by Kieran Healy on August 8, 2007

All this harshing on Michael Ignatieff for his ponderous, air-filled essay on Iraq reminded me of a characterization of him I’d read a few years ago. I couldn’t remember the source, only the phrase. But Google remembers:

bq. The staff of BBC2’s late Late Show used to have a little joke about one of its presenters, Michael Ignatieff. Everyone knows what an idiot savant is: someone who appears to be an idiot but in fact is a wise man. Well, Ignatieff was a savant idiot.

Yes, I know that’s not really what an idiot savant is, but you get the point.

Welfare and Race

by Henry Farrell on August 8, 2007

From Glenn Loury’s “excellent article”:http://www.bostonreview.net/BR32.4/loury.html in the new _Boston Review_ on why there are so many people in US prisons, and why so many of these people are black.

… something interesting seems to have been going on in the late 1960s regarding the relationship between attitudes on race and social policy. Before 1965, public attitudes on the welfare state and on race, as measured by the annually administered General Social Survey, varied year to year independently of one another: you could not predict much about a person’s attitudes on welfare politics by knowing their attitudes about race. After 1965, the attitudes moved in tandem, as welfare came to be seen as a race issue. Indeed, the year-to-year correlation between an index measuring liberalism of racial attitudes and attitudes toward the welfare state over the interval 1950–1965 was .03. These same two series had a correlation of .68 over the period 1966–1996.

Happy July 4th

by Harry on August 8, 2007

Late, I know. But I thought I’d wish it, and provide a link to my recent radio appearance (with Daniel Schor, no less) on Here on Earth (July 4th show here). They asked me to talk about patriotism, in the light of the recent (and very surprising — I was shocked anyway) revelations that the CIA has sometimes engaged in nefarious activities in pursuit of the national interest. The question was “how can one be patriotic if one’s country has done such terrible things?” I have written abut the impropriety of promoting patriotism and national sentiment generally, so it was curious to be talking about the conditions on a morally clean patriotism, and in fact I drew extensively on Eamonn Callan’s recent paper “Love, Idolatory, and Patriotism” (PDF) (obviously in the vernacular). I was caught off guard by the presenter starting me off by asking me to respond to a caller who had said something especially irritating, and I was excessively harsh in response, but hope that I pulled back enough to seem more reasonable.

Sherman on war

by John Q on August 8, 2007

Not so long ago, in a discussion on Iraq the question came up of what various people would have predicted at the outset of the US Civil War. It seemed to me that all with the possible exception of Sherman, would have grossly underestimated the length and bloodiness of the war, and that all would have predicted easy victory for their side. Of course, rather than speculate, I should have checked Wikipedia. Fortunately, William Tecumseh Sherman was the featured article yesterday, and includes Sherman’s judgement.

You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing!

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