A Green Light to Spy on Americans? Nonsense. (11/25/02) new
By Heather Mac Donald in City Journal
The FISA standard for wiretapping Americans remains as high after the review court ruling as before: to get a wiretap warrant for an American terror suspect, the government must show not only that he is an “agent of a foreign power” but that he is “knowingly engaged in international terrorism.” The government may not base its case for a warrant by citing activities protected by the First Amendment. Nothing in the ruling changes that demanding standard. The fact that prosecutors and FBI criminal agents can now share their expertise with intelligence agents during the course of an investigation, or even instigate a wiretap request, does not alter the legal standard that that wiretap request must meet. “Ordinary Americans” are as protected from groundless surveillance after the decision as before.
Targeting Terrorists... not privacy. (11/25/02) new
By Michael Scardaville at National Review Online
The key to the program — both in terms of its effectiveness and its potential to gain acceptance from the millions of Americans who rightly worry about privacy and erosion of civil liberties — is to limit its use to detecting terrorists and preventing future attacks. That means the FBI, the CIA and the soon-to-be-created Department of Homeland Security intelligence arm. It does not mean state and local law enforcement or even those who wish to use it for causes such as aviation security and health surveillance — monitoring for epidemics and biological warfare, etc. Americans must be able to trust that extremely few people will have access to these capabilities and that the punishment for misuse will be severe.
These Victims Are People, Too: What hate crimes have wrought. (11/26/02) new
By Rod Dreher at National Review Online
The media dont tell us what to believe, but they do set the terms of public discussion. The narrative model that insists Christians can never be victims of bigotry, violent or otherwise, will ultimately have consequences beyond merely angering pious readers and viewers. In Canada, Christians are having their freedom of speech and worship taken away by hate-speech laws designed to protect homosexuals from having their feelings hurt. Meanwhile, incidents like the radical feminist trashing of Montreals Roman Catholic cathedral a couple of years ago (they even threw condoms and soiled tampons at the altar, and burned crosses on the cathedral steps) not only merited little comment in Canadas press, it didnt move the Canadian authorities to file anything stronger than minor trespassing charges. Prosecutors said the event didnt trigger the countrys hate-crimes law.
Beauty Pageants Can Be Murder (11/27/02) new
By Ann Coulter at AnnCoulter.Org
The New York Times cant bear to think that their little darlings angry, violent Muslims could be at fault in this melee. That makes no sense because Islam is a Religion of Peace. So the Times reviewed the facts, processed it through the PC prism, and spat out the headline: Religious Violence in Nigeria Drives Out Miss World Event. According to the Times, rampaging Muslims pouring out of mosques to kill Christians and torch churches resulted from the tinderbox of religious passions in the country. Islam is peaceful, but religion causes violence. Pay no attention to the fact that the most bloodthirsty cult in the 20th century was an atheistic sect known as communism. But that was not true communism, just as Muslim terrorists are not practicing true Islam. The ironic thing is, liberals would hate Muslims who practiced only true Islam. Without the terrorism, Muslims would just be another group of anti-choice fanatics.
Testing speech codes (11/27/02) new
By Alan M. Dershowitz in The Boston Globe
Or consider the case of the anti-Semitic poet Amiri Baraka who claims that neo-fascist Israel had advance knowledge of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and warned Israelis to stay away. This lie received a standing ovation, according to The Boston Globe, from black students at Wellesley last week. Baraka had been invited to deliver his hate speech by Nubian, a black student organization, and paid an honorarium with funds provided by several black organizations. Would those who are advocating restrictions on speech include these hateful and offensive lies in their prohibitions? If not, would they seek to distinguish them from other words that should be prohibited? These are fair questions that need to be answered before anyone goes further down the dangerous road to selective censorship based on perceived offensiveness. Clever people can always come up with distinctions that put their cases on the prohibited side of the line and other peoples cases on the permitted side of the line.
Is Harvard ditching free speech? (11/27/02) new
By Scot Lehigh in The Boston Globe
Civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate, cofounder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, says the groups research has determined that more than 90 percent of colleges and universities have adopted behavior codes prohibiting offensive speech if it touches on matters of race, sexual orientation, or gender. Why no sustained outcry from the faculties? They dont consider that to be a free speech issue because it is imposed by the academic left, and the academic left is an authoritarian movement, not one of genuine liberalism, Silverglate, himself a liberal, observes. The demand for protection from offensive speech highlights both a lack of clarity and an absence of confidence on the part of faculty and students.
