Saturday, September 14, 2002

I have been mulling on Bruce Bawer's article in the Partisan Review about fundamentalist Muslims in Europe. There is much in there that I find extremely worrying. Bawer is particularly concerned about what he describes as violent hostility to gays, including death threats, and to say the least exceedingly unpleasant attitudes to women, including honor killings. He also has much to say about the way Europe's liberal establishment is trying to deal with all this. What he does not say much about is why the liberal establishment is so aggressively covering up for very illiberal views and practices.
I suppose Bawer wrote his article as a wake-up call, but for whom? Is he trying to tell the multiculturalists they are walking off a plank, or trying to tell the rest of us that the multis are trying to push us off a plank? It seems to me that the multiculturalists have given up on liberalism. Orwell described the European left this way back during World War II, but he did not have much in the way of diagnosis.

Brad DeLong came through with mindless praise for Krugman. This is a follow up to praise for Clinton suck-up Jeffrey Frankel. Frankel's article was an exercise in "why are these people so stupid that they can't agree with me". I'll bet DeLong can't figure out why "professor" has become a term of ridicule and contempt. Instapundit seems to like DeLong's blog. I cannot see why.

Friday, September 13, 2002

The older I get, the less I think about philosophy. It is too hard for me. What kind of approach to the law comes up with this? In a strange Scottish case, a woman was awarded damages after her car was struck by another car whose driver was having an epilectic fit. Of the £3500 in damages, £1000 was for the trauma she endured from seeing his contorted face and thinking he was dying.
Sometimes we get comedy from politics that isn't depressing. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe put together ten unusual questions for the seven candidates for governor of Massachusetts. The answers were on the whole evasive and dull. There was, however, one good answer. To the question, Name one position you take that is politically risky and clearly out of step with most of your party, Jill Stein of the Green Party, replied, "The Green Party is tolerant of independent thinking, and it's sometimes hard to tell if you're out of step or just part of a good discussion."
I just got my copy of Richard Posner's book, Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline. It is my next read, because I badly want some insight into why academics go so weird and, at best, sloppy, when they go public. I do not think here merely of Krugman. Mark Kleiman, a drug expert at UCLA, took to his blogspot to, among other things, take a shot at Ronald Reagan for not having served in the army. This issue was thrashed over repeatedly during the 1980s, and Kleiman is old enough, and was actively involved in political issues, to know better than to make this sort of comment. I'll give him credit for withdrawing it, but to say a reader alerted him to it is pathetic. A partisan throws accusations and doesn't bother with the explanation. A scholar is supposed to look for the explanation.
In his New York Times column, Paul Krugman interrupted his usual foot stamping temper tantrums about George Bush to say a little something about economics, and about time, I thought. Silly me. Instead we get this.

But one must admit that there are times when war has had positive economic effects. In particular, there's no question that World War II pulled the United States out of the Great Depression.

There is no question? From 1933 to 1941, real annual GDP rose at an average annual rate of 8.5%. During the boom years of the 1980s and 1990s, the highest growth in real GDP was 7.3% (from 1983 to 1984). (The real GDP figures can be found here.) Economic growth is not my specialty, but Krugman at least used to be a very bright economist. Maybe the war mattered, but he damned well ought to explain where that 8.5% annual growth rate came from before the US was in a war.

UPDATE: I'll wait to see if Brad DeLong takes on Krugman over this.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

James Bowman has an interesting piece on cultural corruption. He uses Bruce Springsteen as his example of the adolescent cult of authenticity in popular culture. Pay attention to me not because I something worth saying, but because I really, really believe what I am saying. I have grumbled before in this blog (and will do so again, repeatedly) about the adolescence of European intellectuals. Bowman thinks the problem is much more extensive, and I am sadly inclined to agree.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

I read the Irish Examiner (one of the three Irish broadsheets) to find stupid things to use in my teaching. They rarely fail me. Today's edition is a hate-Amerika screed (the usual stuff about America being run by the Jewish lobby, . . .), but there was a wonderful bit of comedy in it. The reliably inane Ronan Mullen has a dull piece objecting to US Middle East policy, (registration is required, and trust me, it is not worth the bother) with this wonderful line.
The anti-Americanism of so many European sophisticates will come as no surprise to US ex-pats here. But they must be shocked to come under fire from the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, even before the first anniversary of September 11 has passed.

