Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)


From the onset, Manhattan was a place for trade and commerce.  It has an exceptional natural harbor. It was an outpost for the Dutch to invest and turn a profit and it’s continued from there (after many years of British rule and even British control during the Revolutionary War).  It didn’t become our nation’s political capital as Jefferson made sure of contra Hamilton, though it has had distinct artistic and cultural influence.

As the series points out, what drew and draws so many disparate groups and pits them against each other is economic opportunity.  What unites them is not diversity (that’s a by-product), but self-interest and a chance for a better life by getting a job, making it big, getting away from somewhere else,being the first or the best in your field (finance, trade, insurance, fashion).  I suspect both religion and secular religion (the current rise of the equality of outcome crowd, nanny-staters) have always had and hopefully always will have a hard time bending New York’s commercial bustle to their moral visions.

Related On This Site: The market will make people better off, but always leaves them wanting more and in spiritual malaise, which invites constant meddling.  Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

Both agree God has something to do with it…Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

The Irish were a mess:  William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

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

Politicians and politics likely won’t deliver you from human nature, nor fulfill your dreams in the way you want: anarchy probably won’t either: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

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From The AP: ‘Suicide Bomber Kills 13 Americans In Afghanistan’

Full post here.

‘The Taliban said the bomber, Abdul Rahman, was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser SUV containing 1,540 pounds (700 kilograms) of explosives and targeting foreigners providing training for Afghan police. The Taliban, who frequently exaggerate casualty claims, said that 25 people were killed by the blast.’

Related On This Site:  From Foreign Affairs: ‘Q & A With Stephen Biddle On Afghanistan’

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’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger

Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

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Friday Quotation: Karl Popper

Here’s a quote from Popper:

“…and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important that equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”

and here’s a previous quote from a thinker on Gerald Gaus’ new book:

Jerry has argued throughout the book that the conception of the person employed within public reason liberalism and liberalism broadly speaking must move in this Hayekian direction. If public reason liberals follow Jerry’s lead, the fundamental structure of public reason and even the nature of the social contract theorists’ project must substantially change. In short, political justification must not begin with deriving the rationality of rule-following from a teleological conception of practical reason. Instead, it must begin with an understanding of the nature of human beings who are already rule-followers and the nature of the moral emotions and cooperative activities that accompany such rule-following. It is in this way that Jerry moves most forcefully away from Hobbesian conceptions of public reason. He goes further by arguing that even the Kantian conception of the person he endorses cannot be constructed out of practical reason alone. Instead, human nature contains Kantian elements for thoroughly Humean-Hayekian-evolution reasons. Our rule-following nature is contingent on our social development (though no less contingent than our goal-seeking nature).’

In watching the Occupy protests, it’s clear that there are real anarchists, socialists, communists, Marxist materialists etc. out there, waiting for the opportunity to implement ideas that have failed so miserably in practice.  These folks are hopelessly unable to reconcile individual freedom with those ideas but will likely never stop trying.  It seems like the Tea Party/OWS equivalence argument is something of a litmus test for some liberals and those who hear the call of egalitarianism.  Many are willing to tolerate these elements and other unpleasantness at the protests because they likely share in a common definition of liberty.  That definition and its moral obligations can lead one to become a distributionist/redistributionist and usually puts equality of outcome and “fairness” above many other goals that people often work toward, even in redistributionist and liberal societies/administrations.  My greatest fear is the threat it can pose to legitimate rule and authority.

But is Occupy something more?  Are mainstream liberals right to try and co-opt it for their immediate purposes?

Perhaps there are liberals and democrats more comfortable with property rights, less regulated markets, more economic opportunity who are a little dismayed at where the party, and Nation, is at the moment.

Addition:  Peter Schiff is out at OWS agreeing that it’s a populist movement and with the Occupy sentiment, and that more capitalism is the answer, not crony capitalism, re-distributionsim, high taxes, the blue social model that have grown so much in the last half-century.

Another Addition:  From Martha Nussbaum to Gerry Gaus, liberalism is aiming away from deriving the laws of man from religious doctrine, and from the moral doctrines of Natural Law and Natural Right.

