Tag Archives: Politics

Robert Tracinski At The Federalist: ‘Neil DeGrasse Tyson & The Metaphysical Dilemma Of The Left’

Full piece here.

Explainers and popularizers often run into the problem of hubris; what they know of their limited fields is limited (even and especially if it is physics). They can often be pressed to become public figures and end-up cogitating on everything under the sun.  If left out in public too long, bad things can happen.

Not all Neil DeGrasse Tyson followers are Leftist ideologues I imagine; people constantly on the lookout to advance their ideological preferences and failed theory of history under the veneer of (S)cience.  Many people, however, are clearly trying to put something into, and take something out-of, DeGrasse Tyson that has little to do with physics.

Human ignorance and metaphysical scorn towards the sciences aren’t merely the provinces of religion either, as the need for meaning, purpose, belonging, identity etc. are ever-present.  The radical, nihilist, and anarchic types more often found under the banner of liberalism are clear proof of that. The group-think and proclamations of evil coming from the Left serves another fine example.

Many artists, writers, musicians etc. are consistently in the meaning-making business through their arts.  Their contributions will live or not live on through following generations and through their art.

I remain highly skeptical of people in the ‘narrative’ business (as I engage in the very same), people who might see their tasks as cultural gatekeepers; perhaps to protect and advance the arts, but who often bring a lot of unexamined ideological and political assumptions along.

This isn’t really science, either.

We should be clear on that part.

Tracinski on the Leftist part:

‘Now put these two together: the left’s imperative to think of itself as a tradition of free-thinkers opposed to religious dogma, and their need for a scientific theory that validates their prejudice against capitalism—and you get the impetus for the whole mentality of what the blogger Ace of Spades calls the “I Love Science Sexually” crowd (a play on the name of a popular Facebook page). And you can also understand their adulation of popularizers like Neil deGrasse Tyson who repeat this conventional wisdom back to them and give it the official imprimatur of science.’

On that note, one of the key questions in political philosophy is:  Who has the moral legitimacy to be in charge?

A general who’s fought honorably in a decisive victory? A religious leader? A scientist with/without practical knowledge of politics and just how local it is?

A Statesman who maintains your favored principles and isn’t too personally or politically compromised to get things done?

What do you think ought to be the duty of a scientist in relation to all of that?

Repost-Politics Here, Politics There, Politics Everywhere?-From The Hoover Institution: ‘David Mamet On Conservatism’

Video included at the link.

Celebrated American playwright David Mamet underwent a conversion to conservatism in rather dramatic and public fashion a few years ago.  In leaving his liberal views behind, he’s no doubt become a heretic to some.  At the link, he hosts an interview at Il Forno in Santa Monica with Uncommon Knowledge’s Peter Robinson.

Here’s my take, for what it’s worth:

-Born and raised in Chicago, Mamet seems pretty old-school and pretty tough.  He reminds me a bit of Norman Mailer, verbally pugilistic and combative, though unlike Mailer he’s taken a different turn into ju-jitsu, instead of boxing, as well as into a different set of motivating principles.  Alec Baldwin’s Death-Of-A-Salesman-on-steroids speech from Glengarry Glen Ross is a well-known example of Mamet’s work (demonstrating the kind of balls-out truth-telling dialogue from which Baldwin has possibly not recovered).  I’m guessing Mamet grew-up back before anti-bullying campaigns and excessive political correctness became the norm.

Mamet also cites Chicago School Of Economics neoclassical thinkers’ Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell and Austrian economist/political philosopher Friedrich Hayek as central to his conversion.  Hayek’s rather tragic view of limited resources and opportunity costs being the natural state of affairs for mankind is clearly an influence. This would generally lead one to eschew the Statist/rationalist idealism and socialist utopianism typically associated with many Left and liberal Left movements.

***As I understand it, Thomas Sowell, after becoming a young Marxist eventually became a young ex-Marxist, embracing a hard-bitten empiricism regarding outcomes and results, not the intentions, of economic and social policies.  See him discuss his later vision of human nature and political organization in a Conflict Of Visions.

