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Showing posts from December 11, 2005


The NYT article about Jack Abramoff’s covert payments to a Cato Institute columnist, Doug Bandow, includes this interesting graf: “A second scholar, Peter Ferrara, of the Institute for Policy Innovation, acknowledged in the same BusinessWeek Online piece that he had also taken money from Mr. Abramoff in exchange for writing certain opinion articles. But Mr. Ferrara did not apologize for doing so. "I do that all the time," Mr. Ferrara was quoted as saying. He did not reply to an e-mail message seeking comment on Friday.” We were a little heartened by Ferrara’s damn the torpedoes attitude because.. and we say this with great sorrow in our hearts – LI, too, has been on, or can be construed by some pink liberal commentator as being on, Abramoff’s retainer. In our position as policy coordinator at the libertarian “Abolish taxes and borrow money until 2100 comes around” institute – known around D.C., affectionately, as the Raw Steakeaters thinktank and mudwrestling extravaganza –

Darwin's funeral

LI received hundreds of protests by maddened Arnold-ites because of yesterday’s post, all asking: where is the link to Arnold’s Science and Literature, you putz ? To regroup, then. Huxley’s charge that learning the inflexions of the Latin verb for "the sex act from the rear” might not be the best preparation for the sprat bourgeoisie in Oxbridge has been amplified, over the years. Our concern, however, is with the unraveling of a certain liberal compromise deftly mapped by White. The Arnold – Huxley friendship/controversy set canonical limits to the gradual replacement of the religious worldview as having truthful reference to the material makeup of the world by the scientific worldview. Consequently, the question of the value of the material makeup, and the question of value itself, shifted, so that the gentleman’s agreement became: science tells us all we need to know about the facts; but the humanities – and in an extended sense, liberal religion – should monopolize the questio

science and culture

LI is reviewing a book that was chosen by the Conservative book club for the Austin Statesman. We won’t go into the book too much here. What has struck us, however, in this book and the author’s previous books is an odd, barely concealed hostility to science that crystallizes around evolution. The author of the book has a theory, which we think is untenable, that science is the linear descendent of Christian theology. His ideas echo those put forth by Steve Fuller in the Dover trial, with Newton’s theological concerns being exhibit number one. Permit us to politely dissent. The decisive separation between theology and science occurred in Newton’s work as Newton worked out the principles of his idea of not feigning hypotheses – essentially bringing Baconian theory of inductive ascent into natural philosophy. Newton himself had plenty of theories about Jesus, but used a conception of God in his natural philosophy that allowed for the absolute discovery of truths in nature without hypothe

a parable -- or the origins of Twister

A parable of the relationship between the White House and the Press. I found this story in Eraly’s history of the Moghuls: Humayun, the son of Babur, was a prankster. He invented a game called the “carpet of mirth.” “It had circles marked out on it in different colors to represent the planets, on which the courtiers positioned themselves according to the planet that was appropriate to them, and played a curious game, in which they either stood, sat or reclined according to the fall of the dice -- this, according to Abu Fazi, “was a means of increasing mirth.” The problem with this parable is that it is much too pretty to apply to the court in D.C., which is one of the more degraded forms of civilization. But, in the week that the Washington Post is standing, sitting and reclining in order to please the Karl Rove faction in the court regarding their 'liberal' White House blogger, Froomkin, --it seems appropriate.

the allawi strategy

So far, we have seen no analysis of the timing and nature of the American’s sudden interest in torture centers in Iraq. On the principle that fools rush in where the lackies of imperialism fear to tread – a saying that is in the Bible, or is it the Little Red Book? – we have a strong hunch that this shows the Americans have learned something in the last year. A year ago, the brilliant idea was to make Allawi seem palatable to the Shiites by staging a massacre of Sunnis in Fallujah. This strategy, let’s say, didn’t work. This year, the strategy seems to be more on target: de-legitimate the Islamist sector of the current government, and presumably Allawi will profit. This may work to some extent. There is no lawful figure at the moment protecting Sunni interests. The reminder of what a fully Shiite government can do (hence, the cynical American discovery of the torture centers) might overshadow Allawi’s record of massive corruption and complicity in American war crimes. Corruption is a s


LI has been reading The Crisis, David Harris’ book about the fall of the Shah and the Hostage Crisis. It is not a great or startling account – Harris is much too brief about the Shah, and his viewpoint is shaped, to a certain extent, by his access to his informants – thus Bani-Sadr comes off as a much better figure in this book than I believe he should. Harris is an ex American radical who is now utilizing his reputation and network to create these kinds of books, but one doesn’t feel he is informed enough to work against his sources’ biases. Looking past the author’s deficiencies, however, the hopelessness that emanates from this story has to do with the peculiarities of the American relationship with the Middle East. The inability to learn anything from past experience; the shaping of policy to meet the needs of the governing elite, even when those needs clearly conflict with national interest; and the insufficiencies of taking a colonialist point of view to nations that aren’t colon

there we go again...

Over at the Valve , there is a disturbing post about blogging. The writer claims that there is some convention that says that posts over 500 words are a waste of time, and that those who read blogs continually get impatient with reading longer matter. Now, LI’s posts regularly come in a bit over the 500 word limit – sometimes by 500 words – and we are always referring to longer reading matter. So the question here is: are we fucking up? I notice that the Valve post says nothing about re-reading posts. That might be our out from having gotten the whole culture completely wrong. I hope so – we at LI are starting to feel like the elves that built the broken toys that ended up on broken toy island. We are talking mass despondency. One of our writers tossed the two hundred page post responding point by point to Petroski’s history of the paper clip (with many amusing details culled from the various memoirs of King Louis XV’s court)in the garbage can today. But …Many of our most popular pos

poor richard's almanac, revised

The newest talking point by the pro-war side is to compare the irrationality of getting into the war with the irrationality of withdrawing from it. There was a post on Crooked Timber making this point, and I’ve read it in the Washington Post. My favorite, however, is Noah Feldman’s NYT Magazine piece Now, the logic of this argument is pretty much the logic of Bush culture in general. For instance, 9/11 happened, as we all know, after Bush was warned about an upcoming attack, after he failed to take it seriously enough even to communicate his info to the Secretary of Transportation or ask the FBI for any further information. In fact, he went on a month long vacation. Now, in Bush cultural terms, this makes Bush the ideal leader in the fight against terrorism. Failure is the new success. Indeed, Bush went on to make a botch of capturing or killing Bin Laden, and then went on to make an epochal botch of Iraq. To do this, of course, you need failures to help you. In Bush’s case, there is R

lies, the press, lies, the press

LI is struck by the lack of U.S. reporting on this story that comes, via Today in Iraq, from an AP report in The Hindu: “Baghdad, Dec. 9 (AP): A group of Shiite and Sunni parties has signed a declaration condemning terrorism, urging a timetable for the end of the US military presence, and vowing never to normalise relations with Israel. The parties to the "code of honour" included followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Sunni Iraqi Consensus Front. The code also declared that resistance is a legitimate right and condemned "terrorism, violence, murder and kidnappings." The code is non-binding but it indicates what parties might choose to work together after the new parliament is elected next week. Officials said al-Sadr was the driving figure behind the yesterday's pact.” So, let’s get this straight. The prime minister