No doubt he will announce tomorrow that Americans will be shocked, shocked, to learn that Osama bin Laden hates them. European sophisticates aren't just anti-American, they are sometimes stupid beyond belief.
The Jerusalem Post has a set of articles written to commerate September 11. They make for fascinating reading. Particularly interesting is the article by Shlomo Ben-Ami, Ehud Barak's foreign minister. It isn't that the article is any good, it is just that it is a good indication of how incapable the Israeli left is of learning just about anything. Barak's government failed because the (fortunately shrinking) Israeli left are so damned slow to learn. Flying body parts lie about them and, after trying appeasement, they think still more appeasement.
See OxBlog this morning. Do not fail to do so. Thank you, Josh Chafetz.
What to make of the degeneration of Nelson Mandella? His interview with Newsweek, in which he remarks that the US is treating Israel better than Iraq because Israel is white and Iraq is black, has already been widely noted. Since Israel has large number of Ethiopian Jews, and Iraqis aren't very dark skinned (certainly no more than the typical Israeli), the statement contains a literal falsehood. Is Mandela accepting Jean Raspail's argument in The Camp of the Saints that whiteness is a metaphor for civilization? If so, then Mandela is accepting blackness as a metaphor for uncivilized? Does Mandela think that Mugabe is the best that Africa can do, and so he must celebrate this? I was pleased when Mandela got the Peace Prize. I thought maybe for once the turkeys on the prize committee had got it right. I will not repeat that mistake.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

George Will is as good as ever today, a day when he needed to be, with "The Great Refutation." My favorite part:

The postmodern plague of quotation marks -- the punctuation of disparagement that labels as superstitions "virtue" and "heroism" and most of the other things that make life worth living -- was erased by men running into burning buildings, men who had not been disabled by today's higher learning. The quotation marks remaining after the Great Refutation surround two words: "Let's roll!"

The cultural relativism that gives rise to the fetish of multiculturalism -- "It is mere ethnocentric arrogance to say one culture is superior to any other" -- was incinerated by burning jet fuel.

Living in Europe, watching the pathetic adolescence of the intellectuals, these lines resonate. I recall, during the Kosovo bloodletting, the Irish Examiner interrupted its usual flow of anti-American bigotry to demand that the British and Americans do something about it. Now they are back to bitching about the crushing of dissent in America. This is the sort of thing you learn to deal with in adolescents (Dad, I'm grown up and independent. I don't have to take instructions from you. By the way, I need $50 for my date tonight.) In supposed adults, it is, as with all adolescent behavior in adults, sad and pathetic. Watching European intellectuals is kind of like watching 50 year old men walk around in bars with unbuttoned shirts, trying to pick up under-aged girls.

Ruairi Quinn, the outgoing head of the Irish Labour Party (think the Tony Benn wing of Britain's Labour Party), has fessed up and admitted that Mary Robinson's campaign for Irish president got financial support from Maoists. He tells us they were less active, but still committed to the same values. Forget about the millions slaughtered in China. The murders by Maoists in Peru. Just pick today's latest bloodbath, where 58 people were murdered in Nepal by these monsters. What is it about left-wing and their attraction to every butcher on earth, from Lenin to Stalin to Hitler (yeah, guys, Orwell got you for it) to Mao to Pol Pot to Mugabe?
Bernard Lewis is in the Washington Post today, with a piece titled "Targeted by a History of Hatred: The United States is now the unquestioned leader of the free world, also known as the infidels". As good as a summary of an article as I have seen.
My favorite bit from the latest New Republic isn't Leon Wieseltier, who would be funnier to read if he were not so breath-takingly boring. It is their piece on the North Carolina senate race (the primary is today). Remaining silent on Bowles' financial scandals, this piece is one long whinge that Erskine Bowles (an old Clinton flack) is somehow sooo much more substantive than Elizabeth Dole. Now, in the realm of intellectual seriousness, Dole is pretty low. She is mostly a skilled political operative who believes in, well, most Elizabeth Dole. As a replacement for Jesse Helms, she is sad. But Erskine Bowles? Who do the kids at the New Republic think they are kidding? Not only is the story quiet on Bowles' financial scandals, it is silent on Bowles' role in providing Webster Hubbell. Erskine "the fixer" Bowles is supposed to be some sort of intellectually serious, profound thinker. There is even the obligatory line about Al Gore having suffered from covering up his brains and sophistication to appeal to lumpen voters who just weren't as bright as the kiddies at TNR. Are these kids incapable of embarrassment?
The latest New Republic is online. It reminds me of a line from a book review by Dorothy Parker. I don't have my Portable Dorothy Parker handy, but it has her caustic review of Money Writes! by Upton Sinclair. She remarked that although she was with all her heart and soul commited to the socialist cause, she had to confess that many socialists become confirmed belly-achers. Sadly, with the New Republic. Unlike, say, the Nation or the Independent, many of their writers are bright and serious people. Their last issue, about the year since September 11, is mostly a long nothing-has-turned-out-the-way-it-should-have-and-would-have-if-only-Al-Gore-had-been-president. This side of the Atlantic, they have a nice word for that, a whinger, someone always pointlessly complaining.
Theodore Dalrymple has a frightening column in today's Telegraph, titled Lock them up first: How liberalism begets fascism. He argues that modern liberalism is a pious exchange of more-lenient-than-thou. Thus do we get disorder, breeding panic, witness the French criminalizing classroom misconduct.