Related On This Site: Also, one of the primary goals is derive morality not from a transcendent God, nor the church, but in the new cogs-ciences and in the emotions.  I am concerned about how this translates into political and social organization and away from Hobbes a la Strauss:  Does evo psy have aspirations in creating a sort of secular morality…or non-religious moral and philosophical structure?:  Steven Pinker From The New Republic: The Stupidity Of Dignity…A theory of moral sentiments  Another Note On Jesse Prinz’s“Constructive Sentimentalism”

A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’

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



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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Rhode Island: Athens of America?’

Full post here.

Well, maybe not Athens, but not doing well and unwilling to face fiscal reality. Mead’s theory is that the end of the blue social model is nigh.

‘As the American political system attempts to grapple with the growing pension, debt and entitlement crisis, three types of responses seem to be emerging.  There is the true blue ostrich approach of the unions themselves and their closest allies: denial and rage.  There is the attitude of more centrist Democrats like Governor Cuomo and Mayor Emanuel: make prudent cuts, hold the line on spending, work to quietly make government more efficient without jumping into a full scale confrontation with the unions.  And there is the Scott Walker, dragonslayer approach: take them on.’

Providence was always a bit corrupt if I recall.

Related On This SiteRepost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

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Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’

Full post here.

Henri-Levy has been on the ground working with the Libyans for some time, during a relatively dangerous time.  Agree with him or not, he’s placed himself at risk and helped others to understand some of what could be at stake for themselves and the West in Libya (The New York Observer has a review of his recent book “Left In Dark Times: A Stand Against The New Barbarism”).   He frames the murder and parading of Gadhafi’s corpse thusly:

‘Either this collective crime will be, like the beheading of the last king of France in Albert Camus’s account, the founding act of the coming era, which would be a terrible sign. Or it will be the swan song of a barbarous age, the end of the Libyan night, the death rattle of Gaddafi’s system, which, before expiring, must turn against its founder and inject him with his own venom, making way for a new era that will fulfill the promises of the Arab Spring.’

As I write, the latter is my ardent wish. More than that, it is my conviction’

There is a bit of the romantic, war-correspondent at work here, and a more sober eye could be cast upon American interests (and how far can we really trust a Frenchman with those?).  If we look at it with a Burkean lens, that tradition is still carrying the flame of a more radical, Rousseauian, highly individualized, post-Enlightenment liberty and its dangers.  Henri-Levy is part of a tradition that defines liberty much more broadly than many Americans are comfortable with and which poses great risk to the efficacy of our institutions and our freedoms.  He has stood up against anti-semitism and anti-Americanism and other dangerous strains of the French and European Left, but…still.

We may come to reap the benefits of closer cooperation with Britain and France in protecting their interests, and helping them in their backyard, spreading some of the anti-Western sentiment and reasonable suspicion around that America has brought upon itself after Iraq and post 09/11.  We also may bind ourselves to decisions and decision-making that improperly define our responsibilities that can lead to greater conflict in seen and unforeseen ways.  It is a confusing time.

I’m skeptical it hasn’t been a mistake to put these ideas at the center of American foreign policy, just as I think it would be a mistake to exclude them entirely and exclude what many people may have learned on the ground in times of crisis as either intellectuals, war-correspondents, observers, aid-workers and other defenders and definers of liberty, especially in the Arab world right now.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: One of the major policy goals of the current administration seems to be siding with it sees as the interests of the people of the Middle-East, not necessarily the autocrats and dictators, and this Wilsonian direction as the path toward moral legitimacy.

Another addition: Just how far Left is this administration anyways?

Related On This Site: Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others……Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’

For anyone, but especially Leftists and recovering Leftists, it takes moral courage to stand up to the messianism, Islamic moral absolutism, and dark theocratic tendencies of the Middle East…liberty is key as well as moral responsibility to think in terms of the legitimacy of rule here at home: …From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

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From Scientific Blogging: ‘Einstein On Steroids: Dirac, The Higgs, And Speeding Neutrinos’

Full post here.

‘There is a deeper level that tells us that physical reality is all about causations. Causations that propagate at only one speed. The speed we refer to as the speed of light, denoted by the magical symbol “c”. Nothing goes faster, and nothing goes any slower.’

Related On This Site:  Is that really just a jigsaw puzzle?-Hilary Putnam On The Philosophy Of Science:  Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On YouTube

Repost-From Scientific Blogging: The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is NotA Short Post On Red Sprites And Blue Jets: Cosmic Origins Of Lightning?

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