Friday, April 27, 2007


Tonight's brief respite from translating the horrors of the Roman satirist Persius allowed me to watch the Bill Moyers PBS special "Buying the War," which has been the subject of much talk (I won't say "debate") in the blogosphere. You've all probably heard about this, so only watch it if you really care to, as it shows nothing new from what we've discussed at length here at Huffy Crew. I will only point out that Dan Rather is quite a tearful fellow and that I had no idea that Knight-Ridder was such a contrarian news source. Well, actually, to elaborate a bit more, I will say this: Watching much of the pre-war footage (which was no doubt picked for rhetorical purposes by Moyers and his team but which is a pretty faithful summary of the general feeling leading up to the war, I think), you can see how much of the Washington press was bamboozled into supporting this thing. Saddam was an age-old enemy, Afghanistan had been an "easy" venture, and most importantly, the press seemed to be genuinely excited about what we were capable of militarily. Iraq was supposed to be so incredibly easy that the idea of American casualties (I pass over Iraqis...) counted about nil. Draw whatever conclusions you will about the "spectacular" character of modern American warfare. (I.e. how exciting is it to flash an "America at War" graphic on your news screen and feature dispatches from your "embedded" reporter, On The Ground in Iraq.)

Persius is good for some quality nuggets, in any case. Take this one:

O mores, usque adeone
scire tuum nihil est nisi te scire hoc sciat alter?

O the state of things, has it come to this
that what you know counts as nothing unless someone else knows you know it?


respue quod non es.

Spit out that which is not you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Where's the Defense of Missile Defense?

I admit to being a bit bewildered by the brouhaha surrounding the U.S. desire to install a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. It seems that while the media's almost exclusive focus is on the tension it's creating between the U.S. and Russia (and to a lesser extent Western Europe), the real question seems to be: why does the United States, as Robert Gates has said, feel it's necessary for the "indivisible security for the Unites States and our NATO allies" to install these missiles in the first place? Here are some plausible answers being vaguely floated around:

1) Iran and North Korean missiles pose a realistic threat to European security (as well as to U.S. troops stationed in Europe) in the next two decades, a threat which can be deterred or shot-down by a defense shield.

2) A missile defense shield serves as a political and possibly military response to Russian military moves, and threats to Western oil supplies.

The first plausible answer -- more or less Gates' -- just doesn't make sense to me. As Gates himself so proudly stated in response to Russia's exaggerated opposition, "The days of the Cold War are over and no one should seek a return to them." Exactly. If the Cold War days are over, then why are we building a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe as if Western Europe was still staring at the proverbial barrel of 45,000 nuclear warheads? If the threats to European security are so severe, then why do Europeans-- including the contrarian Polish -- fear acceptance of it will come at the expense of their security? This doesn't seem to be the old Cold War case of European governments secretly nudging us on while presenting a public face in opposition to the American military, although perhaps I'm still capable of misreading these European politicians. (They've demonstrated enough secret compliance in intra-European C.I.A. flights, illegal renditions, and torture at Guantanamo to make anyone a bit cynical.) Regardless, if the United States really wanted the E.U. on board regarding Iran and North Korea, then wouldn't it be good diplomacy to leave Europe to defend itself against the threat of a missile attack, and therefore make their need to pressure these countries all the more dire?

The second response -- the Russian one -- is equally full of holes. If the U.S. was really out to get Russia, then why would Gates fly over there and somewhat desparately (and persuasively, in this case) make his case to Putin?

I have no doubt Gates will soon get some kind of negotiated deal, and besides the barely audible cries of European Greens and leftists, no one will hear about this missile defense project again. Until then, we'll never really know why $3.5 billion was spent on an installation which in my estimation will produce only one victory: those reaping the financial and political benefits of military industrial production.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Delicious Maps

I heartily recommend checking out the Worldmapper project, which is using a little technique called "equal-area cartograms" To produce wonderfully descriptive maps covering all sorts of interesting demographic and social statistics. Pictures are your friend.

Leisure activities of the Self Righteous

I'm not sure that I have too much to say about this at this point, but the blog needed a bit of propulsion and I had to get this out. I've been taking notice (largely since my Grandmother got Satellite TV) a peculiar thing about a great deal of the Arabic Christian religious programming. Besides the regular preachifying, bible stories, televised services and the like, there seem to be significant chunks of the programming schedule devoted to "debunking" Islam. Go figure...

