel anything but disgust.
ID: 2025
Uid: 24
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: PROCESS AND PROCEEDURES: HOW BUREAUCRACY DEFEATS DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY
Source:
Body: The decline of liberal democracy in this county was accompanied by the rise of bureaucracy at the beginning of the 20th century. Initially, this was seen by the early"progressives" as a way to insure fairness in the application of rules. Experts, not politicians, would make the decisions, removing decision-making from the play of politics. <P> It didn't work. Instead, politicians used the newly created regulatory bureaucracy to escape scrutiny or criticism. After all, they said, it's a matter of"following the rules." And they found it fabulously successful: Americans are easily whipped into submission by any petty bureaucrat waving"the rules" in from of them.<P> A case in point is the University of Alabama, which recently banned from on-campus distribution the publications of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the Alabama Scholars Association (ASA), and the Federalist Society. Why? The real reason is that administrators do not like the ASA. The AAUP and the Federalist Society are simply collateral damage. <P> How do you ban things these days? You cite"postal regulations." That's right: the post office and its rules are being used to defeat the first amendment. We are told that the University would be violating"postal regulations" if it allowed distribution of our materials. Faculty who would object to any outright attack on their constitutional rights shut up and tuck their tails between their legs when"regulations" are mentioned. After all, they say, it's"the rules."<P> That's how you defeat deliberate democracy and constitutional rights in America today. <P>
ID: 2026
Uid: 16
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: "LUTHER"
Source:
Body: I just saw the film <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/Luther-1125461/cast_crew.php"> &#8220;Luther<a>.&#8221; My background, if nothing else, compelled me. I was raised by devout Minnesotan Lutherans who tried to live up to the best standards of that faith. Also, my grandfather and great grandfather (both Norwegian born) served as Lutheran pastors in Texas and Minnesota. Some people in my family hoped that I would follow in their footsteps.<P> The film was really quite good. Of course, there is plenty of room for complaint: Luther&#8217;s dark side is almost completely avoided and a subplot involving a handicapped child misfires (though my wife liked it). <P> Still, I chose to overlook any flaws for the larger message which is not so much about faith as it is about the importance of individual conscience, a rare quality in higher education today. The character Luther, in many ways, comes across as a Randian hero (Chris and Arthur please note) who shows integrity in standing up for his beliefs against incredible odds. <P> The performances are top-flight including Joseph Fiennes in the title role and Peter Ustinov (one of my childhood favorites). Despite Ustinov's considerably advanced age, he nearly steals the show as the relic-collecting German prince who is won over by Luther&#8217;s critique of the Catholic Church. <P>
ID: 2027
Uid: 14
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: WHAT PRIVATE FINANCING OF HIGHER EDUCATION BUYS
Source:
Body: <p>I wrote recently on <a href="http://scsu-scholars.blogspot.com/2003_12_01_scsu-scholars_archive.html#107065319760913287">SCSU Scholars</a> about a graph I saw in a recent copy of <a href="http://www.investors.com">Investors Business Daily</a>. It was of spending per capita on higher education in the <a href="http://www.oecd.org">OECD</a> countries. Unlike primary and secondary education, where we&#8217;re quite ordinary, the U.S. spends 2.7% of its GDP on higher education, a full percent more than the OECD average. IBD notes approvingly: <blockquote>Americans are disappointed with their elementary and secondary schools, which use a lot of money but underperform other nations' school systems. Our university system is another matter. Americans spend more than any other nation on university and college education. It's a key part of our productivity edge.</blockquote>One of the things I did note in reading the data was that the difference was almost entirely due to private spending on higher education; we&#8217;re approximately average (on a share of GDP basis) within the OECD. And as an export service higher education does very well, as the thousands of international students on <a href="http://condor.stcloudstate.edu/~intstudy/">even middling Midwest state university campuses</a> will attest. So I wondered aloud whether its the private/public sector mix that is giving US higher education a comparative advantage. <p>Perhaps, says <a href="http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/pdf/materials/285.pdf">Jon Sanders</a> at the Goldwater Institute. I would avoid the regression analysis he shows -- it looks for an immediate effect of higher education spending on state economic activity, whereas the usual arguments are about long-run effects of increased human capital -- but consider instead his last two tables. Which states had the most growth over the last twenty years? Mostly in the northeast -- Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware. How many top-tier institutions in those states are public universities? Zero. Of the twelve states that increased public spending on higher education by at least $10 per person on an inflation-adjusted basis, the one with the highest level of state economic activity per person is Michigan, 12th in the nation. So maybe that is it? <p>Think again, says <a href="http://mthollywood.blogspot.com/2003_12_01_mthollywood_archive.html#107090194344438866">John Bruce</a>. He connects the high degree of private financing to the increasing degree of plagiarism and credentialism on American campuses.<blockquote>I've seen the observation that in countries where public corruption is common, the corruption itself is seen as an important check and balance against unreasonable government action. The government may pass a burdensome law, and the political system may not provide for mitigation through the normal process, but that's OK, because you can always pay a bribe and get around that law anyhow. It's not an equitable solution, but it works for some, and thus, no revolution. At least for a while.<P>I think the satisfaction that US higher-education consumers show, by voting with their pocketbooks, is similar. The parents are buying (I am using a synecdoche here) a decal for the back window of their car, which continues to carry a cachet of meritocratic achievement -- although cracks are starting to show in that system.</blockquote>Readers of L&P are no doubt well aware of the cracks, the breakdown in academic honesty and the rise of coursework that rewards students with high grades and promises of a rich future in the professoriate themselves (though perhaps as <a href="http://www.invisibleadjunct.com">adjuncts</a>) simply for parroting their leftist teachers. The question that bothers me, and one I have no satisfactory answer for, is whether that problem is a function of the public or the private part of the financing mix.
