Thomas Sowell Reviewed At The American Spectator Via The A & L Daily: “Can’t Live With Them”

Full review here. (Sowell’s new book Intellectuals And Society)

A reasonable review, though not entirely sympathetic.  Our reviewer concludes with:

“I’d say that means not that we have less need of intellectuals, but more need of better ones.”

I would add the following quote by Albert Jay Nock:

‘It is a primary instinct of human nature to satisfy one’s needs and desires with the least possible exertion; everyone tends by instinctive preference to use the political means rather than the economic means, if he can do so.

If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts.

Also On This Site:  From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

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Repost-Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In Decline?

Not so much America in decline, Zakaria suggests, as an America closing itself off from what made it great and failing to recognize the rise of many other nations.  America may no longer have the ability to “be the director,” as he says.  The close of an era of American exceptionalism?

As a globalist, there may be parts of his thinking and moral depth that don’t coincide with the interests of some parts of our society (perhaps the more militaristic, conservative and Christian conservative, insular and isolationist especially).  I’m not persuaded by all of his ideas, but he’s pretty on point with this.   He’s also a pragmatic, wide-ranging and independent voice and it’s good to have him around.

Related On This Site:  Francis Fukuyama At The Washington Post: They Can Only Go So FarSo, Is America In Decline?Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

From Bloggingheads: ‘Spencer Ackerman And Eli Lake On Counterinsurgency’

Discussion here. (3:25 min long)

Both men point out that despite the focus on other parts of the mission, Afghanistan is a war, and counterinsurgency is violent, bloody, and necessarily so.

Also On This Site:  Bending now to Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.…It’s not just schools and tea:  Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Greg Mortenson On Charlie Rose: Afghanistan And PakistanFrom Foreign Affairs: ‘A Substitute For Victory: Adopting A New Counterinsurgency Strategy In Afghanistan’

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From Volokh: ‘Pastors Getting Political’

Full post here.

“Via Paul Caron comes this story from USA Today about “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an effort by 100 preachers around the country to challenge IRS rules that threaten churches with the loss of nonprofit status if they endorse candidates.”

Comments are worth a read.

Also On This Site:  Comments on Liberal and Conservative Mistakes

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Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

Full post here.  (link may not last)

Perhaps Hawking is guilty of a little hubris in weighing in with such certitude on the God question?

Here’s a quote of his Hawking’s posted previously:

“His [Kant’s}argument for the thesis was that if the universe did not have a beginning, there would be an infinite period of time before any event, which he considered absurd.  The argument for the antithesis was that if the universe had a beginning, there would be an infinite period of time before it, so why should the universe begin at any one particular time?  In fact, his cases for both the thesis and the antithesis are really the same argument.  They are both based on his unspoken assumption that time continues back forever, whether or not the universe had existed forever.

-Stephen Hawking-A Brief History of Time

Not so much that time continues back forever, but that it’s impossible to conceive of a point outside of time.  Kant wished to argue that both time and space are not necessarily inherent characteristics of the universe (or any object at all…especially those objects with which we have no direct experience, like a black hole, though according to Kant we can have knowledge of objects) but rather time and space are part of our onboard apparatus, and preconditions for us have intelligible experience in the first place (unlike as is assumed in calculus, for example).  He constructed a vast metaphysics to make his point in the hopes of putting metaphysics on the same ground as the sciences (the Enlightenment was going strong around him, and he latched onto Newton’s laws especially).  It’s questionable as to whether or not he succeeded, but fascinating to think about nonetheless.

Also On This Site:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To JudgmentFrom YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Via The University Of British Colombia: Kant-Summary Of Essential PointsFrom Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantSunday Quotation: From Jonathan Bennett On Kant

From The Times Higher Education: Simon Blackburn On The The Atheist/Believer DebateFrom Bloggingheads: Adam Frank And Eliezer Yudkowsky Discuss The Epistemology

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From Megan McArdle: ‘The High Cost Of College’

Full post here.

An education bubble?  The spirit of egalitarianism at its best and worst?

Comments are worth a read.

Addition:  McArdle discusses the issue with Daniel Drezner on Bloggingheads

Also On The Site:  Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’

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Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

Hitchens is both a serious anti-theist (a formerish socialist, “God Is Not Great“) as he charts a course out of his older Socialist ways, as well as challenging the mainstream American Left and further Left (supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m guessing as much as a result of residual anti-reliious, anti-‘fascist’ passion…socialists are always looking for fascists, funny that, and Islamism is a toxic brew of religious doctrine and oft Western ideology).

Here in America, we have freedom of speech.  Some people will believe and say unwise, foolish and dangerous things as a result.  Some, for example, will merely taunt religious and political leaders without substantive criticism, while others will use humor and reasoned discourse to level pointed and profound criticism against them (and anyone, who in their profession of ideas, would seek to implement those ideas).   This freedom of speech (including the mockery and steady stream of anti-Christian imagery that has resulted) is a vital component of our political freedom.