These mythbusters do not meddle with ballistics gel and blasting caps however, they usually sport an array of Muslim scholars (whose authority I'm in no place to comment on) and a very well versed knowledge of the Qur'an (or at least what it says). Generally there are two characters, a layman and a priest--and as I've noticed at least one of the two has to be a former Muslim now very vocally living a new life with the J-man. The rhetorical structure resembles some sort of perverse good-cop-bad-cop scenario: So the layman will often read emailed in questions or just throw out his own "nagging doubts" you could say, and the Priest/expert answers them with startling numbers of citations and book recommendations, all the while himself being sure not to place explicit judgment, just a sort of bemused surprise at all these strange things they're finding out about Islam. e.g.

Dude: "Is it true that there are errors (mistakes) in the Qur'an?"
Priest: "Well actually, yes, you see in this manuscript blah blah blah, and this scholar tries to explain it by this way but doesn't that seem strange? I mean I'm not wanting to criticize but isn't it strange how you can have so many discrepancies or errors?"
Dude: "wow, that is peculiar... I wonder why that is..."


Dude: "So you know when I was a Muslim I always had problems with remembering the exact number of repetitions I should do for my prayers blah blah blah and Ramadan always seemed like a chore to me, you know? What's the bible and Christianity say about religious obligations and prayers."
Priest: "[to the effect of everything is easy and good in the warm, muscular arms of Jesus, and how when Christians fast its so totally different, etc.]"
Dude: "Yea, he is pretty sweet, I don't miss Ramadan one bit"

This is at least a few hours worth of daily programming, and although perhaps I didn't represent it that well, it seems to me weaselly and disingenuous. It creates a huge bank of ego credit for the Christian viewers, now even more complacent in the belief that their religion is soooooo freaking good and confirms the Muslim majority surrounding them are a bunch of pitiable fools (definitely pitiable, Jesus still loves them). And to think on the converse any Muslim viewer watching, far from feeling that this thinly veiled attack on their faith was a discussion, would then most likely have resentment for the increasingly cloistered Christian populations confirmed.

I suppose this kinda shit is all run of the mill for all religions, but I think what disturbs me the most is that the Copts and other Arab Christians, attempting to distance themselves from the media-produced image of a horde of screaming religious fundamentalist arabs (muslims), have decided to become inquisitive-voiced, soft-spoken religious fundamentalist arabs. It's like how sugar-coated pills are often much more difficult to swallow because of that mucous-y sweetness...
I've got little more insight to pour into this now, but it has been nagging me.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ideas or "people"?

Tyler Cowen articulates an excellent argument for not discussing his personal candidate in the '08 Presidential Race. I tend to agree with him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Silly Americans...when are we going to learn?

This is one of the more creative get-rich-quick schemes I've heard of: Breaking News. Check out the other "criminal peculiarity" links at the bottom for more tales of utter idiocy.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Let us now praise Robert Novak?

Credit where it's due: Robert Novak has written an astoundingly level-headed column about the occupied territories. That said, the impetus for the piece is apparently the plight of Christians within Palestine, but whatever makes people start facing reality, I guess. Novak makes the simple but obvious connection that cutting off funding for Palestine and so blatantly favoring Israel against them radicalizes yet more Palestinians and works against our interests. Something isn't exactly right, however, as Novak mentions one (Christian, free-marketer) mayor's plight because of his contact with the PFLP, and actually doesn't immediately agree with the State Department's designation of them as terrorists! Novak is either ignorant of the group all around or he is consciously refraining from accepting the official State line. Weird.

I won't say that this piece is too praiseworthy because in my mind it only meets the base-line requirements for establishing a sane discourse about solving the Israel/Palestine conflict. The point, however, is that this base-line is rejected by about 75% of the mainstream voices discussing the issue. This base-line includes 1) not automatically blaming the Palestinians for bringing all their woes upon themselves, 2) honestly acknowledging the continued settlement-building in the occupied territories, contrary to all of the international peace recommendations, 3) acknowledging that whoever is ultimately at fault, many more Palestinians die from the conflict than Israelis, and 4) recognizing that life for the Palestinians is often second-class and segregated when it doesn't have to be. Say what you will about the profoundly retrogressive and terroristic acts against civilians on the part of the armed wing of Hamas or Islamic Jihad; in fact, I will gladly join you. But just attempt to be fair, for Christ's sake.