ID: 2028
Uid: 18
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: CONGRESSIONAL COWARDICE
Source:
Body: David Broder had <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40180-2003Dec5.html">an interesting column </a>in Sunday's Washington Post (did I <i>really</i> just type that?). In it, he explores who should get the blame for the post-9/11 growth of the Imperial Presidency. Through much of the 20th century, from Truman's"police action" in Korea, through Bill Clinton's"bimbo bombings," executive aggrandizement was the main cause. Presidential power in foreign policy grew as a result of unilateral action by the president, sometimes--as in the case of the 1999 Kosovo war--in defiance of Congress's refusal to authorize military action. <P> Broder cites constitutional scholar Louis Fisher, who says that over the last 2+ years, much of the blame for our current foreign policy dilemma can be placed on the legislative branch. He's right. Since 9/11, Congress has shirked its constitutional power over war and peace in a disgraceful orgy of buck-passing and ass-covering. When it comes to the war power, Congress has said to the president, in essence,"hey, it's your call!" <P> The use-of-force resolution Congress passed immediately after September 11, 2001, is a blanket delegation of authority to the president, authorizing him to make war on ''those nations, organizations, or persons <i>he determines </i>planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons'' [emphasis added]. By its plain terms, the resolution leaves it to the president to decide when the evidence that a target nation has cooperated with al-Qaeda justifies war. It's an invitation to abuse, and it's amazing that it hasn't been abused thus far, to justify war with other nations on the neocon hit list. <P> Similarly, after voting for the Iraq war resolution, which gave the president all the authority he needed to attack, prominent members of Congress insisted that they hadn't really voted to use force. To this day, John Kerry justifies his vote for the Iraq war by saying he wanted to empower the president to end the impasse peacefully--even though the resolution authorized military action and would be used by the president as the equivalent of a declaration of war. Luckily, Kerry seems to be paying a political price for his gutlessness. <P> There's been executive aggrandizement aplenty in the last two years--this is, after all, a president who claims the right to summarily declare American citizens"enemy combatants" and lock them up forever. But as Fisher notes, much of our current predicament can be blamed on congressional cowardice and dereliction of duty. <P>
ID: 2029
Uid: 16
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: THE MIDDLE EASTERN THIRD WAY AND THE NEO-CONS
Source:
Body: Iran&#8217;s Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel prize, shows again that there are many in the Middle East who do not fit into the simplistic"if you&#8217;re not with us, you&#8217;re against us&#8221; view of the world propagated by the neo-conservative Wilsonians in the Bush administration. She continues to stand up, often at considerable risk, for democracy in Iran but, at the same time, <a href="http://news.lycos.com/news/story.asp?section=Breaking&storyId=805478"> just as consistently condemns <A> the U.S. war in Iraq. <p> The Bush administration, which continues to fall into the fallacy of dividing people in the Middle East into neat and tidy anti-U.S. terrorists/pro-U.S. freedom fighters categories, should take note.
ID: 2030
Uid: 25
Author: 32
Category: 41
Title: MONEY AND POLITICS
Source:
Body: <P>The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/10/national/10CND-SCOT.html?hp">Supreme Court</a> has upheld the fascistic campaign-finance law, which limits how much money people can give to political parties (who&#8217;d want to do that?) and, even more egregiously, bans political &#8220;issue ads&#8221; by private groups in the last 60 days of campaigns. The 5-4 majority said the appearance of government corruption justifies these restrictions. In other words, the distributive state <i>requires</i> the suppression of free speech and private property (money). Or in still other words, if the powers that be can make people <i>think</i> the system isn&#8217;t corrupt, it can carry on indefinitely. <p>Oh, one last thing: this is one of the bills that President George W. Bush <i>didn&#8217;t</i> veto. (He hasn&#8217;t vetoed any, actually.)