-Mamet cites the Bible, but mainly the Talmud as a source of wisdom and knowledge to draw upon as a guide for flawed human nature. Jewish folks in the U.S. have traditionally formed a reliably liberal/Democratic voting bloc, so unlike many Christian religious conservatives, they aren’t necessarily voting Republican.  There are no doubt many reasons for this, but to be sure, there are also many tales of neoconservatives ‘mugged’ out of the social sciences and policy-making halls of the liberal establishment into doubt and skepticism, some chased away by the New Left.  There is also a conservative Christian/Jewish pro-Israel alliance which has traditionally been strong on national defense (some fundamentals of that American/Israeli relationship may be changing).

Religious belief can ground one in a kind of traditional and tragic view of human nature.  This, say, as opposed to human nature understood as simply a blank slate or existentialist absurdity, or by some political movements as human clay to be molded with the right knowledge and right people in charge of our social institutions (they always seem to nominate themselves).  As Mamet discusses in the video, there are distinctions to be made between Talmudic justice and social justice.

I’m guessing he might agree there are distinctions to be made between abstract equality and equality under the law (the exception of Civil Rights and black folks held under the civil laws is discussed).  I’m also guessing he’d argue there are distinctions to be made between life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on one hand, and liberation theology and/or individual freedom granted by a rights-based cohort in charge of government on the other.

-Mamet also touches on the fact that the arts aren’t a political endeavor.  If writing a play is simply a didactic enterprise and/or a vehicle for deploying a political philosophy (Ayn Rand?), then I think the artist has probably failed in some fundamental way to show the audience/reader a unique truth which only that work of art has to show.  Didactic art can come across as clunky at best, pure propaganda at worst.

Personally, I tend to believe that politics, religion, convention and popular thinking all have trouble with the arts.

Anyways, this is just a brief summary.  Any thoughts or comments are welcome.

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

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Christopher Hitchens referenced Hayek’s work in reviewing Mamet’s book.  For Hitchens it seems, Mamet was adopting the grim literalism of religious texts without a richness of irony vital to the Western tradition (Hitchens cites Hegel).  He also charges Mamet with taking-up his new political commitments with the zeal and ignorance of the newly converted.

Hitchens:

 ‘I have no difficulty in understanding why it is that former liberals and radicals become exasperated with the pieties of the left. I have taught at Berkeley and the New School, and I know what Mamet is on about when he evokes the dull atmosphere of campus correctness. Once or twice, as when he attacks feminists for their silence on Bill Clinton’s sleazy sex life, or points out how sinister it is that we use the word “czar” as a positive term for a political problem-solver, he is unquestionably right, or at least making a solid case. But then he writes: “The BP gulf oil leak . . . was bad. The leak of thousands of classified military documents by Julian Assange on WikiLeaks was good. Why?” This is merely lame…,’

So, why is Hollywood so reliably liberal on so many issues?:

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Related On This SiteVia Youtube: Christopher Hitchens On Faith And Virtue

Taking religion out of the laws, and replacing it with a Millian/Aristelolian framework?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder…From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

People are using art for political, religious, commercial and ideological reasons as always…right or left…believer or non-believer…Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And AestheticsFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit

Trading Robert Moses for Brailia…an authoritarian streak?:  Brasilia: A Planned CityAnd AestheticsRoger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza… A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…Marketplace aesthetics in service of “women”: Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And Aesthetics

Can Kant do all that heavy lifting…what are some of the dangers of Enlightenment project?:  From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantA Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?…Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Two Quotations From Keeping The Tablets

Referring to this book:

“Rationalism in politics means, in Oakeshott’s challenging phrase, making politics as the crow flies, i.e. ideologically.  Hayek, a student of the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises and for many years a professor of economics a the University of Chicago, shows that this mode of thought is characteristic of one major stream of Continental (primarily French) social criticism, which he labels “scientism” to distinguish it from the other principal stream, which issues into social science properly understood (recall Jeffrey Hart’s essay.  The one tradition insists on science’s ability to order society according to a rational plan; the other counsels the dependence of reason on nonrational circumstances, its inability to survey and command the whole of society, its limited room to maneuver in the interstices of society.  Placing Burke, Hume, and Tocqueville squarely in the latter camp, Hayek shows why traditionalism is closer to the free market analysis of libertarianism than is commonly thought.”

and:

“In contrast to both Hayek and Vogelin, Leo Strauss presents a profound critique of rationalism that culminates in the renewed authority of reason to guide moral and political life.  Not the reason of Hegel or Rousseau or Hobbes, however, but the practical wisdom, the prudence, of statesmen-especially as explicated and defended by Aristotle.”

Buckley Jr., William F. & Charles R. Kesler.  Keeping The Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought-A Revised Edition of American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print.

Related On This Site: Martha Nussbaum has her own project with Aristotelian roots:   Bryan Magee Via Youtube: ‘Martha Nussbaum On Aristotle’Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Some Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Surely you think science should be taught in schools, but what about administered…is Dennett deeper than the following criticism?: From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’…does Kant lead to a liberal political philosophy?: From JSTOR: Excerpt From “Rousseau, Kant, And History” By George Armstrong Kelly

Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘The Truth About Truthiness’

Full post here.

‘Longtime readers know that I tend to get my back up when I see journalists and academics opining that our national political divide exists because liberalism is smart and conservatism is dumb.’

Well-written and considered. There’s plenty of confirmation bias in political matters, and you could’ve easily envisioned how this research, whatever its merits, would end-up as clickbait for fellow-travelers and group-think for political/tribal/ideological advantage.

From Boston.Com Via The A & L Daily: ‘The Surprising Moral Force Of Disgust’..Roger Scruton At The New Atlantis: ‘Scientism In The Arts & Humanities’John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’

Via The Future Of Capitalism: ‘Nurse Union Chief’s Communist Past’

Future of Capitalism here.

Original article here.

The head of NY biggest nurse’s union:

“I’ve absolutely been an activist since high school,” said Ms. Furillo. “It helped make me who I am.”

When Ms. Furillo was 25, she was an active member of the Young Workers Liberation League, a youth arm affiliate of the Communist Party USA, and an editor of its Young Worker publication. She wrote in 1975: “It is clear that for youth today, there is no real and meaningful future under capitalism. Capitalism means joblessness, racism and degeneracy.”

And from the NY Times on current NYC mayor Bill de Blasio’s past:

‘His activism did not stop. In the cramped Lower Manhattan headquarters of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, where he volunteered, Mr. de Blasio learned to cause a stir. He and a ragtag team of peace activists, Democrats, Marxists and anarchists attempted to bring attention to a Central American cause that, after the Sandinistas lost power in a 1990 election, was fading from public view. “The Nicaraguan struggle is our struggle,” said a poster designed by the group’

Let’s call the activism of our current President more tame, less radical and more ‘progressive:’

A WaPo piece looked at Organizing For Action, the President’s bid to to make a non-profit fundraising machine out of his coalitions and activist supporters around the time of his second election.

An OFA spokeswoman’s defense of the group’s mission:

“We are confident as we have always been in our abilities to programatically and financially fulfill the mission we have laid out, working on issues like raising the minimum wage for Americans and continuing the fight for action on climate change. It is because of OFA’s strength of having 4.6 million action takers, an average contribution under $40 and more than 420,000 contributors that we are able to choose not to solicit new large donations now through November as we expect some of our supporters will also choose to shift their focus during the midterm season.”

If by ‘grassroots’ you mean organized from the top-down…and if by ‘individuals’ you mean they call you ‘an individual’…for now…then I see a lot of laws that interfere with individual liberty, overpromise money and benefits in poorly-designed systems that favor certain coalitions (unions, activists), and also a governance model that feeds on emotions and outrage often over facts and statistics, encouraging membership on political and ideological grounds.