Novak actually goes quite beyond these starting points, titling his piece "Worse Than Apartheid?" (this may have been the WaPo editors, of course), sticking up for Jimmy Carter (!), calling the killing of a Palestinian man by the IDF "a minor incident last week of the type that goes unnoticed internationally" (what, no worldwide liberal media?), and saying that the separation wall "in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence." Who the fuck forgot to properly indoctrinate this guy Monday morning?

I'm all for this, by the way, if Novak feels like being a "useful idiot" in raising awareness about the plight of the Palestinians. If what it takes is for a bunch of crusty old Beltway insiders like him to start talking about Christians being persecuted in Gaza, that's fine; just as long as they remain unintimidated by the hardcore party liners who normally put such people in their place. Let's see some more of this.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The reactionary conception of hotness embodied in traditional bourgeois culture.

Watch this, then read the below.

An Astute Analysis, Previously Published in the Washington University Political Review, By James Duesterberg Follows

Is “This is Why I’m Hot” hot? A Marxist Analysis of MIMS’ Seminal Hip-hop Opus.

“The spectacle’s function in society is the concrete manufacture of alienation.” –Guy Debord, La Société du Spectacle, 1967

“If the simulacrum is so well designed that it becomes an effective organizer of reality, then surely it is man, not the simulacrum, who is turned into an abstraction.” – Jean Baudrillard, La Systeme des Objets, 1968

“It is only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, ‘multiplicity,’ that it ceases to have any relation to the One as subject or object natural or spiritual reality, image and world. Multiplicities are rhizomatic, and expose arborescent pseudomultiplicities for what they are…The point is that a rhizome or multiplicity never allows itself to be overcoded.” Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Mille Plateaux : Capitalisme et Schizophrénie (emphasis added) 1980

“This is why I’m hot.” – MIMS, Ca C’est Porquoi Je Suis Chaud, 2007

New York-based conceptual artist MIMS’ recent work This is Why I’m Hot is taken by many as a tautological exercise in self-glorification, a sort of post-Freudian, urban swan song to male braggadocio. On this view, “This is Why I’m Hot” is not hot; in fact, it “ain’t.” The song would thus represent a simple ideological reaffirmation of the dominant class paradigm; in its glorification of “driving cars,” “big spinners,” “different women that you niggaz never had,” “shutting down stores just so I can shop,” etc, Hot is just another cultural artifact glorifying materialism and the hence the current mode of production in late capitalism (as defined by Jameson in Postmodernism, or: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism)

However, if we follow Herbert Marcuse in The Aesthetic Dimension, we can look at the song in a different, and potentially much more progressive, light. Marcuse writes that art, “by virtue of its aesthetic form…is largely autonomous vis a vis the given social relations” (Marcuse ix). If revolution must be rooted in the felt subjective needs of individuals themselves, revolutionary art must address subjects as such. The “content” of works of art – e.g., what MIMS says[1] - does not necessarily have to be revolutionary (i.e., proclaim the need for social change). Aesthetic beauty works to reveal ideology for what it is, simultaneously laying bare and clarifying the revolutionary consciousness underlying the bourgeois subject (ibid).

We are now ready to look more carefully at MIMS work. MIMS presents us with a seeming tautology, repeating “This is why I’m Hot” as a justification for the proposition “This is why I’m Hot,” or alternately stating “I’m hot cuz I’m fly.” Either way, he seems to suggest that he is hot because he is hot. The song is indeed rife with such paradoxes: When asked how he “does it” (i.e., how he maintains his hot status), he “simply repl[ies]: This is why I’m hot.”; in a recent interview, MIMS claimed, in response to a question asking why his work was popular “There’s really not too much I can say about the record. It’s just a huge record,” implying that the record is hot because it is hot.

We can take this tautology to mean, denotatively, that his hotness is essentially a simulacrum (following Baudrillard)[2]. Does this imply that MIMS is advocating a simulationist conception of hotness – essentially a culturally relativist, Rortian-pragmatist position? In fact, he is not. By revealing the essentially tautological nature of hotness in postmodern society (a critique also performed, albeit less skillfully, by Paris Hilton in her 2003 video-art piece The Simple Life), he implicitly refutes the intellectual poverty of late capitalism and the reactionary conception of hotness embodied in traditional bourgeois culture.