No Hate Speech at Harvard (11/14/02) new
By The Staff of The Harvard Crimson
Harvard is an open academic community dedicated to the vigorous exchange of ideas. The freedom of speech is absolutely central to the University’s mission. But Harvard has no obligation to encourage hate speech, speech that explicitly incites ethnic violence. Such speakers have no place in a community based on respect and tolerance, and for that reason, the English department was right to ask Irish poet Tom Paulin not to give the Morris Gray Lecture.... Paulin is certainly entitled to express his own opinions—and of course, extremely critical views of Israel should not preclude him from speaking at Harvard, on that subject or any other. Whether or not he believes in the right of a Jewish state to exist is irrelevant to a discussion of epic poetry, the original subject of his lecture. But when the English department learned that he advocated killing civilians and considered the Israeli military a modern-day incarnation of the SS, the content of his poetry became immaterial.
In About-Face, English Dept. Re-Invites Anti-Israeli Poet (11/20/02) new
In The Harvard Crimson by Alexander J. Blenkinsopp
Concerned about the message it was sending on free speech, the English department yesterday renewed the invitation it cancelled just one week ago to Tom Paulin, an award-winning Irish poet who has expressed violently anti-Israeli views. English department chair Lawrence Buell said the department’s faculty met last night for two and a half hours and voted to re-invite Paulin. The vote, which was unanimous apart from two abstentions, marks a reversal of an earlier decision by a smaller group of English professors to cancel the speech.
Bestowing An Undue Honor (11/21/02) new
By The Staff of The Harvard Crimson
Paulin’s statements in Al-Aram newspaper make it perfectly clear that his vision of a solution to the Middle East conflict is one in which “Nazi, racist” Brooklyn-born settlers are “shot dead.” Despite Paulin’s claims that his views in Al-Aram were not fully reflective of his stance, he has not retracted his remarks. By inviting Paulin to speak, the English department has implicitly legitimized him as one worthy of recognition by the College and its students, poetry and politics alike. Regardless of his contributions to the field of poetry, we would hope that the department would be more judicious in its invitations and withold them from figures who advocate violence.
Keillors tantrum shows disdain for Minnesotans (11/27/02) new
By Gary Larson in The Star Tribune
Keillors histrionics show a disdain for Minnesotans. He is a stranger with memories of people I knew there. Estrangement is complete. Most backwoods lake and prairie folk like us in rural Minnesota idiots all? voted for the Republican he despises. To this apostasy a smug Keillor shrugs: To my own shame, I knew them. Im ashamed of Minnesota for electing this cheap fraud. Thus he crowns his new hate object; Hollow Man succeeds The Body as prime target for his egotistical wrath. Sore losers are exposed in stressful situations. Crybabies lash out, poisoning the landscape. (This affliction strikes both left and right.) Keillor asserts GOPers are cheap, cynical and unpatriotic, and Republicans first, and Americans second.
A Letter From the Boss Contradicts Foxs Creed (11/19/02)
By Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times
The revelation that Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, the self-proclaimed fair and balanced news channel, secretly gave advice to the White House after the Sept. 11 attacks was less shocking than it was liberating — a little like the moment in 1985 when an ailing Rock Hudson finally explained that he had AIDS. Ever since Mr. Ailes changed jobs from Republican strategist to news executive, he has demanded to be treated as an unbiased journalist, not a conservative spokesman. But the cable channel he controls has an undisguised ideological agenda, which has made his protestations a bit puzzling.
Attack on Fox News reeks of hypocrisy (11/24/02)
By Sterling Rome in The Boston Herald
That the Times, the bastion of political correctness and diversity, would choose to print an analogy like this is proof of both its hypocrisy and its thinly veiled contempt. Never mind that the Times is comparing a political ideology to a deadly disease; it is doing so at the expense of a homosexual man who died a tragic death. Such an analogy by anyone else (most especially anyone from the right) would normally result in a flurry of op-eds and demands for termination from the Times.
Empty victory for a hollow man: How Norm Coleman sold his soul for a Senate seat. (11/07/02)
By Garrison Keillor at Salon via TCPUNK
It was a dreadful low moment for the Minnesota voters. To choose Coleman over Walter Mondale is one of those dumb low-rent mistakes, like going to a great steakhouse and ordering the tuna sandwich. But I dont envy someone whos sold his soul. Hes condemned to a life of small arrangements. There will be no passion, no joy, no heroism, for him. He is a hollow man. The next six years are not going to be kind to Norm.