In the above video, Younis is claiming that we put a limit to that freedom in order to achieve dialogue and “strategic discourse” with the Muslim world (I assume like Obama might believe this to help address the reasons our militiary has deployed in two questionable wars to root out a small but violent group of people, who, in the name of Islam, killed 3,000 Americans on American soil).  As the argument goes:  Our quarrel is not with Islam, but a small group of people acting in the name of Islam, who would represent a dead-end interpretation of their own religion and historical events.  Al-Qaeda would like nothing more than a religious war, for that would validate their own ideology.  We should tread lightly, and more intelligently and respectfully. As regards freedom of speech, citizens of Western countries who would act mockingly, disparagingly, or critically of the religious beliefs of Muslims must be held to a higher standard to prevent the kinds of conflict already taking place on this view.

Yet, as Hitchens points out, the elephant in the room is the fact that some Muslims and Muslim leaders actually kill, or threaten to kill, anyone who engages in such activity.

What are the limits of freedom of speech?  Do you have an obligation to protect our troops?  to stand up for cartoonists threatened with death?  to recognize the loss of Iraqi life (addition: morally…diplomatically…in order to make better policy)?

Addition:  An emailer suggests it is only on the back of extreme multiculturalism and diversity and on the European Left and the far American Left that such ideas get any traction.  Muslims are a small minority in the U.S., and they have to earn, over generations of following the laws and demographic representation, a seat in our legislatures and in the public mind.  As for now, the U.S. is pursuing its security interests through military force and diplomacy to protect itself against Al-Qaeda in the Muslim world…this is the problem to be either solved or gotten through and has political, diplomatic, military as well as cultural dimensions.   Education…stronger economies…and more representative governments are developments the West would like to see, but as for my part I believe belongs to the will of Muslims.

Another Addition:  A signed defense of free speech by American and Canadian Muslims

Also On This Site:  Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

Many libertarians stand firm on freedom of speech:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra LevantFrom Reason: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During LectureFrom The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale SurrendersYale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.

Hirsi Ali has her own agenda, and will use the political right in Europe to frame the debate (and she’s on a personal mission against Islam), but notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily BeastRepost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

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Some Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’

From Natural Right & History. Chicago:  The University Of Chicago Press, 1965, pg 303-304.

Strauss seems to have had Burke succumbing to historicism? A response here.

As to the American and French Revolutions:

“In both cases the political leaders whom Burke opposed insisted on certain rights: the English government on the rights of soverignty and the French revolutionists insisted on the rights of man.  In both cases Burke proceeded in exactly the same manner:  he questions less the rights than the wisdom of exercising the rights.”

“What ever might have to be said about the propriety of Burke’s usage, it is here sufficient to note that, in judging the political leaders whom he opposed in the two most important actions of his life, he traced their lack of prudence less to passion than to the intrusion of the spirit of theory into the field of politics.”

Addition:  As a friend points out:  Strauss is trying to get around the 2nd Nietzschean crisis of modernity, and the cinching and tightening of moral, political, and philosophical thinking into only an Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment pursuit of truth under Reason alone.  The Natural Right and Natural Law Philosophies, including and a pursuit of the truth which can involve religion (Augustine?), or Greek conceptions of the good and the true as applied to the city-state vastly broaden and prevent the inherent nihilism in these waves of modernity as Strauss saw them…historicism being one of these Enlightenment pursuits, from political science to the social sciences to Hegelian and post-Hegelian historicism…the logic is followed to its inherently nihilistic ends.  This poses a threat to individual liberty among other things…

A fair synopsis? Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Also On This Site: Karl Popper, Milton Friedman, Austrian Economics and maybe Thomas Sowell: From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’…do his critics really understand Strauss…does Strauss understand their conception of what America ought to be?: Some Criticism Of Leo Strauss Via Andrew Sullivan: ‘Who Let The Dogs Out, Ctd.”

I’m not sure I’ve understand him properly:  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’Via An Emailer: Some Criticism Of Leo Strauss? From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:  From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?

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From The Money Illusion: ‘A Post-Ideological Index Of Good Governance’

Full post here.

“Because I am a right-wing liberal who thinks incentives matter more than progressives believe they do, I’d vote for the Singapore/HK low tax model, not the Danish/Swedish high tax model.  I was glad to see Hong Kong scored number one in the world in the infrastructure category.  So much for Galbraith’s “private wealth, public squalor.”  But unlike many right-wingers, I believe the Nordic approach is also pretty successful.”

Passed along by a friend. I suspect part of the reason the Nordic approach works is because of much greater cultural homogeneity, which is very difficult in a country of 300 million people and “diversity” as one of the driving goals (with all of its logical flaws) for the past few decades.

Comments are worth a read.

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Steven Walt At Foreign Policy: ‘Defending The Afghan Study Group Report”

Full piece here.

“The Afghanistan Study Group report that I wrote about last week is getting some predictable flak from people who hold different views about U.S. strategy there.”

and his conclusion:

“The bottom line is that these various critiques have not damaged the report’s central conclusion: The war in Afghanistan has become a fool’s errand that is neither essential to U.S. national security nor likely to produce a satisfactory outcome.

What are our moral obligations to the Afghan people…to Pakistan…who often simply plays both ends and whose state has a close and complicated relationship to terror groups…and ultimately any President’s obligation to the American people and our security?

Will The FATA region simply become a stronghold for global terrorism again, after any U.S. withdrawal?

Also On This Site:  From Michael Yon: ‘General Petraeus Letter’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Greg Mortenson On Charlie Rose: Afghanistan And PakistanFrom Bloomberg: More Troops To Afghanistan? A Memo From Henry Kissinger To Gerald Ford?

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