Politics: June 2004 Archives

There's been a lot more on Justices Thomas and Scalia voting together, which I blogged about before. Volokh has a list of which pairs of justices vote agree the most in their endorsement of opinions. Scalia and Thomas are seventh in the list. Six other pairs of justices are more likely to agree than those two are. Four of those six pairs are more likely to be considered liberal. Two are conservative-moderate pairs (Rehnquist with O'Connor and Rehnquist with Kennedy). The most likely to agree are Souter and Ginsburg, 12% more likely to agree than Thomas and Scalia.

Will Baude at Crescat Sententia wonders why there's such a persistent myth that Clarence Thomas is a lapdog for Antonin Scalia and never expresses independent thought. Eugene Volokh has wondered about this before and also notices that these recent war on terror prisoner cases show about as strong a disagreement between the two as between any justices. Both wonder why this myth persists. Baude expresses his wonder at it even more strongly:

Usually, when a clearly-wrong belief persists like this one does, there is some sort of memetic explanation-- some reason that the belief is convenient, or that people who do not share it are unlikely to prosper, or some reason that the wrong belief has a particular advantage in replicating itself. But I can't think of any such explanation here.

Well, I can, and I would have thought it obvious.

Farcenheit 9/11

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Christopher Hitchens calls it Unfairenheit 9/11. Everyone else has been linking to Hitchens' review of Michael Moore's defecatory film. I didn't get around to reading it until now, and I don't really have anything to add, but I agree with everyone else linking to it that it deserves to be read. I knew Moore was a jerk and a nut, but I didn't realize how bad it was. Apparently he doesn't even have a consistent story about what's wrong with President Bush. Anything goes, as long as it's negative, even if it contradicts the last thing he said. It's bad enough that most of it contradicts fact, or at least leaves out enough facts to undermine most of what he says. Hitchens keeps saying Moore wants to have it three ways.

Uranium from Niger

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Mark Huband of The Financial Times reveals in two different stories that Niger really did have uranium deals with Iraq, and British claims to have had legitimate intelligence for that claim are vindicated. There was a good deal of intelligence on this, and the forged letters that were highly publicized were just the only ones people were talking about. As I said at the time, showing that one source for a piece of intelligence is faulty doesn't disprove the information. Other sources standing behind it may have been involved but classified. That seems to have been the case. For some people, the whole "Bush lied" campaign rests on this one item. Outside the Beltway and The Bellgravia Dispatch have more. Thanks to One Hand Clapping for posting the first I saw on this.

From a Washington Times report:

Talking about education yesterday, Mr. Kerry also told the largely black crowd at the day care center that there are more blacks in prison than in college.

"That's unacceptable," he said. "But it's not their fault."

What's not their fault? Is it not the fault of each criminal that he or she is a criminal or committed a crime? Or is it not the fault of black criminals as a whole that there are more blacks in prison than in college? If it's the first, it's a good example of separatist morality that I've mentioned in a few posts in the last week. (I'm not convinced every reason for the second is an instance of dangerous separatist morality, according to which someone isn't held as morally responsible simply in virtue of being black, but I haven't had time to think carefully enough about it to give one that I don't find problematic. I suspect I wouldn't be comfortable with Kerry's reasons, but I'd need to see more.)

Whichever one he means, the statement is actually true but not for the reasons he thinks. It's true that black people aren't responsible for there being more black people in prison than in college, but that's because there aren't more black people in prison than in college! See Joanne Jacobs and James Taranto for more.

I haven't seen as many all-out defense of the military operation in Iraq in a while, but here's one at the Fourth Rail that I think is very good, though incomplete, and I really would want to qualify it in a few places, but alas I don't have the time to do so carefully and thoughtfully. Thanks to the Blogging Caesar for linking to it.

World Magazine also has some links to those resisting the conclusion of the 9-11 Commission about connections between Saddam and al Qaeda. I haven't checked this out yet, but it's probably worth looking at. I've heard about much resistance to this conclusion, but I haven't had a chance to look at anything on this all day, so I have no thoughts to offer. From what I'd read so far, I thought it had already become crystal clear that some people high up in Saddam's government were close with people high up in bin Laden's organization but that the two head guys were officially opposed to each other. I'm not sure if even that connection is now being questioned or if the issue is just about bin Laden and Saddam themselves. If it's the latter, then it doesn't amount to much more than a bunch of misleading headlines. If it's the former, then I think they have their work cut out for them in terms of convincing people, because it's against what a lot of people have been saying.