Minnesotas shame: Republicans dont like my criticism? Too bad.... (11/13/02)
By Garrison Keillor at Salon via Twin Cities Independent Media Center
The hoots and cackles of Republicans reacting to my screed against Norman Coleman, the ex-radical, former Democratic, now compassionate conservative senator-elect from Minnesota, was all to be expected, given the state of the Republican Party today. Its entire ideology, top to bottom, is We-are-not-Democrats, We-are-the-unClinton, and if it can elect an empty suit like Coleman, on a campaign as cheap and cynical and unpatriotic as what he waged right up to the moment Paul Wellstones plane hit the ground, then Republicans are perfectly content. They are Republicans first and Americans second.
Woebegone in Minnesota? (11/12/02)
By Bruce C. Sanborn at The Claremont Institute
Garrison Keillor grew up in small-town Minnesota. In the column he wrote for Salon (the one in which he shot those insults at Coleman and Minnesotans) Keillor engaged in a small-town practice he professes to hate. Keillor treated gossip as political commentary: St. Paul is a small town and anybody who hangs around the St. Paul Grill knows about Norms habits. Everyone knows that his family situation is, shall we say, very interesting, but nobody bothered to ask about it, least of all the religious people in the Republican Party. They made their peace with hypocrisy long ago. In more than one way, Keillors gossip is hypocritical, and his behavior may well bother Minnesotans and fair-minded Democrats. Keillor also asserted Coleman won his Senate seat because he was well-financed and well-packaged. To be sure, in his debate with Mondale, Coleman had President Bushs arguments down pat. Against the backdrop of the Democrats jumbotron political frenzy at the memorial rally for Paul Wellstone, Coleman delivered those arguments impressively and respectfully, as Mondale presented the Democrats forcefully and a bit patronizingly.
Sing Goddess of the Wrath of Garrison: The Limits of Leftist Humor Get Narrow (11/21/02)
By Bruce C. Sanborn at The Claremont Institute
Certainly, its possible Keillor wants to rally liberal Democrats after virtually nothing came up roses for them on election day. Keillor calculated that irony and humor would not rouse their passions the way a hot-blooded jeremiad would. Hed slam and damn Coleman — and the Republicans, too, for backing him all the way. Hed say the Republicans got in a car named Unpatriotic, cynically left Main Street, drove right past Fiscal Responsibility Avenue, and then, foul to the core, drove over the hearts of all the people who cared about America and about the Americans who died on 9/11 — and to their eternal shame, Minnesotans rewarded the Republicans with the election; thats what hed say; thats what he said.... That then may explain what Keillor was up to in writing Minnesotas shame, but of course if it does, what must Keillor think of his fellow Democrats — I mean if he calculated that with them he should play the demagogue?
Was Paul Wellstone Murdered? (10/28/02)
By Michael I. Niman at AlterNet
There is no indication today that Wellstones death was the result of foul play. What we do know, however, is that Wellstone emerged as the most visible obstacle standing in the way of a draconian political agenda by an unelected government. And now he is conveniently gone. For our government to maintain its credibility at this time, we need an open and accountable independent investigation involving international participation into the death of Paul Wellstone. Hopefully we will find out, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this was indeed an untimely accident. For the sake of our country, we need to know this.
Hey, Roeper! I was right (11/24/02)
By Mark Steyn in The Chicago Sun-Times
Calling for an international inquiry into his [Wellstones] death, Niman does not directly accuse the president [Bush] but the only guys he seems to think would have any motive for offing Wellstone are those for whom the idealistic senator had emerged as the most visible obstacle standing in the way of a draconian political agenda by an unelected government. And now he is conveniently gone. I dont know why Niman is suddenly so sheepish. If hes not implying that Wellstone was killed by forces linked to the unelected government, perhaps he could enlighten us as to what precise point his column was making. Heres the thing: Ted Rall, Barbra Streisand and Niman reckon theres something fishy about the Wellstone crash for no other reason than that a left-wing man is dead and a right-wing governments in power.
on Election 2002 (11/08/02)
By Bill Moyers at PBS
And for the first time in the memory of anyone alive, the entire
federal government — the Congress, the Executive, the Judiciary — is united
behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has
a mandate. That mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant
women to give up control over their own lives. It includes using the taxing
power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It includes
giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control
the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes
secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with
a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court
that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over whats
coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture.
These folks dont even mind you referring to the GOP as the party
of God. Why else would the new House Majority Leader say that the Almighty
is using him to promote a Biblical worldview in American politics?
