by Henry on February 14, 2006

“Scott McLemee”:http://www.mclemee.com/id4.html (Scott doesn’t do the permalinks thing, so this is liable to disappear sooner or later…).

bq. This summer, Jonah Goldberg is publishing a book.

bq. It hardly seems fair. Shouldn’t he have to read one, first?

Block that kick

by Ted on February 14, 2006

Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report passes on a story about public financing of advertising and PR campaigns. In the past two and a half years, the federal government has spent $1.6 billion on it. While that’s a drop in the federal bucket, it’s enough money to get excited about.

It’s framed by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman as if it the Bush Administration was spending over a billion dollars of public funds to promote his agenda. Steve is right to highlight cases in which this has, in fact, happened. But if you read the report (.pdf), it’s pretty hard to defend that characterization for the large majority of the money. Most of the money is spent by non-partisan government agencies- the military, the Census, the DEA, lots of things. Quite a lot of it is unobjectionable. The military really does need to buy advertisements to recruit soldiers. The NIH really should be promoting heart disease awareness. Some of these agencies exist just to create and promote public awareness campaigns about things like breastfeeding or child safety seats. And so on.

That doesn’t make it bulletproof, of course. Quite a lot of it is surely a waste of taxpayer’s money, like the $55 million the Bureau of Engraving and Printing spent promoting the new currency. It has the potential to be an enormous patronage machine. And, we’ve seen that some of it has been used inapproriately for partisan campaigning. But we’re not looking at $1.6 billion for An Army of Armstrongs. (ahem)

My first response was “This is why good people turn libertarian.” Upon reflection, that’s my second response, too.

P.S. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on government websites recently. Did you ever notice how many have a “For Kids” section? I really hope that there’s some teacher, somewhere, getting some use out of Energy Ant.

P.P.S. I’ve just defended the Bush Administration from a Democratic attack, and pushed for spending discipline. Why won’t the right reach out and engage a moderate like me? What I’ve noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the left link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the right link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you’re evil/stupid/crazy, and don’t even seem to notice all the times you’ve written posts that take their side. Why is this happening? I find it terribly, terribly sad, and in no way transparently self-serving.

WHAT’S MORE: The point of that last paragraph isn’t necessarily obvious if you don’t already live inside my head, which relatively few people do.

To be more straightforward, I’m not at all irritated with any lack of approving links from right-of-center bloggers. I think that’s just the way of the world. Rather, I’m poking fun at Professor Althouse and the alleluia chorus surrounding the post that I’ve linked to in the last sentence. It seems to me that Althouse is starting with the assumption that, since she is at the center of political discourse, any asymmetrical treatment that she recieves from the right and left blogosphere must be due to the personality and intellectual flaws of liberals. I think that the asymmetrical treatment is better explained by the perception that she’s a moderate conservative, and I’d point to her self-placement in the Conservative Blog Advertising Network and her pleasure at being named a Conservative Blog Diva, and her own asymmetrical concern about national security leaks, as evidence.

This is not to minimize the pleasure of the links from right-of-center blogs, which I do greatly appreciate.

US vs EU, Round XXVIII

by John Quiggin on February 14, 2006

Fareed Zakaria has yet another piece on the inevitable decline of Europe. In it, he makes the claim

Talk to top-level scientists and educators about the future of scientific research and they will rarely even mention Europe. There are areas in which it is world class, but they are fewer than they once were. In the biomedical sciences, for example, Europe is not on the map.

High energy physics, anyone? Western European output of scientific papers surpassed that of the US about 10 years ago and the gap is still widening. The US is relatively stronger in biomedical research than in the physical sciences, but Europe has caught up there as well. The loss of the US lead in science is sufficiently widely-accepted that proposed responses made it into Bush’s State of the Union speech.

