Happy New Year’s Eve to you and yours.
Grafinkle offers a Middle-East roundup from country to country:
‘As long as our elite press censors itself in this manner, an objective socio-political description of these (and other) countries will remain impossible, and a distorted understanding will inevitably feed misbegotten policy adventures like the Libya war. I would like to be able to assure you that what ails the academy and the press does not afflict the clear-eyed professionals at the CIA and the State Department and USAID and the NSC and the officer corps of the uniformed military. Yes, I would like to… but a lot of these guys went to those same universities.’
Related On This Site: A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’…
Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient: “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”. It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire
Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill
Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’…Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’…Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others…
Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘How Many Healthy People Are Signing Up For Obamacare? The White House Won’t Say’
Healthcare.gov is working better now, but the full spin is still on. Of those new enrollees:
What we need to know is: What is the breakdown of enrollees by age? What percentage have chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure? This is the kind of data that can help us compare the pool of enrollees in the exchanges to the normal U.S. population.
It’s almost certain that, so far, this enrollment data is not encouraging. Because if it was encouraging, CMS would have released it.’
Politically and ideologically, money and career-wise. some folks will keep pushing until it sticks.
Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’…Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’
Oil and gas money can buy Qatar lots of art (and help it import cheap labor), but other tribal, autocratic ways haven’t changed much:
‘On the one hand, Qatar’s art initiatives can be seen as a modernizing force, one that could liberalize the tribal attitudes of the country’s native population and pave the way for further political reform. On the other hand, contemporary art may merely serve as a cover for further repressive policies.’
Related On This Site: James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’
MOMA is private, so perhaps it’s not as decadent if they display Tilda Swinton in a box:
…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”
Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment
Is rewarding Left-Of Center female victimhood along with questionable, extra-legal courts on campus really where we ought to have the federal government involved?:
‘The federal war on campus rape is unfolding amid a revival of what Katie Roiphe, in her landmark 1994 book The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campus, dubbed “rape-crisis feminism”-a loosely defined ideology that views sexual violence as the cornerstone of male oppression of women, expands the definition of rape to include a wide range of sexual acts involving no physical force or threat, and elevates the truth of women’s claims of sexual victimization to nearly untouchable status.’
It’s natural to expect many Left-liberal and progressive interest groups, failing to pass laws through majoritarian populist politics, to seek a kind of permanent influence under such Councils & Commissions.
Universities are an easy target.
Related Links: Christina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.
Defending Eliot Spitzer…as a man who ought to be free of prostitution laws…but didn’t he prosecute others with those same laws?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science
Full piece here (link may not last).
The sky is falling!
Lemann finishes with:
‘The internet might end up returning journalism to a faster, more technologically sophisticated version of what it was before the advent of the commercial newspaper business’
Perhaps it ‘s useful to think of journalists as citizens who volunteer at local elections: Private citizens serving a public function.
Someone’s got to open up the church or rec center, set up the machines, tally-up the votes and make it official. Someone may even have to keep an eye on the supporters outside angling for any last vote they can, and make sure election laws are followed. Such volunteers would be doing something both civic and necessary, a little thankless, even. Unlike journalists, they would only be doing it a few days out of the year.
Now, if they were to become professionals, like journalists, they would not be on the public dime, but perhaps words like ‘democracy,’ ‘common purpose’ and ‘public good’ would be heard often as they hit the streets, hounded, rolodexed, and muckraked their way about town. Newspaper ad revenue might be enough to pay their salaries and have say, one covering the courts and police reports, another local politics and press conferences, another obits and subscriptions etc. A columnist might be born.
This actual coverage, often local and community-based, is what is being lamented as lost in the age of internet aggregators and new technology. No one’s hitting the beat.
Amidst such change, many journalists are wondering how noble and necessary their profession is since very few people are willing to pay them for it.
Lemann waxes nostalgic:
‘To work in a traditional city newsroom is to witness every day what is still quite an impressive industrial process. Information flows in from an enormous variety of sources, gets sorted, sifted, processed and translated into a clear, accessible form, moves onto gigantic machines for an instantaneous mass production process, and then gets physically distributed to hundreds of thousands of locations’
Technology won’t replace human experience and judgment, but if an app can do much of the above more easily and cheaply, why not let it?
At the very least, shouldn’t a professional journalistic class be expected to adjust to this new technology and provide value to readers day-in and day-out?
Privately or publicly funded, who among us can possibly hope to speak for all of the public?
Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon
Related On This Site: From io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’
You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.
The City Council takes the smoking ban (get Big Tobacco!) a step further:
‘But the real problem with e-cigarettes, according to Farley and other supporters of the ban, is that they look too much like the real thing. “E-cigarettes threaten, in my opinion, to undermine enforcement of the Smoke-Free Air Act,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said last week. “Because many of the e-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes and be used just like them, they can lead to confusion or confrontation.”
If you see something, say something. Is that a candy cigarette? An asthma-inhaler?
The City Council has added a new law in order to make compliance with previous laws easier. Come on, New Yorkers.