If we look closely at certain passages in Hot, we can see this ironic critique more clearly. In Vol. 3 of the work, MIMS relates an episode in which “shorty see the drop.” Subsequently, she “ask me what I paid,” to which MIMS responds “yeah I paid a guop.” By deliberately obfuscating the actual purchase price of his drop – which he could easily have revealed, probably with a correspondingly desirable reaction on the part of the shorty – MIMS subverts dominant consumerist ideology. In Vol. 1, MIMS relates how his hotness – again seen as a simulacrum – translates cross-culturally (e.g., in his ability to move from “the dirty dirty [South]” to the Midwest, to “[San] fr[ans]isco,” to “the Chi[cago]”). This could be considered an affirmation of the reactionary-bourgeois concept of hotness, but the fact that he is able to seamlessly move from coast-to-coast, receiving accolades for his hotness even though he “don’t gotta rap/I could sell a mil[lion dollars worth of records] sayin[g] nothin[g] on a track,” simply reveals the pervasiveness of ideology in a globalized capitalist system. That is, his (simulated) hotness does not depend on a local cultural scene for recognition, but rather the globally hegemonic ideology of capitalist exploitation.

MIMS, then, serves as a paradigmatic example of the ability for seemingly reactionary or apolitical high art to embody the liberatory politics of social transformation through a critique embodied in the form itself. We might, then, be in a position to revise Marcuse’s dictum that “there may be more subversive potential in the poetry of Baudelaire and Rimbaud than in the didactic plays of Brecht” (Marcuse xiii), substituting the work of contemporary artists such as MIMS for the older poets, whose work seems less relevant in an age of late-capitalist consumerism.

[1] MIMS claims that “could sell a mil’ sayin’ nothin’ on a track”; thus, MIMS anticipates, and explicitly refutes, the orthodox Marxist reading of his work.

[2] “Simulation…is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyper-real…simulation threatens the difference between the ‘true’ and the ‘false,’ the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary.’” (Baudrillard, Simulacres et Simulation, 1-3)

On the British hostages, freedom, and the military...

So, the whole British hostages thing... Plenty has been written about the insane things being said about this story, which is thankfully over. (Although perhaps not in the long term...?) MediaMatters has a pretty good mop-up job of the madness here. The usual suspects had a fun time pounding their keyboards about how the British troops should have accepted death rather than appear on Iranian television, presumably in order to sublimate certain masochistic militarist fantasies on their parts. John Derbyshire, whom I have designated "Semi-Intelligent Yet Prone to Revolting Arguments," said that the British troops, upon returning home, should be court-martialed, and that he "didn't entirely disagree" with the sentiment that they should be executed (for their cowardice, of course). New York Post columnist Ralph Peters said the "wankers" of the Royal Marines "wimped out" and should be "disbanded and stricken from the rolls" since they didn't "resist collaboration" "to the last man and woman." Ho-hum. Just another day in the world of the "I can't politely stand up right now because I've just been thinking of heavy infantry" crowd.

Here's what's really interesting to me: On the National Review's editorial page, they say that the important next step for Britain is to "mak[e] sure the captives repudiate their confessions and denounce their captors" and "have the 15 demand compensation for their illegal capture and treatment."* In other words, fight Iran's propaganda with our own propaganda. What's left out is any consideration of the personal beliefs of the troops themselves, their individual rights presumably being the reason that the Iranians' parading of them on television was wrong in the first place. Is this not, at the end of the day, a little sick? I don't mean just from a critical perspective on the conservative position, but in general, as a criticism of the military. Soldiers are citizens with rights no different from the average civilian. In fact, their willingness to place their lives on the line, often for useless or even pernicious enterprises (not of their own choosing), should seemingly entitle them to an even greater freedom in expressing their views. But this of course runs counter to the general hive mentality of the military. The point of the military is that in dangerous situations freedom of expression is a freedom we can ill afford. A disobeyed order means the potential deaths of others, or the "shame" of the nation. A critical comment, based on the firm individual beliefs of the speaker, can be "conduct unbecoming an officer," as in the case of the court-martialed Lt. Ehren Watada, who spoke out against President Bush and the Iraq War.

Austin-5000 and I, in our earth-shaking reunion a week ago, watched a bit of A Few Good Men on the ol' teevee. I really don't think this movie could be made today. Although it's nominally about truth and justice, and how nobody, not even super bad-ass Jack Nicholson, is above the law, it's really about how pointy-headed lawyers and civilians who don't know shit about real combat can tell hardened military personnel what to do. Nicholson's character Col. Jessup believes exactly what I outlined above: the idea that if marines don't do exactly what they're told and suppress their personal feelings and weaknesses, they deserve to be punished, even to the extreme of death. Derbyshire and Peters seem to believe it today, and this sort of spirit runs high in our "age of terror."

