Archive | June, 2010

From Volokh: ‘Conservatives, Libertarians, and Civil Rights History’

Full post here.

‘The Taft-Eisenhower battle illuminates the fact that the more libertarian-oriented conservative tradition was civil-rights friendly. The more traditionalist National Review crowd, which took over the conservative movement, was not. Yet more reason for conservatives to be more abashed about claiming that their position on civil rights makes them superior to libertarians, and, for that matter, for some of our commenters to be a bit more circumspect about reading classical liberals out of the modern civil rights movement.’

Here’s another take from a previous post on this site. Information found here:

Sowell’s argument is a relatively simple one:  ”innate” mental abilities do not develop spontaneously but must undergo development, which is differentially fostered by different cultures, even when the abilities are general and abstract and do not consist of items of cultural knowledge.

“…Sowell’s approach splits the difference between “nature” and “nurture“…

Also On This Site:  Libertarianism In The Mainstream?: Rand Paul In The Spotlight…Thomas Sowell archives here.

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From The CSM: ‘General Petraeus Rethinking Rules Of Engagement’

Full post here.

“What precise changes Petraeus is considering in the rules of engagement here are not yet clear, thought he helped write the US counterinsurgency manual that stresses the importance of civilian casualties that deeply informed McChrystal’s approach while running the war.”

For the sake of the troops…Obama likely understands the security risks, but many in his party will push him in other directions, and he will have to appeal to the base.

Quote by Kissinger from a previous post:

“Nobody has more at stake than the administration in office. But if you look at the debates we had on Vietnam, Iraq, and so forth, ending the war became defined as the withdrawal of forces and as the primary if not the exclusive exit strategy. But in fact the best exit strategy is victory. Another is diplomacy. Another is the war just dying out. But if you identify exit with withdrawal of American forces, you neglect the political objective.”

What are the best arguments for victory…what is victory in Afghanistan?  So many moving parts…

Also On This Site:  Gen. Petraeus At Foreign Policy: ‘None Of This Is Easy’

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David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘The Culture Of Exposure’

Full piece here.

“Then, after Vietnam, an ethos of exposure swept the culture. The assumption among many journalists was that the establishment may seem upstanding, but there is a secret corruption deep down. It became the task of journalism to expose the underbelly of public life, to hunt for impurity, assuming that the dark hidden lives of public officials were more important than the official performances.”

The personal is political?  A culture of spectacle?

I’ll take serious liberties here:  Perhaps there’s a broader theory in the piece, which contains important truths :  The 1960’s was a period of cultural excess and an excessive pursuit of freedom, without sufficient responsibility.  The excessive individualism (bordering on narcissism) of the boomer generation has left a serious impression.  Upon this period of excess, we have been culturally replacing deeper religious traditions which maintained a more shrewd, realistic general opinion of public life…with a shallower, more idealistic (more European left?) set of ideas.  At the very least, this idealism ignores the duties maintained by the public for its public officials in the old setup.

Incidentally, this is why I deeply mistrust progressivism; behind the idealism and very occasional moral high ground are the same old desires to have one’s ideas triumph in policy and government.  Often this means to centralize power and threaten personal liberty.  I don’t see sufficient checks upon those desires, at the moment.

If it is a spectacle, don’t we all bear responsibility despite the blame?

Of course, there’s also new technology.  Use at your own peril:

“Then came cable, the Internet, and the profusion of media sources. Now you have outlets, shows and Web sites whose only real interest is the kvetching and inside baseball.”

Brooks ties this in to Stanley McChrystal, who acted pretty recklessly:

“By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.”

Are you convinced?

Also On This Site:  Repost-From The NY Times: David Brooks On Simon Schama’s New Book-’Mirror On America’

Repost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’

I’m not sure Charles Murray has convinced me, but he is a loyal contrarian:  Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…and maybe you should still go to college if you can:  Repost-Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?

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Repost: Richard Feynman at NASA

After the terrible Challenger explosion in 1986, Richard Feynman was included on an independent panel to find out what went wrong.  He discovered a profound difference between engineers’ and managements’ probability estimates for number of flights without failure.  One potential (and very important) reason that a system-ending failure can go unnoticed is the tendency of managers to believe top-down explanations.

It’s vintage Feynman, inconoclastic, penetrating and brilliant:

“for whatever purpose, be it for internal or external consumption, the management of NASA exaggerates the reliability of its product, to the point of fantasy.”

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

Just a suggestion with NASA in the news lately…though it’s clear the space shuttles are getting older.

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Gen. Petraeus At Foreign Policy: ‘None Of This Is Easy’

Full piece here.

Likely worth your time, as Petraeus is in now charge of Afghanistan.

A tremendous amount is being asked of our soldiers to act politically and diplomatically as well as militarily (often at their risk).  Whether or not you think the war in Afghanistan can be won, and how it could be better prosecuted (e.g the danger to troops of announcing a timeline, or Biden’s plan to withdraw),  our military has been engaged directly since 9/11 in the Muslim world to break up the terrorists and incidentally, involve itself many other projects of stability and nation-building.  Now that we are reflecting a little on our moral commitments and points of contact, there are still groups of Muslims, often stateless, driven by a violent interpretation of Islam that are willing to attack us for any injustice, perceived or real.

Also On This Site: Bending now to Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.

Related On This Site:  From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanRepost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”

Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’

Full post here.