So it is a heady time in Washington — a heady time for piety, profits,
and military power, all joined at the hip by ideology and money.
Day After (11/06/02)
By Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive
The landscape this November 6 is barren. The Democrats managed to
lose the Senate, and now the Republicans will have their way. They will
be able to clog the benches with rightwing judges, cement Bushs
retrograde tax cuts, and roll back environmental, labor, and a host of
other protections.... If the Democrats are to give themselves a fighting
chance to win, and if they are going to stand as the party of the people,
they had better start appealing to the poor, people of color, and the
majority of Americans who didnt show up at the polls November 5.
A huge majority of Americans want a raise in the minimum wage. A huge
majority of Americans believe that corporations have too much power. A
huge majority of Americans identify health care as one of their top concerns.
A huge majority of Americans want the environment protected, and a decent,
affordable education for their kids. The Democrats ought to be able to
say: Well give you a big raise, well give you free health
care, well give your kids a free college education, well curb
corporate power and take the money out of politics, and well clean
up the environment while were at it.
dark week for democracy (11/10/02)
By Will Hutton at Guardian Unlimited Observer
Nor do the Conservatives ambitions stop there. Following the
ideas of the high priest of ultra conservatism, Leo Strauss, they want
to construct a republic of moral, god-fearing citizens who
adhere to traditional virtues, rewarding the rich who can only have become
rich through the virtue of hard work and penalising the poor who are only
poor because of their own fecklessness. Above all, by now having the opportunity
to pack the judiciary with extreme right-wing judges, they intend to do
away with the famous Roe v Wade judgment that legalised abortion. This
is the most fiercely reactionary programme to have emerged in any Western
democracy since the war, and for which last Tuesdays vote, argue
Republicans, is an explicit mandate.... But the game isnt up. Americas
conservatives, blinded by their ideology and in control of every lever
of government, will overreach themselves and the reality of what they
plan will become evident to all, stirring the apathetic voter and reminding
the best of America what it stands for. Last week represented the highwater
mark of American conservatism and, although it looks bleak, the beginnings
of the long-awaited liberal revival. Not just the United States, but the
world, needs it badly. In the meantime, despite its flaws, give thanks
to the European Union for partial shelter from the conservative storm.
Boy More Fear And Gluttony: Darkness falls across the land, flowers
wilt, the GOP takes full, and frightening, control (11/08/02)
By Mark Morford at The San Francisco Gate
Feel that numbness? That strange slightly chilling shift deep in
the heart, like a cold wind across the blood, an ice pick straight to
the third eye, fingernails across the karmic chalkboard? Fear not
its just the dark storm clouds of sadness and savage spiritual pain
that just settled in over the collective soul of the country and indeed
much of the world recently, as the Republican Party snatched total control
of the American government and really honestly promised to further its
agenda of fear and war and intolerance and bad sex and more petroleum
products forevermore.... Let us not also forget anti-choice misogyny,
racism, gluttony, support for Big Agribiz and Big Tobacco and a general
antipathy toward anyone who makes less than six figures or who really
cares about the environment or enjoys true religious freedom or alternative
viewpoints or authentic orgasms or honest laughter.
sees rights eroding under GOP (11/14/02)
In The Washington Times by Steve Miller
American blacks face the end of civil rights under the new Republican-controlled
Congress, and need to force the Democratic Party further to the left as
a remedy, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other liberal black leaders said
yesterday at a voter-participation forum. Last weeks results positions
us to see the end of the second Reconstruction, said Mr. Jackson
in a conference at the National Press Club. Next year, the right
wing is going to control the White House, the House, the Senate and the
courts virtually every civil rights remedy will be made illegal next year,
the two-time former Democratic presidential hopeful predicted.
Letter to the Editor by Russell Rimovsky in The Lincoln
The dictatorship begins as the diabolical Republican party rises
to power. We will see senior citizens shivering, begging for food, and
dying a tortuous death after George W. Bush shoves them into the streets.
Hospitals and care facilities will suffer neglect as the attention to
health care is diverted by the worship of war. Calamity inevitably abounds.
Terrorists will unleash horror as weve never seen before, because
the warmongering dictator, George W. Bush, will now have his way, and
the terrorists are really going to get mad at us now. Pollution will proliferate
and thousands will perish by poisoning through our food, water and air.
The delicate environment will deteriorate before our very eyes. Children,
especially black children, will starve in our schools. Schools? What am
I saying? There wont be any schools.
