I am almost trembling with glee now that the Washington Post has published a thousand-word chin-scratcher on how vital it is for the US to figure out some way to mediate a conclusion to the various conflicts, wars, secession movements, insurgencies, coups, plots, machinations, and various and sundry forms of civil strife currently fucking shit up in Yemen because they are damned inconveninent to our efforts to start a war there. So basically, the Terror War is being played out to the plot of The Phantom Menance.
Friday, January 08, 2010
Thursday, January 07, 2010
They made a campaign ad called "Billy" against lobbyist power and then they immediately invited "Billy" to practically move into the White House? What in the hell were they thinking?Dear Digby,
They were reading the last couple of years of your archives, and they were thinking, Sucker!
In the fall of 2001, as an anguished nation came to grips with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a slender, soft-spoken economics major named Elizabeth Hanson set out to write her senior thesis at Colby College in Maine. Her question was a timely one: How do the world’s three major faith traditions apply economic principles?I suspect this is the Times' error and not Ms. Hanson's, but it reveals something about the predominant American worldview, this presumption that "Judaism, Christianity, and Islam" are "the world's three major faith traditions." Judaism? There are more Sikhs! And what about the Hindus, yo? What about dem Boodists! What about traditional Chinese religious practices? What about Shintoism? What about African diasporic animism?
Ms. Hanson’s report, “Faithless Heathens: Scriptural Economics of Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” carried a title far more provocative than its contents, said the professor who advised her. But it may have given a hint of her career to come, as an officer for the Central Intelligence Agency specializing in hunting down Islamic extremists.
-Reported in the Times
I mean, May His Name Be Blessed and Magnified, I was raised a Jew and regard my kooky former faith with the same fondness I regard certain kooky relatives, but as a "faith tradition" it still lags Desperate Housewives, you know?
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
The task of isolating the data points that identify one dangerous individual among thousands is hard; there will be, under the best of conditions, an element of judgment involved, an ineradicable quantum of human frailty. Tragic mistakes will always be possible. And there will be little or no defense against a lunatic, unconnected with any group, who ignites kindling in his underpants.A bit florid, perhaps, but otherwise on the money. Odd, then, that it sits in the middle of an essay haranguing us about persistent, systemic failures in state security. If there is a lesson in the Christmas non-bombing, it is that you can't defend against every nut out there any more than you can prevent every highway smash-up or household accident. To live is to accept some modicum of risk. To live in an advaned, industrailized, technological, hegemonic, militaristic, imperial society in the twenty-first century is to accept with fair certainty that someone, somewhere, wants to blow you up, like, right now. This is, as they say, the cost of doing business, an inevitable outcome of the system in which we live, work, and pretend to thrive.
-Thomas Kean and John Farmer Jr.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
When last we encountered Roger "B. Kenneth Simon Chair in Constitutional Studies & Director, Center for Constitutional Studies" Pilon of the CATO institute, he was perserverating over the Congrefs' failure to exempt an entire industry from criminal and civil liability for all past and future law-breaking, because terrorism. The CATO Institute: one more reason to renounce libertarianism, i.e. the company you keep. Of course, CATO has long been home to a great gaggle of Beltway hacks with a few classically liberal iconoclasts hiding in the corners, and perhaps it's not quite fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip up, and yet Pilon is CATO's ranking man on Constitutional questions, though he does not appear to have ever encountered the Constitution.
Anyway, here is Pilon dampening his underoos over the President's failure to fight at the landside terminal, fight in the security lines, fight on the light-rail to airside, fight in the concourse, fight on the jetway, etc. etc. up unto Never Surrender! All this because some guy set his pants on fire! So, to summarize. The Totally Coherent Libertarian Position™ is that society should not only disassemble and destroy all its systems of public provision because FICA represents an unforgiveably grievous violation of individual liberty, but also dismantle the system of adversarial justice in its entirety because a presumed guilty party should not be allowed an attorney based on the miniscule possibility that some African is gonna make his panties go ka-boom. How does that reconcile? On the one hand, libertarianism advocates a free society in which there is necessarily economic inequality but considers it an unforgiveable sin to use tax revenue to give the inevitable lower orders some semblance of human comfort and safety; on the other hand, it advocates a society where the slightest risk of physical harm to air travelers is cause for the suspension of the Constitutional Order and the declaration of martial law. Yuh. Okay. That's really a robust and well-conceived philosophy of liberty you've got there.
It's unfair to tarnish all self-professed libertarians with Roger Pilon. Certainly there are plenty of nineteen-year-old gutter-punk "anarchists" with whom I would not wish to be associated, at least, uh, intellectually, although admittedly, assuming a preparatory bath, I do find something . . . tempting in the whippet-thin, gristly, and dredlocked. And yet . . . the embarrassingly rebellious adolescents who constitute the rump end of anarchy are just kids, whereas the most embarrassingly stupid, inconsistent, popmpous, and authoritarian clowns that libertarian thought has produced seem inevitably to end up running the think tanks. Well, institutions produce idiocy; it's a natural law. And yet, since to some degree libertarianism promotes itself as a strategy for governing a representative democracy, as, in other words, a viable (if as-yet unpopular) political philosophy for overseeing the institutions of the republic, doesn't it stand to reason that one consider the extant institutions of libertarianism, how they are peopled, and who is running the show?
Monday, January 04, 2010
As far as newspaper editorials go, this is pretty good, but there's a big stinker right in the middle:
President Obama, much to his credit, has forsworn the use of torture....Well, let us remember who else forswore torture, ne?
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Alors. As I'm reading a book review of how China "will not just displace the United States as the major superpower [but] will also marginalize the West in history and upend our core notions of what it means to be modern," a thesis, to be sure, that warms the commie cockles of my anarchic little heart, I come across the following:
China also manages its economy in its own fashion. Its public and private sectors blur together in ways that befuddle Americans accustomed to strict separation of government and business. Ferociously competitive entrepreneurs thrive alongside a “hyperactive and omnipresent” state that has never ceded its right to intervene.Yes. I am certainly befuddled by the blurring of the public and private sectors, accustomed as I am to a strict separation of government and business.
Indeed, given the storied, historical separation of business enterprises and government, it is almost impossible to comprehend a foreign and alien system in which the boundaries between public office and private profit are so porous. Oh brave new world.