A follow up on what kind of punishment UC Irvine has given to the Muslim Student Union for this protest of Michael Oren:

Also On This Site: From The Volokh Conspiracy: ‘Free Speech on Campus: Michael Oren at UC Irvine’ Repost: A Few Thoughts On The Current Israeli Military Operation Into Gaza: A Shift In U.S. Attitudes?

A Few Thoughts On (Absolute) Idealism, Both Religious And Political/Philosophical

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From Law At The End Of The Day: ‘Torn Between Religion And Law In Spain’

Full post here.

“The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on a movement that has been gaining much ground in the autonomous community of Catlunya this summer–the regulation of the veil within Catalan cities.”

How to deal with Islamic immigration in law, and the open expression of its traditions immediately recognized as symbols of the faith?

Catalunya, has its own language, Catalan, which I remember being promoted in the schools in addition to/perhaps against the Castillian Spanish that the Franco regime had often maintained…and brutally enforced.

I also recall that in parts of Spain, despite being one of the most Catholic countries in Europe in culture, tradition, and education, many Spaniards I knew were happy to expound how secular and modern the culture was…and in many ways it was…but perhaps that was a little optimistic with regards the economy.

Also On This Site:  Low European Birth Rates In The NY Times: No Babies?

Do you go so far as to strip the cross (or any religious symbol) from its meaning in law?: From The Strasbourg Observers: ‘Remembering Lautsi (And The Cross)’

What are some dangers of the projects of reason in the wake of the Enlightenment:  A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Why do people who understand the depths of Nietzsche so often use him for modern secular/multicultural pursuits (aside from his God Is Dead arguments) despite his nihilism?:  A Few Thoughts On The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy Entry: Nietzsche’s Moral And Political Philosophy

Leo Strauss tried to tackle that problem, among others with the reason/revelation distinction, did he succeed?:  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy

Law At The End Of The Day:  From Kant to Fichte to…Right Now

080405_046 by *chiwai*.

A little further south in Spain, and many centuries ago.

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From Foreign Policy: ‘The Reality Of The ‘China Fantasy”

Full post here.

The “China fantasy” was based more on hope than experience, but the benefit of recent experiences with state capitalism is the chance to replace hope with prudence.

Also On This Site: Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’ From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

From The American Interest Online: Niall Ferguson on ‘What Chimerica Hath Wrought’

See James Fallows’ Atlantic Monthly site.

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From Foreign Policy: ‘Afghanistan Has $1 Trillion In Untapped Mineral Resources?’

Full post here.

The NY Times reported it (what are they after…exactly?) , but our author argues:

‘But I’m (a) skeptical of that $1 trillion figure; (b) skeptical of the timing of this story, given the bad news cycle, and (c) skeptical that Afghanistan can really figure out a way to develop these resources in a useful way.’

Perhaps just as interesting:

‘The intelligence minister, Amrullah Saleh, told his side of the story Friday in a jaw-dropping interview with the Times. According to Saleh, Karzai no longer believes the West can win the war and is looking to cast his lot with Pakistan and the Taliban;’

Of course, one ousted official isn’t necessarily a reliable source, however, it might not be terribly surprising:

Quote by Kissinger from a previous post:

Nobody has more at stake than the administration in office. But if you look at the debates we had on Vietnam, Iraq, and so forth, ending the war became defined as the withdrawal of forces and as the primary if not the exclusive exit strategy. But in fact the best exit strategy is victory. Another is diplomacy. Another is the war just dying out. But if you identify exit with withdrawal of American forces, you neglect the political objective.”

Related On This Site: From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan

What is the plan for Kandahar?  Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’From NPR: ‘U.S Troops Fill NATO Training Gaps In Afghanistan’From CSIS: ‘How the US Must Expand and Redefine International Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism’From Newsweek: ‘Meeting Of The Diplomats’

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From The Nation Via The A & L Daily: ‘God, Science, And Philanthropy’

Full piece here.

Isn’t this always the dilemma when you accept money from someone else?:

“Though some critics refuse to go near anything associated with Templeton, others are forced by its ubiquity to make compromises. Sean Carroll, for one, will work only on scientific projects funded by Templeton (such as the FQXi) that aren’t solely under the foundation’s banner. “It represents a serious ethical dilemma,” says A.C. Grayling, a British philosopher and former columnist for New Scientist magazine; he accuses the foundation of “borrowing respectability from science for religion.”

Templeton site here.   Does it frame the questions in the right way?  And the final paragraph:

“John Templeton did want to hijack the meaning of life; he meant to remake the human race’s moral and cosmic toolbox in some scientific revolution of the spirit. His money has given new life to ancient questions that matter to all of us. But there is also an inescapable curiosity—or for some, like Margaret Poloma, good luck—in the idea that how we think about the most lofty things has become so much at the mercy of an eccentric investor’s later-life dreams.”

Duly noted.  Of course, funding for The Nation comes from somewhere as well…

Also On This Site:  From Nextbook: Philosopher Of Science Hilary Putnam On The Jewish Faith

—Martha Nussbaum suggests re-examining the religious roots of the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams (Williams College)…perhaps to prevent excessive and ideological secularism?:  Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder.

—Daniel Dennet (Christianty paved the way for much of science, it’s time to keep moving on) debates Dinesh D’Souza (who ironically brings up both Nietzsche and Kant to support his religious arguments…to his detriment?): Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy.

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