Addition: Or as a friend points out, OFA is a more sanitized version of activism, made to adapt to a national audience, a breach into which the other radicals run.

A national leader with such commitments needs to use the budget to reward friends and fellow activists, and find the broadest policies possible that keep him in touch with his base (climate change, labor unions, immigration policy tapped into La Raza and Wall street backers), so if the gap can’t be breached, it’s the other party’s fault.

IS, The Middle-East & Some Political Philosophy-A Few Links

From The New Republic:

‘Other Muslims have romanticized the time of the early caliphs—but by occupying a large area and ruling it for more than a year, the Islamic State can claim to be their heirs more plausibly than any recent jihadist movement. It has created a blood-soaked paradise that groups like Al Qaeda contemplated only as a distant daydream.’

And IS is creating a very dangerous security threat, as they’re operationally and tactically smart, tend to learn from their mistakes in battle, and are quite aware of their message enough to recruit thousands of fighters from the West, possibly sending them back here.

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AlsoFrom Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’ Repost-Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

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Adam Garfinkle at The American Interest:

‘Muddled though the region is, the basics are fairly simple. Iranian influence through Assad and his thugs in Syria, through Hizballah in Lebanon, and through the hopefully retiring Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, has widened and radicalized sectarian conflict in the region, and the growing weakness of most of the Arab states in the face of this multi-year offensive has led to rogue groups like ISIS taking up the slack.’

And a grand bargain with the Iranian regime is presumably what Obama is still betting on, as well as withdrawing our influence from the region on the idea that we can no longer lead as we have in the past.

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Francis Fukuyama at the American Interest: ‘Political Order And Political Decay

Are you on board for a grand tour of the historical development of the Western State via Fukuyama’s intellectual conception of that State?:

‘There is one critical point of continuity between Huntington’s analysis and my own, however, which many recent development theorists seem to have forgotten. The bottom line of Political Order in Changing Societies could be summarized as follows: all good things do not go together.’

Fukuyama has a considerable investment over the years in a Hegelian Statism I’m not comfortable with.  One can find there a belief in the betterment of man towards some teleological end-point through the perfection of the State and those who work for their own self-interest in it.

What might Fukuyama have right about the development of the State in the rest of the world, and Western influence upon that development?

Related On This Site:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Francis Fukuyama has started a center for Public Administration at Stanford…it’d be interesting to imagine a conversation between Eric Hoffer and Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’…Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin?Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Things Are Heating Up In Ukraine

Lilia Shevtsova At The American Interest ‘Putin Ends The Interregnum:’

‘What a mess Putin has gotten us all into! But let’s also give him his due: He has paved the way for the emergence of new trends—or at least he’s called the existing ones into serious question. He has also facilitated the formation of Ukrainian national identity, ensuring that the country will never again become a mere extension of Russia. He has thus undermined his own dream—that of creating the Eurasian Union. He has precipitated a crisis in his own country, making its future path completely unpredictable. And finally, he has reminded NATO of its mission and prompted the liberal democracies to reflect on their own principles.’

It seems there’s a Russian ethno-nationalist core Putin’s playing to aside from the clear interest in Crimea and a corridor that means splitting Ukraine in two.  Just how Putin defines that core in order to play-up to Russian pride, nostalgia and national security via his own power via a cagey ex-KGB, authoritarian, petro-Czar ruling-style is up for debate.

Over at the New Republic, they’re going to have to work harder to figure out how to maintain humanist, Left-liberal ideals in the face of such meddling and aggression (they might have to think about rebuilding the Peretz wall separating a kind of liberalism from full-on Lefty activism that new ownership has since removed):

Putin Will Never, Ever Admit That Russia Has Invaded Ukraine

‘The Kremlin will continue to deny its involvement in Ukraine, and the U.S. and E.U. will take their time calling this an outright invasion. Russia has made its objectives in Ukraine clear, and has signalled its resolute unwillingness to participate in military negotiations while its political concerns go unresolved.’