The telling quote:

Only a society that is nearly at the end of its tether, and is so morally corrupted that it is terrified of its own children, could contemplate, let alone enact, such desperate measures. Thus the end product of laxity will not be Sodom and Gomorrah: it will be Sparta.

A really cute baby picture taken from the Hamas website. Again, I wait for the multiculturalists to figure this one out. Do they hate guns or Jews more?
Hideous news. There is a university examination meeting I am obliged to attend on September 11. I herewith promise that I will not punch out any loud mouth campus Nazis before I head home.

Monday, September 09, 2002

George Bush is giving a speech to the UN. Phooey. Does anyone care (I certainly don't) what Sudan or Zimbabwe think? Britain matters, and Russia matters, certainly, but the UN isn't needed for talking to them. Jonah Goldberg tells him how he ought to start his speech.
Best of the Web linked to a strange story out of Iran. A man beheaded his seven year old daughter because he thought she had been raped. He has been arrested, but will not be hanged (in spite of calls from the locals) because only the father of the victim can call for the death sentence under Iran's Islamic law.
A few observations. First, clearly the locals are on to something. Second, how does this disagreement between the locals and the official law get sorted out by the multiculturalists in the west? Suppose he had been living in London or Dublin or Paris or some other haven for multiculturalists. The father insists he is protecting his honor. Are the multiculturalists going to defend him? Or are they going to back up the locals who want him hanged? Or will he not get hanged because the multis oppose the death penalty as part of their culture? Who gets to decide which culture applies to him? I await a coherent answer from the multis, but I have no plans to hold my breath waiting.
A judge said something sensible. The Edmonton Journal, in Canada, reported on a judge's terse comments on a punk arrested for looting during a riot.

The mob broke windows, threw concrete and glass at police, and did $165,00 in damage before 85 officers finally brought the situation under control.

Augier was seen running from Gordon Price Music, 10828 82nd Ave., about 3:45 a.m., carrying four guitars worth $2,500.

He was "cheering with the rioting crowd and encouraging them on," Crown prosecutor Paul Hazell said.

But his thrill was short-lived. As Augier, 32, rounded a corner, he ran into police, where he was "subject to some night-stick technology," Hazell said.

"He might have been entitled to that," Lefsrud replied.

Note this one, folks. A judge saying that a violent vandal who got whacked by the police deserved what he got. About damned time.

Dave Barry is one of the funniest men alive. The war has shown that he can be stunningly eloquent. This column is one that I save.
Josh Chafetz at OxBlog makes an unkind but accurate point about the "more dialogue" crowd. What, he asks, is the dialogue supposed to be about? Details, boys, or are you just trying to stall and delay?
Do you want to know the root causes of American anger? Check this site out. (The link came from Instapundit) The writer waits for the Euroweenies to denounce Iraqi unilateralism, among other things.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

I am enjoying the Mary Robinson scandal. Ruairi Quinn says she was supported by some of the Trinity Maoists who got financially successful. Her acolytes (Fergus Finlay, Brid Rosney) adopt the Sgt. Schultz strategy ("I know nothing") and says she didn't know. Finlay even insists that Labour did not cover up their support to mislead the Irish public. Will they be believed?