Here's an important point, one that the libertarian Milton Friedman stuck to in his advocacy of a volunteer army: If free choice is one of the defining characteristics of the modern liberal age (and the backbone of a free market economy, with uncoerced buyers and sellers entering into free contracts with one another), why is the military so fundamentally unfree? Is there such an essential difference between civilian life and military life that the basic freedoms extended to private citizens should be so pointedly withheld from those in the armed forces? For the hardcore conservative side, the answer is pretty easy: It's that they don't give a shit about freedom, especially for gays, drug users, flag burners, war protesters, enemy combatants, and other "subversives." For them, rights are inscribed within a nationalist framework (and specifically an imagined community of patriotic, heterosexual Christians). Rights are of the Volk rather than of all humankind. This is one reason why in the last few months I've found libertarianism to be so immensely refreshing, if only because it's an internally coherent and consistent position.

As for the military question, it does actually seem to be easily resolvable within several kinds of explanation. For example, from a pragmatic perspective the curtailment of rights for the military stems from the obvious dangers which could result from a more or less "anarchic" military system. Since there are no fundamental principles to be adhered to in pragmatism, the lessening of rights for some makes sense in that the benefits outweigh the dangers. (Notice that this begs the question for the pragmatist of how "benefit" and "danger" aren't then fundamental principles.) On the other hand, from a social contractual perspective soldiers can be conceived of as entering into an autonomous "agreement" to accept fewer rights because of their military involvement: The courts-martial that can result from a disobeyed order or unbecoming conduct are the necessary penalties paid for not living up to the "stipulations" of the contract. The obvious problem with this position for classical liberals is that if fundamental rights can be voluntarily ceded in military situations, what prevents them from being compromised within a more general social contract? (I'm thinking specifically here of the redistribution of income--a violation of the freely gained fruits of labor--for the purpose of the alleviation of "societal ills": poverty, poor education, etc. The pragmatist is presumably already on board for these measures, but again for reasons that don't seem explicable except through some appeal to basic principles--i.e. "alleviation of societal ills" is a good thing, but why?)

I hope these questions provide some food for thought and hopefully some good conversation. Where's that been on the blog lately?

Coincidentally, I've been listening to Fela Kuti's "Zombie" throughout this whole post. (Lyrics here.)

* The National Review editorial also contains this paragraph:

"If there is a glimmer of hope in this shameful denouement, it is the possibility that the sheer brazenness of the kidnappings will shatter some of the widespread naïveté — particularly in the British and American diplomatic corps — about the nature of the Iranian regime. It has never been reasonable to think that this regime, whose guiding purpose is to export its particular brand of Islamism, could be made to act in accordance with the West’s interests. Its latest exercise in hostage-taking-as-foreign-policy underscores the unreasonableness of that view."

What's patently ridiculous about this paragraph is that if you turn the tables and insert the U.S. into Iran's position, you still have a perfectly consistent argument. So, suppose the paragraph was published in Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly and read thus:

"If there is a glimmer of hope in this shameful denouement, it is the possibility that the sheer brazenness of the kidnappings will shatter some of the widespread naïveté — particularly in the Egyptian and Jordanian diplomatic corps — about the nature of the American regime. It has never been reasonable to think that this regime, whose guiding purpose is to export its particular brand of Americanism, could be made to act in accordance with the Middle East’s interests. Its latest exercise in hostage-taking-as-foreign-policy underscores the unreasonableness of that view."

Since we have in fact kidnapped Iranian officials, Al Jazeera newsmen (still being held at Guantanamo), and deported and rendered countless foreigners, such a paragraph would make quite a lot of sense. (Plus when you tally the "exporting" that each side has done, the results aren't very comforting.) This seeming contradiction is easily remediable by the fact that the National Review doesn't care about internationalism or universal rights, only about American interests. This is the irrepressible lightness and joy of being a conservative, I guess.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Return of the Son of A&L Daily Watch--The Sequel, part III

It took a little over a month, but my February 22 candidate for "the worst article linked to on Arts and Letters Daily, ever" has officially been beaten! I hope you're as super excited about this news as I am, because we've got a real winner on our hands, here: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you--Hugh Fitzgerald!