It’s pretty clear the Georgia model is in play, to some extent.  Ukraine’s economy is weak, and its civil institutions very corrupt, but Putin’s aims are pretty clear.

An interesting interview with an American volunteer with Army experience and Ukrainian roots who’s joined the fight.  A surprisingly reasonable-sounding guy via VICE:

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Via a reader: George Kennan’s ‘Long Telegram’ back to Washington in 1946.

From Vlad’s pen to NY Times readers’ eyes.

Also On This Site: Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

Some Links On Foreign Policy & Ukraine…Kasparov, Kerry, Putin & Obama?-Some Links On Ukraine

James Baker At The NY Times: ‘3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin’

Nearly three years ago now: Eric Posner At The Volokh Conspiracy: The Bear Is Back!

Some Links From The Left-Liberal Side

You don’t need necessarily need a driver’s license in France, but your driving-school does need a state-mandated DVD player:

‘Francis Kramarz, an economist who has studied the French licensing system, says that barriers to getting a license are so high that about one million French people, who should have licenses, have never been able to get them. Although it is technically possible to reduce the cost by having parents teach students in a dual-control car, few expect to succeed this way, and so it is rarely done.
Mr. Kramarz said that it often costs 3,000 euros, or about $3,900, to get a license. But others said the average was closer to 1,500 to 2,000 euros.’

Let’s be like Europe!

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Surely, all the moral equivalence and moral rationalism that finds expression in comparing Israeli deaths and Palestinian deaths equally and ignoring much else is….purely rational.  Such calculations float free above the frenzied passions and direct needs of many coalitions of Left, Left-liberal and even anti-semitic sentiment looking for oppressed victim classes in the Palestinians and Hamas through a certain ideological lens.  Social justice is nigh.

Freddie deBoer, Lefty with some socialist leanings, explains his reasoning here.

Maverick Philosopher takes a look at some of Juan Cole’s statements:

‘What Cole has given us is a text-book example of ignoratio elenchi.  This is an informal fallacy of reasoning committed by a person who launches into the refutation of some thesis that is  other than the one being forwarded by the dialectical opponent. ‘

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So that Libyan intervention didn’t work out too well. Competing militias fight for control as does a very weak government.  The French had to go in to Mali to contain some of the spillover from Gadhafi’s overthrow, and now the UAE and Egypt are trying to have some influence.

From Via Media: ‘Egypt, UAE Join Libyan Afterparty:’

‘Since the beginning of the current crises in the Middle East, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have been attacking terror groups, standing beside Israel against Hamas, and confronting Iran. Unlovely though these allies may sometimes be, they are embracing a war on extremism that the U.S. has been pushing hard for a decade. Yet the Obama Administration has been giving them the cold shoulder, betting instead on ideas that look increasingly tenuous: a grand bargain with Iran, pressuring Israel to achieve peace with Hamas, and looking to mediations and the UN to repair Libya, even as it collapses into civil war.’

Don’t worry, this will all work-out.

Repost-‘Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

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Friedman doesn’t dispute that people have responsibilities to other people, but rather that the government is simply an inefficient means to meet those responsibilities (by interfering with the free market, which Friedman asserts has been the best way to lift the greatest number out of poverty).  Furthermore, he argues that the government causes and maintains poverty in the case of black teenagers by failing to provide a decent education so that they fail to learn basic skills in government-run schools, and through the minimum wage which distorts the market, preventing more opportunities for work.

On the other hand, one of the moral cornerstones of the progressive movement is that but for the Civil Rights Act among others, and building the Great Society (and but for a group of people acting on principles, and eventually making those principles into laws and institutions) black folks would have remained not only excluded from the job market, but from the legal rights granted to citizens and held in slavery and bondage by the laws.