Update: Josh Claybourn compares what the 9-11 Commission actually said with what the headlines have been reporting. Guess what? They don't disagree at all with what Vice President Cheney has been saying. Now it all makes a lot more sense. So why do the headlines misstate the Commission's conclusions so badly that it makes it sound as if there was no connection whatsoever? Probably for the same reason they've been doing that sort of thing all along.

Update 2: See Broken Masterpieces, Real Clear Politics, Andrew Sullivan for more. Such bad reporting should be seen as a scandal, but I don't expect any apologies. They probably won't even stop misreporting it. They didn't when it was pointed out that there were WMD found, just not any large stockpiles, and there were WMD programs in progress that would have been able to create enough WMD in a very short time serious enough damage that the premise of the Bush argument is true. The issue isn't whether there was a threat. It was whether that justifies an invasion. It's not Bush who's lying here.

Proverbs 26:4-5 (ESV):

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.

Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

I blogged about one aspect of this tension not long ago. Sometimes it really isn't a good idea to answer the fool according to his folly. It's not good to be like the fool. That's why when Paul starts to drip with sarcasm as II Corinthians goes on, and he keeps addressing the foolish arguments of the triumphalists on their own terms, he keeps saying that he's speaking like a fool. Yet sometimes it's best to address the fool according to his folly, as Paul very much does in II Corinthians. Sometimes the point can be made another way, but making it on the terms of the fool provides the emotional and rhetorical strategy necessary for the fool to see the point.

Joe Carter takes the second road in addressing the issues Bush's war for oil, and he does it well. This argument was never based on anything more than a suspicion on the part of those determined for Bush to be evil, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the suspicion on which it's based is pretty far from Bush's real motivations. Whatever you say about just cause (on which I happen to think a good defense can be made), the charges that Bush fails on right intention don't seem very likely. I wasn't as confident of that at the beginning, but I was willing to trust the president. That trust has been vindicated.

Liberals for Nukes

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Liberal bloggers are lining up to advocate a turn to nuclear power. Matthew Yglesias describes the prevailing liberal opposition to nuclear power as irrational and gives an additional motivation -- a market for uranium to keep developing nations from the temptation to sell to terrorists or rogue nations. Mark Kleiman summarizes most of the reasons nuclear power is better than anything else we know about (something even the French have figured out) and proposes a solution to the waste problem. Even Brad DeLong chimes in his agreement, not that he adds anything. Thanks to Stuart Buck for the links to DeLong and Kleiman and for reminding us that coal mining is the most dangerous job in the U.S.

Ochuk has a very interesting post about Planned Parenthood. After acknowledging that yelling at people who have already made up their minds what they're going to do when standing outside Planned Parenthood isn't going to accomplish much, he raises the question (or rather brings it up after someone else raised it) whether Christians would be better working inside the organization and helping reform it. Then he extends the question more generally to whether a Christian should work for a company that exploits people or serves to promote social injustice in some other way.

Lara Jakes Jordan of the Associated Press has targeted the Bush Campaign's use of churches to organize support, saying that it should cause those churches to lose their tax-exempt status. The idea is to have someone from each church that tends to be more conservative to serve as an organizer for that congregation. This person will garner support within that group. The problem, according to Jordan, is that a tax-exempt status requires a non-profit organization to remain independent of any political candidates. No campaigning for or against any candidate is allowed by such an organization. The Bush Campaign coordinator for the state in question replied that this is a way to organize individuals, and the use of churches is simply a way of finding the people who will more likely support the president. No campaigning need go on in the church building, and none need be endorsed by the church.

Regardless of whether that answer is sufficient, other questions come to my mind. This reminds me of the targeting of pro-life groups for similar reasons while ignoring the environmentalist advocacy groups, pro-abortion (not pro-choice, since they rely on abortions to pay their salaries) groups like Planned Parenthood, and other not-for-profit groups with liberal political axes to grind.

There's no law against campaigns targeting churches. The law is against churches remaining not-for-profit if they endorse a candidate. I can't therefore legally fault all the Democratic candidates who wouldn't darken the door of a church (or at least one that believes anything) most of the year but then have to put in some time keeping black people in line by speaking in black churches in communities they'd never normally set foot in and have never bothered to try to understand. It's pandering and condescending (in the negative sense), and it led fellow Democrat Mickey Kaus to call John Kerry the Pandescenderer. It's morally obnoxious to engage in such insulting behavior, but there's nothing illegal about it, at least for the candidate. It can be construed as a church supporting a political candidate, though. Given that most of these candidates couldn't exegete a biblical passage to save their life, what qualification do they have to be giving a sermon except as a candidate for public office giving a political lecture at the invitation of the church?

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