Letter to the Editor by Russell Rimovsky in The Lincoln
I received a vast amount of feedback regarding my Nov. 8 letter,
Dictatorship begins. With that letter, I made foes of my friends,
and friends of my foes, which was a risk I was willing to take in the
pursuit of displaying the absurdity of the Liberal Democrat agenda. The
summation of the column was, now that the Republicans have arisen to the
distinct power they will soon enjoy while leading the House, Senate and
White House, the nation will plummet into violent oblivion. The intent
of the letter was to reveal the absurdity of the liberal perspective,
by energetically portraying it. In other words, the letter was unapologetically
Occasionally, some links are moved
from this section into the Featured
Vicious Stereotypes in Polite Society (1991) new
By Douglas Laycock in Constitutional Commentary
Among the educated classes that have been most sensitized to the dangers of the most widely condemned stereotypes, other stereotypes and prejudices flourish. Respected academics and journalists, and respected journals who pride themselves on their tolerance, publish extraordinary statements about groups that have generally failed to engage the sympathies of intellectuals.... Many of us probably most of us have acted on unstated and unexamined assumptions that would be as offensive as these if we committed them to print without the veil of euphemisms. Printed or unprinted, flagrant or veiled, these stereotypes are corrosive of the social fabric. The only way to resist is to highlight them and to sensitize ourselves to them. One group that can still be safely insulted is the seriously religious. Fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Catholics remain fair game in many circles. Michael Smith has collected numerous antireligious passages in Supreme Court opinions, one of them a quotation from an anti-Catholic hate tract. Suzanna Sherry, writing in the Michigan Law Review, equated fundamentalist legislators with racist school boards: There are still racist school boards in a nation that generally finds racism intolerable, fundamentalist legislators in a nation that rejects a national religion, and so on. The skillful parallelism of the sentence packs powerful implications. Fundamentalism is parallel to racism as a threat to constitutional values; fundamentalists oppose the consensus against a national religion just as racists oppose the consensus against racism. If Professor Sherry knows that fundamentalist legislators are protected by the test oath clause, she gives no hint of it. If she knows that few fundamentalists want a national religion, she gives no hint of that either.
Role of Government in Education (1955)
By Milton Friedman in Economics and the Public Interest
This re-examination of the role of government in education suggests
that the growth of governmental responsibility in this area has been unbalanced.
Government has appropriately financed general education for citizenship,
but in the process it has been led also to administer most of the schools
that provide such education. Yet, as we have seen, the administration
of schools is neither required by the financing of education, nor justifiable
in its own right in a predominantly free enterprise society. Government
has appropriately been concerned with widening the opportunity of young
men and women to get professional and technical training, but it has sought
to further this objective by the inappropriate means of subsidizing such
education, largely in the form of making it available free or at a low
price at governmentally operated schools. The lack of balance in governmental
activity reflects primarily the failure to separate sharply the question
what activities it is appropriate for government to finance from
the question what activities it is appropriate for government to administer
a distinction that is important in other areas of government activity
as well. Because the financing of general education by government is widely
accepted, the provision of general education directly by govern mental
bodies has also been accepted. But institutions that provide general education
are especially well suited also to provide some kinds of vocational and
professional education, so the acceptance of direct government provision
of general education has led to the direct provision of vocational education.
To complete the circle, the provision of vocational education has, in
turn, meant that it too was financed by government, since financing has
been predominantly of educational institutions not of particular kinds
of educational services.
to Graduates About Advice (06/06/1971)
By Edward C. Banfield at Claremont McKenna College
Figures of speech, especially metaphors, are peculiarly serviceable
to people who give advice about social problems. The use of them tends
to create an emotional response in the listener that enhances the urgency
of the problem thus raising the value of the putative solution
that the advice-giver offers. I sometimes wonder if we could have an urban
crisis without a good supply of metaphors. Suppose that a writer
could not speak of decaying neighborhoods but instead had
to say what he meant straight out say that the well-off have moved
away from aging unfashionable neighborhoods, that this has given the less
well-off opportunities to move into housing better than they formerly
had, and that they, for obvious reasons, are in most instances disposed
to spend less on the repair and maintenance of houses than the former
occupiers were. Or suppose that a United States Senator instead of saying,
as one recently did, that the cities are mortally sick and getting
sicker and that the states are in a state of chronic crisis
had to speak plainly in this instance, perhaps, to say that although
in the last decade the cities and states have increased their revenues
by a factor of three, there are nevertheless many voters who would like
to have more spent, provided of course that the taxes are paid mainly
End of History? (Summer 1989)
By Francis Fukuyama in The National Interest
The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of
all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western
liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in
the intellectual climate of the worlds two largest communist countries,
and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon
extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable
spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the
peasants markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout
China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past
year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and
the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran. What we may
be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a
particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such:
that is, the end point of mankinds ideological evolution and the
universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human
government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to
fill the pages of Foreign Affairss yearly summaries
of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred
primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete
in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing
that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.