Let's learn a little bit about our winner, shall we? Hugh is "Vice President of the Board" of Jihad Watch*, an immensely popular website "dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world and to correcting popular misconceptions about the role of jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts. By shedding as much light as possible on these matters, we hope to alert people of good will to the true nature of the present global conflict." How noble of them! And as we soon learn, "jihad" is not confined to terrorists: no, jihad is "a central duty of every Muslim" (italics mine). Hugh himself is the author of such classics as "Palestine [sic]" and "The re-primitization of the world" (guess whom under!). In other words--well, there are no other words, really. Draw the only conclusion there is to draw.

Hugh has a sterling bit of prose posted at the New English Review, a website which I previously thought was a stomping ground for a class of people whom I shall call "Semi-Intelligent yet Prone to Revolting Arguments"--people like John Derbyshire and Theodore Dalrymple. However, now I see that any chauvinist with a keyboard and a copy of The Turner Diaries is a persona maxime grata there.

The only interesting thing about this piece is that it reveals the possibility of criticizing Bernard Lewis from the right--and how! Lewis, you see, and not to mention everyone in his "circle," including Dick Cheney, the American Enterprise Institute, and the whole sick neoconservative crew, doesn't understand the real threat posed by Islam; what's worse, they try to "civilize" them through "spreading democracy"! (If one really believes that Cheney, Lewis, et al believe in that stuff, and aren't just interested in material and hegemonic gain, then I suppose Fitzgerald's criticisms show a big difference between two strands of conservatism, the "neo-" and the "paleo-", or in any case between "batshit crazy" and the "really fucking batshit crazy.")

Hear Fitzgerald's definition of "the most terrifying danger to the survival of the West ever":
that of the Muslims now settled deep within that West, and playing not only on the two pre-existing mental pathologies of antisemitism and anti-Americanism, but also on the sentimental weaknesses of the entire Western world, that has forgotten its own achievements, the legacy that needs to be protected, and its own superiority to Islam and everything about Islam.
How can you top that? In spades, that's how:
I assume that like all educated Europeans he thinks that the efforts of Masaryk and Benes, by which 7 million Czechs and Slovaks managed to expel 3 million Germans, was justified, but why does he not hint that perhaps the same kind of expulsions like those which were required to reduce what at the time was merely a theoretical future threat posed to 7 million non-Germans in Czechoslovakia, could certainly justify the need to preserve the civilizational legacy – Plato and Spinoza and Hume, Leonardo and Shakespeare, Dante and Quevedo (from whom Lewis borrowed some affectionate Spanish for a dedication) –of the Western world, lest it be undone by the most inexorable, and entirely unworthy, of subversives – mere demography, mere migration and overbreeding.
Advocacy of ethnic cleansing: That's a new one, I think, for the pages of A&L Daily. Martin Peretz, eat your heart out.

And now, just in case I haven't said this before, in case I seem obsessive, or overly censorious, or out to silence those whom I disagree with, in case you're thinking, "Jesus, scantron, we get it, A&L Daily hosts some shite articles, but it's a bloody link dump, it doesn't necessarily reflect their views, give it a rest"--I say, Arts and Letters Daily is a widely read, "intellectual" website which is an official appendage of the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is no way above criticism, and this sort of racism calls for the harshest criticism imaginable. Mr. Fitzgerald in no way furthers "scholarly debate"; his articles reveal an almost pathological hatred of Muslim people, the sort of hatred, I think, that would be a tough match for the grossest antisemitism taught in the vilest of terrorist recruiting camps. Arts and Letters Daily deserves nothing less than an academic boycott for hosting such garbage. Its prominence is largely due to word-of-mouth praise among educated people; let that praise be reversed, let the readership drop, and let them lose favor in the "marketplace of ideas." This bullshit has gone on too long, and this latest screed, a David Duke piece in sheep's clothing, is the piece de resistance of said bullshit.

*Look up this filthy offal for yourselves, I refuse to link to it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Supreme Court acknowledges Global Warming

Back in January I discussed the implications of warm weather in DC for the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. The Court issued its decision today, with a 5-4 verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs. Here is a link. The Court acknowledges that Global Warming is occurring:
The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized. The Government’s own objective assessment of the relevant science and a strong consensus among qualified experts in-dicate that global warming threatens, inter alia, a precipitate rise insea levels, severe and irreversible changes to natural ecosystems, a significant reduction in winter snowpack with direct and important economic consequences, and increases in the spread of disease and the ferocity of weather events.

This is a huge victory for the environmental movement. It will be interesting to see whether people begin to acknowledge the legitimacy of climate change. I'll think of something profound to say about this later.