***Please keep in mind this has nothing to do with the latest Left-Of-Center activism either, like GMOs, fracking, the Keystone Pipeline, higher minimum-wage protests etc. There are absolutely no politics involved here. This is just for ‘the Public Health,’ even if e-cigarettes give many people a chance to lead healthier lives. The People’s Elected Officials are representing the General Will. I have been assured they are in possession of the latest (S)cience.
NYC’s immediate future probably involves a lot more of this: Laws on top of laws, higher-taxes trickling-down, burdensome regulations for businesses, and slowed-down processes where convenient for De Blasio’s coalitions. Every citizen shall have a voice, after all.
A video on how e-cigarettes work:
And now for something related:
So, is Left-liberalism on the rise? Perhaps. There are many streams in which folks can drift along into a kind of communitarianism and collectivism amenable to such idealism regarding politics. Many Americans may have been much more sympathetic to being left alone a generation or two ago.
The below quotation comes from a debate about art and political philosophy. It focuses on a question: Should there be public arts funding, and if so, how much of your money, if any, should go towards it?
David Byrne, former frontman of the Talking Heads and art-house/pop-musician/environmentalist is discussed (there was a Byrne interview featured in the NY Times):
‘I refrain from calling Byrne a socialist, but what goes unsaid here is that our objections are to a prior assumption by believers in state power, namely that because some undertaking is worth doing, that the state ought to be doing it. If Byrne is addressing society in the above quote (and I think he is to some degree, although largely by not making Bastiat’s distinction), he is doing so as if it were an aggregate, even an abstraction. This may be the essence of the statist mind: that an abstracted aggregate of other people ought to be devoting their energies to the effort I deem noble. It’s from there that the demands flow. The collectivist is not asking you to give up expenditures on your hobby to support his (even if his has been fashioned into a career), he’s asking the abstract aggregate to change its trajectory or support the arts or something nebulous and lofty like that. Cargo Culture springs into being when such demands are met.’
The days of wearing a smoking jacket and holding a cigar without being seen as provocative, anachronistic, or signaling irony are probably gone for the time being:
Related On This Site: Sunstein’s got to create some space between the Bloomberg backlash and the further Left: Daddy’s Gonna Make You Do It…Behavioral economics-Repost-Cass Sunstein At The New Republic: ‘Why Paternalism Is Your Friend’
Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’…Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’...The Irish were a mess: William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’
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’
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Thanks for stopping by, and to everyone that has.
‘Many Americans think that President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw most if not all U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year will end the U.S. role in that country’s travails. To the extent they think about Afghanistan at all, most Americans seem to assume that when the last combat soldier has departed from what has been the longest war in American history, the United States (and its International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] allies) can close the book on Afghanistan with a mixed record of accomplishment.’
Have we met our objective?
From accounts I’ve heard, what doesn’t often reach the American public is how fierce the fighting in Afghanistan can be, how much we’ve asked of our troops in fulfilling such a broad mission, and how we still haven’t reached our objective, which is to prevent further attacks on our soil.
Corruption runs rampant, illiteracy remains high, and decades of war have ruined the infrastructure. Under such conditions, and with so many different ethnic and linguistic groups, it’s tough to provide basic security and incentivize the good in people, allowing interested local village elders, farmers and decent folks have a shot at stability. Afghanistan was most recently headed by a thuggish gang of religious purists, warlords and opium-traffickers, and may well soon be again.
Many of these guys, whose ancestors likely fought against the British, and a few elders who fought against the Soviets, are now aiding or abetting the enemy, and/or are fighting our troops. It’s their backyard, after all, but it’d be much better not to have these local and tribal grievances become the fuel for an international fire, and the opening for the Taliban to fill back in. If so, this opens the door to the global ambitions of Islamist franchises like Al Qaeda once again.
Which means we could be right back where we started.
Interestingly, the concerns of Western secular humanists and global peace-workers actually line-up pretty well with traditional, conservative, pro-military supporters: We’ve got to keep thinking about solutions and a larger strategy when it comes to this region.
It’s not really over, even though this is the longest war we’ve ever had:
Vice had some coverage:
From Walter Russell Mead: ‘Hastily Leaving Afghanistan Won’t Encourage Taliban To Make Concessions:’
‘And there are still lots of countries in the region that don’t want Afghanistan to fall under Taliban rule again: Iran, Russia, China, and India all think this would be a terrible outcome. We shouldn’t assume that Mullah Omar is going to get everything he wants’
Sarah Chayes’ Essay From 03/01/2007: ‘Days Of Lies & Roses‘
Canadian documentarian Louie Palu covered the Kandahar region of southwest Afghanistan, where much of the fiercest fighting has occurred, and where the British, Soviets and coalition forces have fought.
Related On This Site: From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan…Stephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’
Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’…Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”…Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger…Tom Ricks Via Foreign Policy: ‘American General Dies In Afghanistan; An American Lt. Col. Goes Off The Reservation
Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering,breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?