Here is Thomas Sowell (heavily influcenced by the same Austrian School Of Economics) debating welfare and schools with the then State Of Pennsylvania Secretary Of Welfare:

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Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: It just occurred to me that Friedman’s view of liberty is one of voluntary cooperative action.  Anything more is an injustice to the individual and a serious threat to individual liberty (transferring too much power to the State through social programs like Social Security, Welfare etc and the injustice of taxation upon individuals and the dangers of the well-intentioned and do-gooders from the New Deal on).  The voluntary exchanges that occur between people pursuing their own self-interest in the marketplace has been the greatest driver of human freedom and the greatest liberator from the natural human conditions of poverty, privation and want.  Friedman merges Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Thomas Jefferson’s separation of powers:  Free To Choose 

Noam Chomsky also shares a view that the individual ought to be free to enter into voluntary cooperative action (community councils or faculties in universities), but believes that to be achieved by perhaps only anarchy (where he retreats) or anarcho syndicalism, or libertarian socialism.  I don’t find anarchy to be tenable in protecting individual liberty.  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge.

Leo Strauss may not have been a believer, but he did want the individual to be free from the structures that developed in Europe these past centuries.  The triumph of Reason (historicism and positivism which lead to relativism and nihilism) over some form of Revelation, or revealed truth. Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:  How do conservatism and libertarianism deal with Martin Luther King…?:  Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

Walter Russell Mead says the Great Society is over:  A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke into a strong, libertarian defense of the individual, and also responded to Rawls distributive justice: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Some Foreign Policy Links-Israel, Gaza, ISIS & ‘Peace’

Walter Russell Mead links to two good pieces: ‘White House Blindsided By Israeli/Egyptian Relationship

Mead:

‘It is clear from the above account that the White House has been consistently behind the eight ball on shifting patterns in the Middle East, and that U.S. diplomacy was seriously hampered by its failure to grasp the consequences of the burgeoning Egyptian-Israeli relationship’

It seems no one in the region, perhaps not even Hamas, wanted the Israel/Gaza peace-deal as brokered by John Kerry. The Israeli and Egyptian leadership have responded without our lead and in their own rational interests, a move which seems to have taken the current administration by surprise, as it has been busy simultaneously withdrawing U.S. influence from the region while still trying to pursue its aims.

Say you’re a committed isolationist, and you’re tired of the being the ‘world’s policeman,’ or at least believe U.S. interests may well be unsustainably overextended.

But now also think about what’s important to you (I’ll try to find one that’s near and dear): Your safety and security here at home, a sustainable economy and energy prices, free trade and human flourishing, less dictatorship and human suffering under autocrats and some recourse for human rights, human freedom, and international law and order of one kind or another.

When we withdraw, other interests fill the void. We may not like what we get.

On that note, not only is ISIS an ideological coalition of savage, ahistorical true-believing Islamists, blowing up ancient tombs (just like the Taliban did with slave labor those Buddha statues in Bamiyan), ISIS is also on a campaign, as I write this, to exterminate Iraqi Christians:

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They’ve also driven a group of Yazidis from their homes into the surrounding mountains to starve and die or return and be butchered:

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Perhaps the administration feels burned by the time it pursued humanitarian intervention in Libya, which has turned into a disaster, and thus has since withdrawn into a peace cocoon.  Perhaps it’s still trying to bridge the Iran gap, and keep that deal alive.  Of course, this relies on us doing business with the Ayatollah at the end of the day, a man whose power derives from the Islamic revolution in Iran.

On that note, Dan Drezner notes in the WaPo that in order to get to this point in our diplomacy, the administration has been concentrating foreign-policy decision-making in the White House. I suspect this is how you arrive at youthful, earnest hashtag activism (the kinds of people most willing to work with Obama on campaigns and follow his lead).

Drezner:

‘But I’ve written before that the foreign policy process matters significantly, and while it’s good for the White House to be interested in foreign policy, this does seem like an over-concentration of authority.’

Here we are.

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