Bill O’Reilly is a bad man

by Ted on January 12, 2004

Need a couple of fresh reasons to dislike Bill O’Reilly?

* Thankfully, there seems to be a widespread agreement that Nazi comparisons are inappropriate for our domestic political opponents. Last week, columnist Ralph Peters was criticized for his comparison of Dean to Hitler, and MoveOn was criticized for failing to remove from their server homemade commercials that compared Bush to Hitler.

Ladies and gentlemen, O’Reilly on the ACLU:

“The ACLU is the most fascist organization I have seen in decades. They want to tell you how to live. They don’t want to abide by the Constitution. They want to go AROUND the Constitution. They’re intellectual fascists. And they use the courts as their Panzer divisions.”

Nothing expresses faith in our nation of laws like comparing “courts” and “Panzer divisions”, does it?

* O’Reilly has repeatedly lied about the interview in which he told Jeremy Glick to “shut up” and cut off his microphone. As it turns out, transcripts can be checked on this intergummy thing. Someone should make up a phrase about that.

I do not understand blogger triumphalism

by Ted on January 12, 2004

The Paul O’Neil book is an instructive case. President Bush has been accused by his ex-Treasury Secretary of being disengaged, over his head, and led by advisors who put political calculations over the good of the country (cough, Mars mission). Furthermore, O’Neil says that the Bush administration had made its decision to invade Iraq almost immediately after the inauguration.

Glenn Reynolds sees the issue as such:

As I understand it the big hype is that he says (1) that Bush can talk a lot in meetings; and (2) the Administration wanted to topple Saddam before 9/11.

First of all, Glenn has point (1) exactly backwards (which he later admits). O’Neil says that Bush was unengaged and unresponsive, sitting through large and small meetings without questions or comments. Reynolds’ comprehension of stories he doesn’t want to hear doesn’t give one a lot of confidence in the rest of his analysis. And, in fact, confidence is not warranted.

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Blogging and Academia

by Brian on January 12, 2004

There’s been much hand-wringing over Chris’s post and related links about the role having a blog might have when it comes to getting an academic job. I think it’s all much ado about nothing, but since I’ve done very well professionally out of blogging I suppose I might think that.

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School Vouchers in the UK?

by Harry on January 12, 2004

The New Statesman (subscription required) just published this article about why school vouchers would not have a beneficial impact in Britain. I wrote it in a fit of irritation after hearing the know-all Melanie Phillips on the radio expressing her support for vouchers, and invoking the Swedish and Dutch experiences. The Swedish voucher scheme has been evaluated positively (and frequently) by Bergstrom and Sandstrom. But it is tiny, and if you read the version of their study put out by the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation you’ll find no evidence of improved scores, and that it is regulated in a way that is unimaginable in the US or UK. The Dutch experience is very different — most children attend private schools on what is effectively a voucher system, but the State subjects all schools to heavy regulation, and the vouchers are highly progressive (schools get paid much more for low-income kids, kids from homes with low levels of parental education, kids from non-Dutch speaking homes). The Netherlands is consistently a pretty high performer in international comparisons of children’s achievement. But there is no particular reason to think this is due to their having private schools. The virtual elimination of child poverty, for example, might be responsible. My response to Phillips on the comparison is this: you give us high marginal tax rates, low levels of inequality and child poverty, etc, and I’ll give you progressive school vouchers.
Anyway, that’s the background — the article ignores the other Northern Europeans, and concentrates on the differences between the US and the UK. Here it is:

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Maher Arar

by Brian on January 12, 2004

Katherine at Obsidian Wings has three good posts up (one two three) about the Maher Arar case I mentioned yesterday. I’m feeling a little guilty about that post because I let my outrage over the administration’s treatment of allied citizens get in the way of proper scepticism about the story. Obviously I don’t know that Arar was innocent, for example, though if what’s reported is true it’s still outrageous even if he’s guilty. I’m still of the old-fashioned school of thought that says a fair trial and all that is a good thing even for the most vicious of criminals. But we need to know a lot more about the case before leaping to conclusions, and Katherine is doing a very valuable service in putting together the available evidence from all sides.

UPDATE (13/1): Katherine has three more links up (four five six) which are again recommended.

Philosophy Talk

by Brian on January 12, 2004

Philosophy Talk, the philosophy radio program featuring Ken Taylor and John Perry, will be debuting its first regular season on KALW at 12 o’clock tomorrow San Francisco time (that’s 3pm in New York, 8pm in London and 7am Wednsday in Melbourne, if I’ve done the math correctly) and you can listen over the internet via the KALW link. The trial run program they did last year was very good I thought, so it should be worth a listen. Tomorrow’s show is on Bush’s doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defence.

Brooke at a Fistful of Euros

by Chris Bertram on January 12, 2004

I see that “Chris Brooke”: is guest-blogging over at a “Fistful of Euros”: He’s sure to say much of interest at what is becoming one of the best blogs around. His “first post there”: alerted me to something I’d missed, namely “Scott Martens’s excellent exposition of Marx’s On The Jewish Question”: (in comments – you have to scroll down), which connects with some of the issues discussed in “my post below”: about Clermont-Tonnerre and the 1789 debates about the rights of man in the French National Assembly.

Could blogging damage your career?

by Chris Bertram on January 12, 2004

Brian “writes below”: :

bq. it will be a long time before I start listing any especially good blogposts on my CV.

But the latest “thread from Invisible Adjunct”: suggests that he won’t have to, and that the good ones (and the bad ones) will be taken down in evidence ….

IA cites a member of a job search committee:

bq. I’ll be interviewing people at MLA, and, trust me, we’ve ‘Googled’ every job candidate to establish whether they are a good ‘fit’ for our institution. Watch what you say.

Oh dear.