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Turnabout is Fair Play II

by Kieran Healy on February 14, 2006

Accidents happen. But the various responses (official and unofficial) being put forth on Cheney’s behalf get ever more weird. They include: (1) Whittington didn’t get a shotgun blast in the face, he was merely “peppered”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/13/AR2006021300452.html with a “pellet gun”:http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007677.php. (2) Cheney has “paid his seven bucks”:http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008219.php. (This seems to be the only official response from the Vice President’s office so far.) (3) No need for a statement from Cheney saying he feels terrible about what happened, because Whittington has already accepted responsibility for the accident. It was totally his fault. (4) Besides, why should “anyone have been interested”:http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2006/02/mcclellan_grill.html that the Vice President of the United States shot someone in the face? I mean, (5) “People get shot in the face all the time”:http://powerlineblog.com/archives/013138.php while out hunting, and you’d know it if you weren’t a liberal, east-coast, latte-drinking effete snob.

Prize for most bizarre exculpatory counterfactual goes to (6) “If Cheney had been trout fishing and a companion had walked behind him as he started to cast, so that “he inadvertently snagged his friend”:http://tbogg.blogspot.com/2006/02/warning-innate-ignorance-ahead-least.html, resulting in a hospital visit, would we have seen this kind of frenzy? I don’t think so.” The counterfactual _I_ have in mind is a bit more relevant: what if it were Whittington who had shot– er, sprayed — _Cheney_ in the face, in an otherwise identical fashion? How would things be playing out amongst the VP’s defenders? Would they be blaming him for being stupid enough to walk into a hail of shotgun pellets? Do you think we’d have seen no more than a quick photo of Whittington “skulking back home”:http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2006/02/still_more_ques.html, with no word of apology or expression of embarrassed regret? Do you think Cheney would be accepting responsibility for the accident from his ICU bed?

This scallops dish is a lovely special dinner for two. It’s fast, delicious and impressive. It requires two pans (you’ll likely be happier if one is a non-nonstick 12-inch pan) and a few unusual ingredients, but nothing special-ordered. If you can stir, and you can measure out three minutes, you can make this. As a bonus, it leaves you with an open bottle of champagne to drink with dinner.

Reproduced from memory from the highly-recommended Les Halles Cookbook.
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Rubel on privacy and the Patriot Act

by Harry on February 14, 2006

I see via Larry Solum (an indirect route if ever there was one) that Alan Rubel has posted his paper “Privacy and the USA Patriot Act: Rights, the Value of Rights, and Autonomy” (forthcoming in Law and Philosophy) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

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100 most dangerous….

by Harry on February 14, 2006

Via Brian Leiter I see that David Horowitz has produced a list of the 100 most dangerous professors in the US. As with any such list, everyone will quibble with the details, but I shan’t insult any of the winners by suggesting they should be demoted. Brian congratulates philosophers Alison Jaggar (Colorado) and Lewis Gordon (Temple), to which I add my own particularly to Anatole Anton (SFSU) and to my former colleague Bob McChesney (Communications, Illinois). But jolly good show, all of you; keep up the good work! (And don’t drink and drive or play with guns — those activities actually are dangerous).

(Update: I’ve changed the link to the list, because I couldn’t get the other one to work. The original link is semi-available through Leiter).

If my daddy could see me now –- chains around my feet

by Chris Bertram on February 14, 2006

I m pleased to see that “Norman Geras is linking”:http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2006/02/going_over_yond.html to “an interesting essay by David Carithers on Steve Earle”:http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/fall_2005/carithers.htm . The essay links Earle to the pragmatic tradition, and especially to Emerson. Though the essay verges on the pretentious, it is certainly worth a look. As Geras mentions:

bq. Section II of Carithers’ essay is about Earle’s opposition to the death penalty. He discusses two of his powerful songs on the subject, ‘Billy Austin’ from The Hard Way, and ‘Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song)’ from Transcendental Blues.

As Geras doesn’t mention, section III of the essay is about John Walker’s Blues, Earle’s disturbing meditation on the fate of the 19-year-old John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban”. If I recall correctly, Earle’s own son was the same age at the time, a fact that gave Earle a different perpective on the calls for vengeance and retribution that were widespread after Lindh’s capture.