Explosion of Green (Apr. 1995)
By Bill McKibben in The Atlantic
In the early nineteenth century the cleric Timothy Dwight reported
that the 240-mile journey from Boston to New York City passed through
no more than twenty miles of forest. Surveying the changes wrought by
farmers and loggers in New Hampshire, he wrote, The forests are
not only cut down, but there appears little reason to hope that they will
ever grow again. Less than two centuries later, despite great increases
in the states population, 90 percent of New Hampshire is covered
by forest. Vermont was 35 percent woods in 1850 and is 80 percent today,
and even Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have seen woodlands
rebound to the point where they cover nearly three fifths of southern
New England. This process, which began as farmers abandoned the cold and
rocky pastures of the East for the fertile fields of the Midwest, has
not yet run its course.... This unintentional and mostly unnoticed renewal
of the rural and mountainous East not the spotted owl, not the
salvation of Alaskas pristine ranges represents the great
environmental story of the United States, and in some ways of the whole
world. Here, where suburb and megalopolis were
added to the worlds vocabulary, an explosion of green is under way,
one that could offer hope to much of the rest of the planet.
Doomslayer (Feb. 1997)
By Ed Regis in Wired
The world is getting progressively poorer, and its all because
of population, or more precisely, overpopulation. Theres
a finite store of resources on our pale blue dot, spaceship Earth, our
small and fragile tiny planet, and were fast approaching its ultimate
carrying capacity. The limits to growth are finally upon us, and were
living on borrowed time. The laws of population growth are inexorable.
Unless we act decisively, the final result is written in stone: mass poverty,
famine, starvation, and death. Time is short, and we have to act now.
Thats the standard and canonical litany.... Theres just one
problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every
item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is
false.... Thus saith The Doomslayer, one Julian
L. Simon, a neither shy nor retiring nor particularly mild-mannered
professor of business administration at a middling eastern-seaboard state
university. Simon paints a somewhat different picture of the human condition
circa 1997. Our species is better off in just about every measurable
material way, he says. Just about every important long-run
measure of human material welfare shows improvement over the decades and
centuries, in the United States and the rest of the world. Raw materials
all of them have become less scarce rather than more. The
air in the US and in other rich countries is irrefutably safer to breathe.
Water cleanliness has improved. The environment is increasingly healthy,
with every prospect that this trend will continue.
A brilliant parody:
the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
By Alan Sokal in Social Text
There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who
continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social
and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps
peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the
idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt
in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed
by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual
outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists
an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual
human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are
encoded in eternal physical laws; and that human beings can
obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws
by hewing to the objective procedures and epistemological
strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.
... and, in explanation, ...
Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies (May/June 1996)
By Alan Sokal in Lingua Franca
For some years Ive been troubled by an apparent decline in
the standards of rigor in certain precincts of the academic humanities.
But Im a mere physicist: If I find myself unable to make heads or
tails of jouissance and differance, perhaps that just reflects
my own inadequacy. So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards,
I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment:
Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies whose
editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew
Ross publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it
sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors ideological preconceptions?
The answer, unfortunately, is yes.... Whats going on here? Could
the editors really not have realized that my article was written as a
Need a Reality Check: A firsthand account of liberal bias at CBS News.
By Bernard Goldbert in The Wall Street Journal
There are lots of reasons fewer people are watching network news,
and one of them, Im more convinced than ever, is that our viewers
simply dont trust us. And for good reason. The old argument that
the networks and other media elites have a liberal bias is
so blatantly true that its hardly worth discussing anymore. No,
we dont sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how were
going to slant the news. We dont have to. It comes naturally to
is No Time, There Will Be Time (11/18/1998)
By Peggy Noonan in Forbes ASAP
When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage... when you
think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries... who do they
hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What is its most important
place? Some would say Washington. I would say the great city of the United
States is the great city of the world, the dense 10-mile-long island called
Manhattan, where the economic and media power of the nation resides, the
city that is the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism,
our creativity, our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance.