Tuesday, June 18, 2002

GIDDY LONDON, IS IT HOME OF THE FREE OR WHAT?: So The Rat and I are gonna hit the sceptred isle for a week in late July. ("Will it hit back?") We found a super hotel-and-airfare deal, so off we go. If anyone has suggestions for unusual fun to be had in London/the English countryside, email me; I'd especially like suggestions on good churches in London. (By which I mean, Mass celebrated reverently, not pretty buildings--I figure it shouldn't be too hard to find the lovely architecture. Kensington Road area would be best.)

And TOMORROW I AM SPEAKING ON A PANEL ABOUT BLOGS. (Sorry to shout. As long as my archives are screwed up I don't want to do too many separate posts.) Speaking will be Stan Evans of the National Journalism Center, journalist and blogger Joshua Micah Marshall (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/), and up-and-coming me. Also joining us will be Noah Shachtman who recently wrote a piece on blogging for Wired News. Attorney and blogger Gene Healy (http://www.genehealy.com/) will moderate. The event will take place at the Fund for American Studies (1706 New Hampshire Ave., NW). Drinks will begin at 7:00 p.m., with dinner and discussion following at 7:30. Please RSVP to jerry@americasfuture.org. I've been to these things in the past--fun crowd.

Meanwhile, I'm still up to my eyeballs in work. Why don't you look here, here, here, or here instead?

My new motto, by the way, is: INVINCIBLE ROBOTS CANNOT SUCCEED!!! Click here to learn more.

Tomorrow, if I can dig myself out from under my work, I plan to post on authority vs. individuality; Cardinal Law and the Good People; Agatha Christie. Later in the week: What I said about blogs; men without countries; postmodernism and contradiction. Someday, when I have what we in the business call "time," the blogwatch will return. Don't worry--am not pulling a Lindsey--but must spend a few days immersed in the sublime joy of state budget deficits.

Monday, June 17, 2002

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED that my $#@! archives are $#@! missing. I have already tried the interesting but useless suggestion at the PublicMind Blogger site. If people have other fun ideas I will give them a whirl. Argh. ("Move off BlogSpot" does not count as a fun idea, by the way.)

[edited to add that work is uber-hectic today, so I don't think I'll be able to post anything. Sorry--regular posting will resume as soon as possible--Amy Welborn is blogging like a mad thing--here's a Latin Mass in Vienna, VA--and here's a relevant Garfield cartoon--apologies again for light-to-nonexistent posting.]

Saturday, June 15, 2002

CAMP, HORROR, NO ESCAPE: So I read this while listening to this and this. My life is a sitcom. Anyway, yeah, grrrr, lame article. I would've given 'em a quote that would make their hair curl.
OTOH, he just failed to get Grenadine to float.

"Now you're very Sullivan-like." --Shamed
DON'T BE THIS BRILLIANT: Shamed notes that a new terrorist organization has been noted in the U.S.: al-Sharpton.

And he pointed out that we're both the same age as Garfield. Sara is closest.

Friday, June 14, 2002

THRILL OF THE CHASE: Actually, I could get really into this--because I HATE $#@!ING POP-UP ADS so much that I would take huge, huge glee in tracking them down and KILLING them. They cause my computer to crash on an average of once a day. (Admittedly this is partly my fault--I often have too many windows open, blah blah blah--but c'mon people. If we can put a man on the moon...) Anyway, this "search-and-destroy" pop-up sounds like good sick fun.

UO has other interesting stuff too, like: The confusing trail of Czechs mix.
THREE INTRIGUING INITIATIVES: A liberal arts core curriculum open to staff.

St. Luke Productions.

And my contest!

Click and feel the love.
ISRAEL FINAL FOR TODAY: Two points: First, saying that in 1948 Jews "should have gone to Brooklyn instead" ignored some basic realities about immigration--how many Jews would actually have gotten in? I alluded to this by saying that Israel was basically where Europeans (and Americans...) stuck Jews in order to get 'em out of their hair. Look how well that worked. But I didn't mean to sound quite so flippant about Jews' lousy options at the time.

Second, for those who believe that Jews have a right to a homeland because they have been persecuted in the countries where they tried to settle: Do you support a homeland for the Gypsies? Where would you, uh, put it?
ISRAEL MAILBAG: First, I should note that everyone who wrote in has been civil and thoughtful. No flames. I also note that I've been really lousy about answering email lately, so if you sent me something this week and I haven't responded, uh, well, you're not the only one. Work just heated up again and will be boiling away for another week at least; I will try to post quite a bit but email will fall by the wayside.

Here's the initial vast post. Here are the responses, with no commentary from me (I will comment later on some, but almost certainly not all, of these points):

Blogadder's final word.

A (satirical) suggestion from a permalinkless Talking Dog.

The Kairos Guy: "Okay, now, taking your arguments one at a time:

1) Illegit state. I'm basically with you, except you didn't mention that the only difference between Israel and EVERY ONE of her neighbors is that Israel created herself, rather than being imposed by the League of Nations. Strikes me that Israel's claims to legitimacy are that much stronger.

2) Settlements. The question of settlements is not as cut-and-dried as the NY Times would make it seem. But since you're prepared to let the entire issue slide, so am I.

3) Endangering Americans. This is a variation on Plato's question about goodness: Do the gods love something because it is good, or is it good because the gods love it? The Arabs don't hate us because of Israel, I believe, they hate Israel because of the US. If that is true, Americans are endangered already.

4) No reason. This argument assumes the conclusion, and so begs the question. (Hey, I finally used "begs the question" in its original, philosophical sense! Wahoo!)

1) Anti-semitic. I don't think you are automatically anti-semitic for questioning aid to Israel. But I do think there is a strong risk of anti-semitism, as my other emails said. One never has to justify support of France or Japan in quite the terms that one has to justify support of Israel. Is that in fact antisemitic? Let's just say I'm skeptical.

2) Always support... This is close to axiomatic to me, as close to a religious truth as I will admit to foreign policy. It seems to me that our long term interest is always served by this, even if in the short-term it presents risks. I have yet to hear a refutation of it that leaves my faith ragged. I'm not saying there is no such refutation, only that I have not heard of it.

3) We are stuck with them. Realpolitik is gritty and ugly. But I can't see a way to walk away from them for the near term.

The client state thing deserves its own treatment some time when I have more time."

More from The Talking Dog: "Actually, the legitimacy of the State of Israel is almost unique in the annals of world history; its establishment was mandated under a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly around 1947 (of course, the same United
Nations General Assembly that devotes somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of its time condemning Israel, and of course, the same United Nations with a refugee arm that supports, breeds, educates, and, probably trains, Palestinian suicide bombers). Israel then fought a MIRACULOUS war of independence (losing 1% of its Jewish population in the process) when all of its organized Arab neighbors took it on militarily. So, while the Jews could have had their homeland located in Uganda, as once proposed by the British; or Siberia, as proposed by Stalin, somehow, there would be dangers attached to that too: Jews have always lived in a tough world. It was understood that WHEREVER the Jewish state was located, it was going to be a powder keg. So it just happens to be where it is. But for the fact that its enemies sit on a black liquid that this country is addicted to, we would ignore its enemies as the modern day medieval $#@!holes (that haven't contributed anything to the world in centuries) that they are.

As to the stolen land argument, I daresay the occasional Navajo or Sioux might have better reason to question a certain other country's legitimacy than those of Palestinian Arab descent. There are land grabs, and then there are acts of genocide accompanied by land grabs. Israel can, at worst, be accused of the first one. The United States? Well, let's move on... Most--not all, but most-- so-called Palestinian refugees have recent ancestors who only showed up in Palestine from other parts of the Ottoman Empire at
around the same time as the Zionist interlopers for the enhanced opportunities offered by the Jews and their oppressive Western health, sanitation, education, infrastructure and economic standards.

As to your personal background, mine is similar, my father and brother are Jewish as well (as are my mother, sister, wife and daughter, but I digress). As you know, under the Nuremberg laws, your status was "close enough" for a one way train ride, as is mine, of course. While Jews are certainly subject to an unfortunate level of violence against them in Israel these days, we as a people, alas, have a lengthy historical memory of persecution. I daresay a typical year or two of pogroms in Bielorussia and Ukraine would have racked up comparable numbers to the Intifada--without a mighty Jewish air force and military apparatus present to impose
punishing (though sadly, not completely deterring) retaliation. So, I respectfully dissent from this argument, as well. Hell, if my choice were to live in Israel, or France, right now, I'm not sure I wouldn't take Israel. It would certainly win out over Russia.

I agree with you (obviously) on the Supporting Israel endangers Americans fallacy. Arab elites, alas, are simple (though hopelessly corrupt) people: they respect power, the more rawly displayed, the better. Frankly, what is endangering Americans is our support of ARAB regimes, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, whose gratitude is expressed by sending us acts of terrorism. And of course, we suffer from the catastrophic and insane act of weakness displayed by 41 when he (1) wouldn't let Israel (here we go again!) retaliate
against Saddam directly (you know--they might have just taken him out and solved most of our problems), and (2) didn't take out Saddam himself, thus forcing us into a longstanding containment game, with no good outcome even possible.

Anyway, having more or less established Israel's (1) legitimacy, (2) benefit as a safe haven for the Jewish people and (3) real irrelevance in terms of the current threat faced by the United States, you come to the more interesting argument: is it a good investment?

I offer this. Unfortunately, we have seen how effective our own intelligence apparatus has been recently; perhaps 5 guys in the whole
freaking CIA who can read and understand Arabic, the third or fourth most prominent language in the world, and of course, the language of the most troublesome people in the world right now. Well, the Mossad and Shin Bet can read Arabic. And they can read tea leaves, and otherwise, act as a very effective intelligence source FOR US (which they are; yes, they spy on us; it is unfortunate that they see the need to do this-- I would have hoped by now that they would be like Canada, Australia and Britain, but then, we had
James Baker as Secretary of State, didn't we? Not to mention George Bush as CIA director, as well as president (twice)). On the whole, though, Americans are idiots with respect to world affairs. We need someone smart out there: Israel fits the bill perfectly, and for the most part, is a critical and trusted ally. For this alone (as well as being a bulwark of liberal, democratic values in a mostly dark region), they are worth every dollar we ship there.

A more interesting question is what exactly we are getting out of our FAR MORE SUBSTANTIAL investments to help Muslims, be it in Kosovo or Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuwait or, come to think of it, Afghanistan. (And don't forget that Jordan and Egypt get pretty much around the same aid package that Israel does). Oh wait-- I saw what we were getting for this from my office window on September

The fundamental problem with our foreign policy is that we are often willing (and sometimes forced to) make expedient compromises, backing less than liberal, democratic nations, for which we later pay the price. I assert that that is where the country finds itself in the war on terrorism. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are regimes that should get every bit the same priority for regime change as Iraq or Iran, and yet...

I sincerely beg to differ with the proposition that the United States has EVER gone wrong backing a nation with free presses, free markets and free elections. Is Israel perfect? Hell--I don't live there, and haven't even visited (I hope I'll get there one of these days; possibly by boat)."

From Christopher Jones: "One of your reasons in favor of support for Israel is 'Always support every mostly-democratic and vaguely-liberal state'. I have a good deal less sympathy with this reason than you have. Firstly because I disagree with the principle of always supporting a liberal democracy (which I will elaborate on presently); and secondly because I have grave doubts that Israel qualifies as a liberal democracy. As to the principle, my first question is, why in a given situation should we 'support' any state
other than our own? If Canada, Paraguay, or Zimbabwe don't have to have a 'Mideast Policy' and choose up sides between Israel and Palestine, why must we? Some may argue that our pre-eminence as the sole superpower imposes this responsibility on us; but even if that were true (which I don't believe), our first responsibility is to our own safety, security, and national interests. Any responsibility for other states is clearly secondary.

As for preferring the more democratic state, I hearken back to John Adams's recommendation that America should always be "the friends of liberty everywhere, but guardians only of our own". True democracy and liberty will much more reliably take root in a nation which has earned its own liberty as our forefathers did than in one which owes its liberty to the largesse and military force of a great power.

You've hinted at my second point by the heavy qualifiers "mostly-" and "vaguely-". The truth is that Israel doesn't fit all that well into
Americans' working definition of "democracy". An American-style democracy is a secular, multi-racial state based on the rule of law and respectful of the rights of individuals and of ethnic and religious minorities. Israel has no written constitution and no Bill of Rights. Israel has an explicitly ethnic/religious basis. Israel is able to be a democracy only because a large part of the indigenous population was driven out and is not allowed to return. In short, Israel is a democracy only for the Jews. When the Palestinians are allowed to return to their homes in Israel as full citizens, then Israel can justly claim to be a democracy. Then we can talk about democracy as a moral basis for American support.

In your discussion of the anti-aid reason "We have no reason to support Israel", you treat it as somehow related to "Supporting Israel
endangers Americans". It's not. It is really the heart of the matter. As a small-government conservative (which I think you are as I am), I believe that government should do only those things which further its essential mission, which (in the case of the federal government) is to defend the country and its vital interests. The small-government philosophy should apply to foreign just as much as domestic affairs. Thus the burden of proof should be on those who think we should NOT "mind our own business". I think the supporters of Israel should have to come up with positive, explicit reasons why it is in America's (not Israel's) interest that we should
support Israel. I've yet to see it."

From Stephen Dodson: "The only things I would add at the moment (I'm sure if I sat and reflected for a while I could come up
with lots more, but I'm at work) are that 1) "If the U.S. abandons Israel, Islamist terrorists everywhere will rejoice" is way too reminiscent of the main reason we stayed in Vietnam: "If the U.S. abandons Vietnam, Communists everywhere will rejoice"; and 2) unconditional US support for Israel is not only damaging to the US (as is our similarly driven policy on Cuba, but the latter has far less drastic consequences) but profoundly corrupting to Israel: being able to do whatever they want and not face any consequences
except fretful tut-tutting means those who rule Israel have been allowed to grow increasingly megalomaniacal and out of touch with reality. If we cut back our support so that they were forced to come to terms with the people they have to live with for the long run, it would be better for them, for the Palestinians, and for us."

From the Lord Mage of Good: "I've been following politics since I was four. Seriously. I'm that big a nerd. And, since age four, I've more or less been a Republican. And, from about age four to age twelve (still not kidding) I was a massive Israel backer. In third grade, we had a debate over whether Mondale or Reagan should be President. (I
was lucky; I got to back the winner and my favorite, all in one.) Anyway, a point I made -- which not one of my peers even pretended to understand -- was that, with Reagan, we'd have a President who would support Israel, ergo, all democracies, and isn't that a good

Then the intifada started (or at least, I became aware of it) and my opinions started to change a little. I knew, intellectually, that it wasn't Israel's fault that they had bullets and the Palestinians had rocks and Molotov cocktails, but I couldn't help but be moved a little. Fast forward five years, and I'm suddenly confronted with a real chance for peace between Israel and her enemies, and forced
to admit that if nothing else, I'd have to thank Clinton for helping that come about.

For the next several years, I grew more strongly pro-Palestinian (ending up about dead-neutral on the subject). I'd say of Arafat: "Look, he's trying, he's the best we've got, etc." I was *pissed* with Bibi Netanyahu for basically telling us to get stuffed, even if he was telling Billy Boy (when you're from the South, you get an automatic right to make fun of *anyone* from Arkansas) and the thumb-squatters at
State to shove it. "You don't bite the hand that feeds you," I told a friend in a debate we had on the topic.

And then Barak -- honest, decent-hearted, crypto-Carter-wannabe though he might be -- got bitch-slapped for trying to do more than any other Israeli Prime Minister ever dared. And those folks over at the New York Times started saying that it was Sharon's fault for going to Temple Mount (for which I no longer read the Times except on jump-cite), basically acting as a mouthpiece for the PA and The Nation.

And then 9-11.

My point is, in this condensed-but-not rendition, to say this: I understand. And after all this time, it seems to me that we have to stand with Israel.

Here's why: You give shorter shrift to some solid reasons for support than they deserve (or so it seems to me), or more accurately, you miss some of where your logic seems to lead.

Israel's survival is dependent in part on her ability to stand alone economically, right? And that's hindered by the weird socialism her Ashkenazi founders brought to the table, right again? First, this seems a bad line of thinking on which to make policy decisions; we all come into the world flawed, but we all hope for a helping hand along the way. And if we turned our back on every democracy with a troubled founding and uncertain economic systems, there go (at various times in the last sixty years): England, France, Japan, Taiwan, Spain, Mexico (I'm from Texas, I can talk your ear off on this one), and, let's be honest, almost every other democracy in the world. Most are pulling themselves out of the toilet. Taiwan went from being a marginal kleptocracy to an economic powerhouse, and a real democracy to boot. Why won't Israel? Indeed, why wasn't Israel, before this new Intifada? Theirs is a lousy democracy in form, but not in content -- you have an opinion, there's probably someone representing you in the Knesset. Sephardim aren't dealing with political exclusion any more. Their economy was picking up fast (look at their high tech and health sectors) and developing the crucial
infrastructure for future development -- world-class universities, well-educated workforce, increasing capital mobility, and dramatically increasing world trade. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't as big an aid drain as it had been. And yes, that irritating kibbutz dream was still lingering, but it was *dying.*

Admittedly, their economy is in the tank now, but that's (a) hardly surprising and (b) not a good excuse to kick them in the teeth. They're getting there -- like Taiwan did.

On a second (and for the sake of your poor eyes, probably last) note, like Taiwan, they're a good case for "charity aid." Charity aid is not just because we support democracies as a matter of principle (although there's a good argument for that, and you touched on
part of it); it's also a matter of exporting, albeit indirectly, our views to the world and giving them an upclose and personal look at what being America's friend can do for you. It's a de facto way of saying, "Hey, free trade and democracy can do wonders for YOU!! SIGN UP NOW!!" It's also -- on a more explicitly Realpolitik note -- a good way to have a beachhead where we might need it in the future. As you say, our enemies in that region will come for us at some point; we might as well have a landing strip in place. Yes, Turkey does the same thing, but why throw away a perfectly good knight just because you have a bishop fianchettoed in the corner? The two can actually give you checkmate, if used just right.

Last (quick) point: I fail to see why the fact that a more or less democracy is a pariah among its neighbors is a reason to drop it. That smacks of defeatism. We should encourage such experiments; after all, we descend from one.

Yes, I'm a conservative, so my sympathies reflexively lie with Israel; but I've given this a *lot* of thought the last couple of years. And it seems to me, that at the end of the day, you stand with your friend, even if he did just get back from a meeting of the Socialist International."

From Adrian Edmonds: "I came to live in Israel just over two years ago and I'm still trying to learn about it. For sure there are no easy answers but on thing I do know. Far from being ' a light unto the nations of the world' Israel is turning into a very unpleasant place."

Again, thanks to all who wrote. If I didn't link to your commentary, by all means email me with a heads-up.
"Oh, the fresh type, eh?"
"Just informed."

--Agnes Moorehead and Humphrey Bogart, "Dark Passage"

Thursday, June 13, 2002

COMING DISTRACTIONS: I'm very hungry and must get groceries and then dinner ASAP, but I have a lot of stuff to say (I've been storing it in my hump). So tomorrow you'll get: Israel/Palestine mailbag (with pretty much no responses from me for the moment); more Israel/Palestine questions, unrelated to mailbag; the return of The Politics of Dancing!!; authority and individuality; and, as always, random links.
ANOTHER PRIEST! This looks cool.
THE NEWEST WASHINGTONIANS: New immigrants in metropolitan Washington by country of origin, 1990-1998:

Other (166 countries): 24.0%
El Salvador: 10.5%
Vietnam: 7.4%
India: 5.5%
China: 4.6%
Philippines: 4.4%
South Korea: 4.1%
Ethiopia: 3.9%
Iran: 3.1%
Pakistan: 3.0%
Peru: 2.9%
Former Soviet Union: 2.7%
Bolivia: 2.3%
Nigeria: 2.3%
Jamaica: 2.1%
Ghana: 2.0%
United Kingdom: 1.6%
Guatemala: 1.6%
Sierra Leone: 1.6%
Taiwan: 1.4%
Nicaragua: 1.3%
Mexico: 1.2%
Trinidad & Tobago: 1.1%
Bangladesh: 1.1%
Dominican Republic: 1.1%
Somalia: 1.1%
Afghanistan: 1.1%
Colombia: 1.0%

"In 1998 only four cities--New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami--attracted more legal immigrants. Unlike the top four, however, the capital drew newcomers not predominantly from any few countries or regions, but from around the globe.

"...Different groups had different settlement patterns. Asian immigrants (primarily from Vietnam, India, China, the Philippines, South Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan) were more likely to move to the outer suburbs, with 56 percent of new Asian arrivals choosing to locate outside the Beltway in areas that have accounted for much of the region's job growth. Indian and Chinese immigrants were the most dispersed of the Asian immigrants. Vietnamese and Koreans were more likely to cluster, the former in the inner suburbs and the District of Columbia, the latter in the outer suburbs.

"Latin American immigrants tended to live inside the Beltway. ...

"Washington attracts the largest proportional flow of Africans of any major U.S. metropolitan area. ...Like their counterparts from Latin America, African immigrants tend to live within the Beltway."

(Singer, Audrey, Samantha Friedman, Ivan Cheung, and Marie Price, "The world in a zip code: The nation's capital reveals the nation's future," The Brookings Review, Jan. 1, 2002, p.32.)
GOOD IDEAS FROM THAT WELFARE-TO-WORK STUDY: "The assistant director of one faith-based group in Dallas, for example, spoke enthusiastically of plans to develop a new 'technology center that will be based on the model of a cyber cafe' where after-school youths and adults can come to receive computer training and conduct job searches. A Latino Baptist pastor in Philadelphia spoke about his organization's plans to start a Christian junior college in cooperation with a local four-year Christian college, to develop and enlarge a charter school already in existence...."

Sometime when I have more time (thus, not for a while) I may start a blog that will act as a clearinghouse for all of these grassroots rock'n'roll conservatism ideas. I'm thinking rootsrock.blogspot.com or some similar URL. I'll keep you all updated on this.
ATTN: BLOGADDER. Go here. You won't regret it. Link via Rat.

Also, here are some funny lawyers, via Overlawyered.
FAITH AND WELFARE-TO-WORKS: My employer, the Manhattan Institute, just put out an important study comparing government, secular non-profit, for-profit, very religious, and less religious welfare-to-work programs. Unfortunately the study didn't focus on results; its findings were more basic. Nonetheless there's a lot of good stuff. You can get the full report in PDF form here. Here are some meaty quotes:

Fifty percent of all faith-based welfare-to-work programs already receive government funding.

Government funds comprise 50 percent of the budgets of less-religious faith-based programs, and 30 percent of the budgets of those that integrate religious elements into the services they provide.

Secular nonprofits receive much more government funding than do faith-based groups, and 21 percent of all faith-based programs that have applied for government funding were turned down, compared with only 7 percent of similar applications from secular nonprofits.

There is little evidence that faith-based groups have to reduce their religious emphasis or practices as a result of receiving government funding. Only 3 of the 60 faith-based programs receiving government funding reported having to reduce these practices as a result of receipt of these funds.

Nearly 40 percent of faith-based groups have an internal policy of not applying for government funding. Most do so out of general fears of governmental interference with their operations.

About 40 percent of the faith-based programs explicitly integrate religious practices into the services they provide. A majority of religious groups that run faith-based programs do not make explicit religious messages a central feature of their work.

Government-run programs, for-profit firms, and secular non-profits are much larger in size than their faith-based counterparts.

Dallas and Philadelphia are notable for the large proportion of welfare-to-work programs being provided by faith-based agencies (36% and 40% respectively when one combines the integrated [more-religious] and segmented [less-religious] faith-based programs). These are higher proportions than is the case for the other 2 cities [Chicago and Los Angeles], and may reflect the emphasis that Texas under former Governor George W. Bush and that Mayor John Street of Philadelphia have put on faith-based approaches in meeting social needs.

[Faith-based providers generally wanted to expand their operations much more than secular nonprofit or government providers.] In our visits to faith-based providers it was clear that these reported expansion plans are more than fond hopes; time and again persons we interviewed were able to cite concrete plans their organizations were actively pursuing. ...We were struck by how many of the nonprofit/secular organizations seemed to wait for a government grant to become available, rather than actively moving into areas of perceived need. The job developer at a secular noprofit agency in Philadelphia that receives all of its jobs funding from the government stated: "The main question in an organization like this is, 'What does the government require us to do with the money?' Because if you don't do that, you lose the money and that might not be the optimal way to do it."

[W2W programs run directly by a church or congregation were less likely to integrate religion into their services than faith-based W2W programs run by independent organizations.]

...[I]n our visits to those faith-based programs that do not receive government funds we probed further in regard to the reasons for their not receiving public funds. Time and again, fear for their religious freedom, a more general fear of cumbersome, time-consuming government regulations, or not being able to pursue the programs they felt called to pursue (or all three) were cited.

...[A]ny public policy initiative seeking to enable faith-based welfare-to-work programs to partner more frequently with government will need to address issues of overly complex application and reporting processes and of rigid, constricting program criteria....

In visiting faith-based as compared to nonprofit/secular programs, we were often struck by the tendency of the nonprofit/secular organizations to have the attitude that if there is no government contract available to provide a given service, there is nothing they can do. Whereas faith-based organizations seemed to have other sources of funds, so that even if they were receiving government funding and if they saw a need not covered by their government contract, they would meet it out of existing funds or go out and try to raise money to meet this need.

For example, when visiting a secular nonprofit agency that receives 100% of its welfare-to-work funding from government contracts we interviewed several staff members who work directly with welfare recipients. They told us that basic life skills are very much needed by their clients. When asked if they favor more spending on life skill classes they responded: "Yes! On budgeting, saving, and buying what they need before luxuries, on nutrition, cooking instead of snack foods. Self-esteem training is needed [I am very skeptical of this--Ed.]....Many have no knowledge of nutrition--their kids get too much sugar, and therefore they are hyper at school and the teacher wants to medicate them. One thing leads to another." Then when asked why such classes are not offered their response was simply there are no government grants available for such classes. In contrast, a faith-based inner city ministry in the same city that receives 40% of its funding from government sources and 60% from private donations moves into new fields to meet new needs as they recognize and define them. The assistant executive director told us that there are now fewer single mothers on welfare in their area, "but former welfare recipients who are single moms are now working one or two jobs trying to make it. Their kids are left to wander the neighborhood, so now we have shifted our programming to provide a safety net for unsupervised children."

Majorities of all five types of providers reported receiving referrals from government. Near majorities reported making referrals to government and--perhaps most significantly--majorities reported having "had informal consultations or exhanges of information with government offices."

We were introduced to a healthy does of reality by an assistant director of an inner city faith-based program that receives government funding and has done so for some years, when he said: "My theory is that in the inner city nobody really cares what you do. One can evangelize, etc. without persons asking questions. This is different in the suburbs--there the ACLU would be all over you.... The political alliances are different here in the inner city. The ACLU and we are on the same side on many issues, not at odds. This helps."
Who robs kingfish of their sight?
Who rigs every Oscar night?
Blogwatch... blogwatch...

The Agitator: Rapper or toiletry? (hilarious); plus scroll down for more on Straight.

Two new blogs: The incredibly foofily named "Chickpea Eater's Bookblog," in which a friend of mine spouts off about stuff he's just read (sorta like this page only longer). First entry is on Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. I expect this page to be fun, philosophically rich, and poorly spelled. (Dude: The Rat eeks out a living; a musician ekes out a living.) And Bloggus Caesari--yes, Julius Caesar has a blog. This is beyond cool, because I am beyond dork. Links via The Rat and The Volokh, respectively.
"The enjoyment of art is the only remaining ecstasy that is neither immoral nor illegal."
--Clifton Webb, "The Dark Corner"

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Who keeps the blogwatch off the maps?
Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
We do... we do...

Blogadder and Cacciaguida on my Israel post. (Have gotten some good email on this which I'll post tomorrow--a.k.a. when I have more time.)

Juan Non-Volokh: Two very worthwhile posts on organic farming and environmentalism.

The Hall of Shame: A vast, depressing, awful list of priestly crimes and clerical coverups. Link via Amy Welborn. Who also has this fantastic post which you must read right now.

And here's a Canon Law group blog. Link also via Welborn, which is kind of silly of me really, because I doubt anyone interested in canon law reads my page and not hers, but hey, whatever, I thought this was a cool concept for a blog. This message brought to you by the Department of Redundancy and Repetition Department.
HEE HEE!: The Dostoyevsky Drinking Game. A gift to you, from me and the Rat.
SPEAK, BLOGGERY: Just received confirmation that I'll be speaking next Wednesday at an America's Future Foundation panel on blogs. What will I say? Won't know 'til I get there! Come on, feel the noise--here's the email I received:

On Wednesday, June 19, the America's Future Foundation will present a roundtable on the new online phenomenon known as Weblogging or "blogging." Are blogs legitimate sources of news and opinion [boo, hiss--Ed.]?Do they threaten the established press? Or do they empower journalists and others who until now had to rely on "big media" to get their message out?

Speaking will be Stan Evans, dean of old-school reporting and director of the National Journalism Center, journalist and blogger Joshua Micah Marshal (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/), and up-and-coming Catholic blogger Eve Tushnet (eve-tushnet.blogspot.com). Also joining us will be Noah Shachtman who recently wrote a piece on blogging for Wired News. Attorney and blogger Gene Healy (http://www.genehealy.com/) will moderate.

The event will take place at the Fund for American Studies (1706 New Hampshire Ave., NW). Drinks will begin at 7:00 p.m., with dinner and discussion following at 7:30. Please RSVP to me at jerry@americasfuture.org.
"WORDS WHICH COULD ONLY BE YOUR OWN...": I can't believe I forgot to mention the most intriguing moment in Sasha Volokh's "why study the dead guys?" post--the secret Morrissey/Heidegger connection! (You mean there's only one?)

Compare Volokh: "Heidegger said biography doesn't tell us anything useful -- he said of Aristotle: 'He was born. He lived. He died.'"

with "Cemetry Gates": "All those people, all those lives/Where are they now?/With loves, and hates/And passions just like mine/They were born/And then they lived/And then they died." (OK, so these lines are apparently stolen-with-love from "The Man Who Came To Dinner." Still, it's good enough for me. Martin Heidegger and Shelagh Delany, together at last....)
A slight relax of air where cold was
And water trickles; dark ruinous light,
Scratched like old film, above wet slates withdraws.
At garden-ends, on railway banks, sad white
Shrinkage of snow shows clearer than the net
Stiffened like ectoplasm in front windows.

Shielded, what sorts of life are stirring yet:
Legs lagged like drains, slippers soft as fungus,
The gas and grate, the old cold sour grey bed.
Some ajar face, corpse-stubbled, bends round
To see the sky over the aerials--
Sky, absent paleness across which the gulls
Wing to the Corporation rubbish ground.
A slight relax of air. All is not dead.
"If you were just a dame, it'd be different, Susan, but you're special."
--Van Heflin to Evelyn Keyes, "The Prowler"

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy blogger
Who could watch you under the table
David Hume could out consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel...

The Lord Mage of Good lists his Top 10 movies.

The Rat compares me to a Harper's editorialist. Ouch! A worthwhile post if you're following the "Sir Mick" controversy. This Reason take is also good.

Amy Welborn continues to be an indispensible source of sanity and news on the crisis in the Catholic Church.

And that is all. More tomorrow.
DEAD PHILOSOPHERS: A Volokh throws down the gauntlet: We don't spend too much time reading ancient, medieval, or even pre-20th-century economists, mathematicians, political scientists, or natural scientists. Why then do we read Plato, Anselm, and the like?

Well. First of all, I submit that philosophy reaches its nifty tendrils into all kinds of disciplines (biologists, of course, are practicioners of natural philosophy), and some of those disciplines are more likely to attain more-or-less-final answers than others. Does rotting meat spontaneously generate maggots? Nope. Does ethics require metaphysics? Well, Richard Rorty will fight you if you think that one's been decisively answered in a way that convinces more-or-less-everyone, the way the rotting-meat question has.

There are ancient philosophers who do get neglected; we're not really concerned about whether the world is basically made of fire, or water, or whatever. The long-dead philosophers you'll read in halfway decent philosophy courses still get read because the questions they raise have persisted. And no, often those questions have not been put better by others; as in literature so in philosophy, there is true genius. (Not that literature and philosophy are entirely distinct either. There's no hygienic separation between disciplines.) Because later critiques generally assumed familiarity with the philosophy being criticized, it's also very difficult to read later philosophy without earlier. The Old Oligarch was just complaining the other month about attempts to understand Descartes without any knowledge of the religious and philosophical context to which he was responding; it's easy to misunderstand his claims and either accept or dismiss what you think he's saying, thus missing the point of his critiques. It's like trying to read Endgame without having ever read Shakespeare.

I'd also note that there's great value to be gained from raw confrontation with an ancient, alien, yet great and compelling mindset. More on that here.

As for whether you should care about a philosopher's biography--although there are obvious dangers (prurience; dismissing a great philosopher's work because you find his life repugnant), in general, I think the answer is yes. Ideas have consequences, at least sometimes; just as we'd want to know how countries who tried to implement socialism have fared, so we might want to look at people who tried to live their lives in accordance with their philosophies. Moreover, having specific examples can lead us to feel the pressure of political or philosophical questions that we might otherwise ignore or gloss over--Mark Lilla's excellent "The Lure of Syracuse" (link requires subscription) gives us the political contexts in which Plato, Heidegger, and other thinkers made their claims; I think that context helps us to remember how important their stances were, how much courage or blindness or pride their positions required, and what their words meant in context. (Think of the recent "Jihad at Harvard" flap--context matters a lot.)

Some of the first great works of philosophy--Plato's dialogues--were also biographies, of course. I think that's in large part because there is no sharp distinction between the life of the mind and "real life." People often change their lives because of a philosophical conclusion they reached; it seems to me both appropriate and enlightening to look at how they changed and what the results were. If rhetoric is acceptable in philosophy, life should be too; for in many ways, living one's life as an exemplar of one's philosophy is an act of rhetoric.
OY VET ER KUMEN ZU GEYN, VELN ALE YIDN IN ERETZ YISROEL AYNSHTEYN: I promised a post on U.S. support for Israel, and here it is.

BACKGROUND: Let's clear one major obstacle out of the way. My father is Jewish. My sister too. I counterprotested the idiotic Jew-hate-not-free-trade! march in April. (Read about it here and here.) Although I was not raised with any particular affection for the state of Israel, and I'm neither ethnically nor religiously Jewish, I still have a lingering sense, I think, of the dream of Israel–a place for us. So I hope I can blog about my problems with the actual state of Israel without drawing accusations of anti-Semitism.

As will soon become glaringly obvious, I'm really conflicted about the question of U.S. aid to Israel. I figure I'll address a bunch of different arguments and see where I end up. I'll tackle each "side," starting with the arguments I find least persuasive.

AGAINST AID TO ISRAEL: Israel is an illegitimate state, founded on stolen land. I've read conflicting accounts of the founding of Israel; although I think it should be obvious to everyone why Israel was founded, I also think it was a very bad idea. The Jews suffered from their usual wretched luck–set your state down in the middle of what's about to become a hotbed of anti-Semitism and imported Naziphilia–and they got used by Europeans who wanted to make those pesky Hebrews somebody else's problem. My basic stance on the founding of Israel is, I know this sucks, but you should have gone to Brooklyn instead.

But that isn't really too important in the foreign-policy department, for a lot of reasons. First, the U.S. supports scads of far-less-legitimate states. Some of them we should stop supporting. But some of them are helpful to us, or at least better than the alternatives.

Second, there were Jews settling in the land that became Israel well before the founding of the modern state. Land was stolen from Palestinians (spare me the rant about how there were no "Palestinians"; there were people there, OK? They became a nation-like group partly because of the founding of Israel. That's how ethnicities form), but if Israel is pushed into the sea (which is where the illegitimate-state argument goes) those pre-Israel settler Jews will have their land stolen. Plus lots and lots of people will die. So even if you think Israel is illegitimate, getting rid of it will lead to murder and theft. And that strikes me as "illegitimate" too.

For more on why Israel is not evil, click here.

The fact that Israel has been expanding the settlements in the Occupied Territories means that Israel doesn't want peace. Whatever. Yes, the settlement expansions are wrong. I don't expect our allies to be angels, and if the worst thing you can say about Israel is that it plays dirty pool, I don't see that as enough of a reason to ditch a mostly-democratic, sorta-liberal ally. (Don't worry, you'll get more reasons later on.)

Supporting Israel endangers Americans. This is the "suicide bombers: coming soon to a theater near you!" argument. I frankly think we'll still be hated even if we yank all our cash and weaponry from Eretz Yisroel. I'm not really sure what, if anything, we can realistically do that will stop terrorist attacks on our country; do too little and you have no effect, but do too much (attempt "regime changes" in every hostile nation, say) and you end up a colonial power with some of the world's most resentful colonists. In the end, our support of Israel is not a big factor, I think. Not nonexistent–Mickey Kaus has diligently tracked Bin Laden's references to Israel–but I don't think ending our support of Israel will protect us. More on why this self-protective approach might backfire, below.

We have no reason to support Israel. This is a smaller version of the previous claim. It's a "what do you do for me?" question–why should the U.S. support any country unless our own interests are plainly involved? Here's the big cop-out of this post: I'm not sure whether there can be such a thing as "charitable foreign policy," which is what many supporters of U.S. aid to Israel are really proposing. I have not yet been convinced that such policy is at all times wrong or impossible. In almost all cases we either don't know enough about the region and its history–click here for some background on the Kosovo Liberation Army, to take only one example; or read up on our adventures in Haiti–or we can't do much good anyway. However, I don't want to rule out the possibility that there are real cases in which the USA can stop (say) genocide or invasion, through military force or military aid (since the latter is what we're sending Israel), at relatively low costs to us, and without screwing up the affected region worse than it was when we entered.

If Israel can only survive through US aid, it's a client state not a sovereign state–and the US shouldn't be in the client-state business. I don't have an argument against this. I basically agree with it.

ARGUMENTS FOR U.S. AID: You're anti-Semitic. I hope I've dealt with this already. An analogy: Lots of racists oppose affirmative action. I oppose affirmative action. I am not, however, racist. I think an excellent argument could be made–in fact, let's cut the middleman here and I'll just make the argument myself–that the existence of the modern state of Israel is bad for the Jews. Jewish grandmothers are getting blown up at bar mitzvahs, people. How is this good for the Jews? Cui bono? If the claim is that personal safety is less important than political self-determination–again, to what extent is Israel genuinely autonomous and to what extent is it a US client? Also, do Jews actually lack representation in the US? If you wanted to raise a Jewish family–wouldn't you rather do it here, and doesn't that tell you something about what's good for the Jews?

Also, if there were no Israel, the Schools of Resentment in the Middle East would have to find somebody besides the Jews to hate. They could start with their tyrant rulers, who use state-run media to pump out blood libel and Nazi-like propaganda. Again: good for the Jews, or bad for the Jews?

I know that the establishment of the state of Israel was a huge psychological boost for Jews around the world. Instead of being slaughtered, Jews were fighting back, and they were winning. They proved that Jews could win; and every people needs to know that it has a fighting chance in the world. I know that, as Glenn Reynolds eloquently put it (quoting from memory here; and close to tears), if Israel's enemies win out against her, "Many Israelis will remember Masada and die with the dream." All I can say in response is, the dream is already dead; it was stillborn. You can't build a country, in the midst of vicious enemies, on a dream. When blood runs in the streets of the "land of milk and honey," the dream is already dead.

Always support every mostly-democratic and vaguely-liberal state. I have great sympathy for this position, and in general it's right–just as, in general, "charity-war" is a bad idea. Most of the time, supporting the countries more like liberal democracies over the countries less like liberal democracies is the best plan, and very much in our long-term self-interest. (The world needs to know that liberal democracy works.) However, if there were ever an exception to this rule it would be Israel. Israel is not self-sufficient (and some of that is doubtless the fault of its socialist heritage and practice), so it's not a great example of liberal democracy "working"; and the fact that the most liberal-democratic state in the region is a pariah among its neighbors, in my opinion, does more to retard liberalization in the Middle East than to spur it on.

If the U.S. abandons Israel, Islamist terrorists everywhere will rejoice; our allies will see that we can't be trusted; we'll look weak, mutable, and beatable. This too is where I throw up my hands in defeat. I think this is just true. This, to my mind, is the best argument for supporting Israel–and it's an argument from despair. (And yes, I know that the intifada is not all that Islamist. But I still think Islamists would take a US aid cutoff as a major victory, and proof that terrorism works.)

FAINT HOPES: At this point, I see only a few very unlikely ways out of the impasses created in 1948.

The U.S. does something really awesome in the war on terror, thus allowing us to slowly withdraw from supporting Israel without looking weak. This is my least preferred option. I do not think Israel can last long without us.

That "something" also changes the balance of power in the Middle East significantly enough that Israel has a much better chance of making a lasting peace with her neighbors. When the threat of all-out war against Israel is removed, I think it may be possible to negotiate Palestinian statehood or (vastly less likely, not that any of this is likely) assimilation. This is better.

Move to Brooklyn. The least realistic of all the options; and by far the best.

I think it should be obvious that I'm open to persuasion on this–in fact, I'd love to be persuaded out of the confusion and hopelessness I'm in. So check out the email link to your left. Thanks to everyone who emailed me before I wrote this vast post; and feel free to write again.
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH MY FEMININE SIDE: Recently I mentioned two recipes that require virtually no clean-up. A reader asked me what they were. Mmm mmm good. As with all recipes, variations are encouraged and quantities are approximate.

Sandwich (this is a variant of a recipe I got from 365 Days Vegetarian--in general, a good cookbook--and I think it had some silly name like "San Francisco Sandwich," but since it's the only kind of sandwich I ever make, I feel no need to give it a foofy name):
You need: Tinfoil; a club roll or portuguese roll or similar; canned corn; plum tomato; white mushrooms; onion; canned artichoke hearts; munster cheese; cayenne pepper. That's for one sandwich; it should be fairly easy to figure out how to make more.
Preheat oven to 375. Get yourself two big sheets of tinfoil. Slice the roll in half the short way, then slice the halves in half. (Sorry if I'm explaining this badly. You should end up with two bottom-halves and two top-halves. It should look like a much shorter version of a halved sub sandwich.*) Set each bottom-half on a sheet of tinfoil. Cover the bottom-halves with a layer of canned corn (skip this if it sounds too weird, but it's really good). Slice plum tomato and layer that on top of the corn. Then add a layer of sliced mushrooms; then a layer of onion; then a layer of artichoke hearts. Top each half with a slice of munster cheese; sprinkle cayenne on the cheese; cover with the two top-halves. Wrap the half-sandwiches in the tinfoil and bake for about 15-17 minutes or until onions are as soft as you want 'em. Unwrap and enjoy. Keep napkins handy--these are very messy--but there are no pots or pans to clean. When you're done, just throw away the foil and give the plate a quick scrub.

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Whatnot
You need: Tinfoil, garlic, plum tomatoes, mushrooms (white or crimini), pasta, dried herbs/spices, and butter. You may also want an onion, artichoke hearts, and/or a package of shredded cheese.
Preheat oven to 375. Put water on to boil. Cover a pan in tinfoil. Thinly slice garlic. Set mushrooms on tinfoil. Slice tomatoes (big chunks work best) and set them also on tinfoil. Place the garlic slices on the mushrooms and tomatoes. Cover mushrooms and tomatoes with spices--I use oregano, basil, cayenne, and black pepper, but thyme works too.
When the water is about to boil, stick the pan in the oven. Cook the pasta while the vegetables roast. If you want artichoke hearts or very crisp, tangy onions (mmm), slice them up and put them on the plate you'll be using.
When the pasta is done, drain it and take the pan out of the oven. Butter the pasta. Scrape the vegetables into it. (You can slice the mushrooms if you want, but they'll squirt juice at you, and I rarely bother.) If you want cheese, put it on the pasta and vegetables. I prefer Sargento shredded Mexican-blend cheese--unusual with pasta, but good. The heat of the pasta and vegetables, plus the melting cheese, cooks the onions a little bit, but be forewarned--they don't cook fully.
Clean-up: Throw away the tinfoil. Rinse the pasta pot. Scrub the plate. Especially if you don't add cheese, this is extremely easy.

* The Rat once found a list of difficult job-interview questions that included, "Explain to me how to tie my shoes. Use only words, no gestures, and don't get a shoe and practice on it." This was startlingly tough.

Anyway, there will be real posting later today, but for the moment I thought there might be readers out there who are as obsessed with recipes as I am. In general, the tinfoil trick works wonders--you can cook steaks, for example, with equally limited clean-up.
"You know how it is early in the morning on the water, and then you come ashore, and in no time at all you're up to your ears in trouble, and you don't know how it began."
--John Garfield, "Breaking Point"

Monday, June 10, 2002

THE RAT INFORMS ME that Agatha Christie's title was Dame Commander of the British Empire. Now that is cool.
TIM DRAKE'S ARTICLE on Catholic bloggers is online, here.
BECAUSE THE KNIGHT: Why would people want Mick Jagger to be knighted? What would knighting the guy accomplish? Here's my take:
1) I'm not sure why artists get knighted in the first place, rather than reserving the honor for people who, you know, perform heroic acts or similar. But that said,
2) There's a big difference between knighting (or whatever the equivalent is for women--you can see that I don't follow this sort of thing) Agatha Christie, and knighting, say, Jean Genet. If you make your name slagging the Establishment, why should you want its favors? If your whole shtik is what a downtrodden, alienated, street-fightin' man you are--all your Satanic sympathies and so forth--doesn't it defeat the purpose if you get knighted? I mean, imagine John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) getting knighted.
And finally, 3) While obviously you can't expect everyone who gets knighted to be a moral exemplar, I think you can expect him to eschew rampant sleaziness. I like the Rolling Stones' music a lot, but why should people be rewarded for $#@!ing up in public?
THE MIRACLE OF SHANK: I know I promised lots of substantive posting today, but my weekend kind of escaped me, and I just don't have the time to do it. However, I am reading all your emails and whatnot, and there will be much blogly goodness here very soon. I apologize for the delay. Try me tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Unqualified Offerings and The Agitator both have bucketloads of good stuff, so you should go read them. Also, The Old Oligarch and I met Fr. Jim Tucker on Friday, after he celebrated (? prayed?--I haven't been Catholic long enough to know all the lingo--do you only celebrate a Mass?) a Novena to the Sacred Heart. Very very cool. He was then mobbed by little old ladies. The O.O. muttered that that was why widows had special ritual roles in the early Church--if they're gonna mob you, might as well give 'em something to do.... Anyway, it was awesome, and we will probably return for the next First Friday.
"She had dressed for the occasion too, but her idea of a sex kitten looked like something the cat had dragged in."
--The Last Good Kiss , James Crumley

Thanks to the reader who sent it in.

Friday, June 07, 2002

(GRASS)ROOTS ROCK: The Cranky Professor writes: "Along with Catholic books for public libraries (an EXCELLENT idea), let me suggest gift subscriptions to Catholic magazines for school libraries both public and parochial.

"Most public libraries aren't thrilled with gift subscriptions because they are sure that then they'll have to take it out of their limited budget once you stop giving (the solution -- call the magazine and find out how cheap a perpetual endowment would be -- I know that some of the scholarly journals will do it for as little as $500 in one payment. Think about it -- perpetual subscription to a scholarly journal for $500! Oh. You probably don't read Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies.)

"However, most schools are [happy to get gift subscriptions] -- and I've actually NOT had opposition to subscribing to religious journals for public [school] libraries. They're just grateful to get something on the shelves!"

Note how easily this idea can be modified for non-religious uses--just replace Crisis or the Register with City Journal, Reason, Commentary, etc.
"CHRISTIANITY FROM THE OUTSIDE" is available online. There are terrific responses from Jack Balkin, Emmy Chang, Christopher Hitchens, David Kelley, James Morrow, Jacob Neusner, Jonathan Rauch, Ellen Willis, and Michael Yaeger. I was honored to work with them.
COUPON CLIPPERS: I'm a creature of habit. Every time I go to the grocery, I buy the exact same nine things. I love cooking, but I hate washing dishes, so I've grown to love two yummy recipes that require virtually no cleanup. This means, among other things, that I get a lot of coupons I don't use. I get 'em in the mailbox; I get 'em on my receipt; I get 'em here, I get 'em there, etc.

There's gotta be a use for these coupons. I've been throwing them away, but it occurred to me today that I might be able to give them to a food pantry or other charity. I'll look into this and tell you what I find.

One section of the Rock'n'Roll Conservatism manifesto (coming, slowly but surely, to theaters everywhere) will deal with grassroots activities--things anyone can do to promote markets, marriage, the well-being of the poor, and similar nifty stuff. Coupon-clipping is a tiny act, but there are many, many possibilities that most people overlook. Here are some excellent ideas: ROSCAs; marriage mentoring; Threads of Love; the Heifer Project; bringing Catholic books to public libraries (I'm sure non-Catholics can think of similar projects); Magdalene Home; Deborah Darden's Right Alternatives Family Service Center (it's described toward the end of that article); and there's a lot more out there, which will be explored in the Manifesto.

HERE'S THE LIST of people at the blogfest last night. Muchisimas gracias a Gene Healy.
ARE YOU A LAY CATHOLIC? Are you seeking saints from your own walk of life? Do you want to learn more about the history of the Church and her saints? Do you need to exercise your arm muscles and build upper-body strength? You need this tome! (I'm borrowing it from The Old Oligarch.)
My blogfest's back and you're gonna be sorry--
Hey la, hey la, my blogfest's back!

(I will never again be able to hear that song without thinking of the "Sesame Street" parody with the Squirelles singing about the boyfriend's back--and his front.)

Boy were there a lot of people at the blogfest. I didn't even meet half the people there. It was great to see folks from the first DC fest--Dave Tepper, Unqualified Offerings and Mrs. Offering, and Will Wilkinson (even though I didn't get a chance to say hi to Will). Also had much fun talking with Eugene Volokh, Jon Adler, Radley Balko, Brink Lindsey, Julian Sanchez (OK OK, you're not an anarchist!), arrrggghhh--there's no way I'm going to be able to get everyone's name in. Why don't we just call everyone "Kevin"? (You won't regret clicking that link, by the way.) Apparently there was a sign-up sheet where people wrote their names and URLs, though I missed it. Shamed and Russo were there, arguing that we should attack Iraq (Russo) and that there's nothing sketchy about chicks in halter tops dancing on a bar and squirting vodka down men's throats (Shamed of course). Here are many photos. I'm in one of them, but as usual I look like an idiot, so I won't tell you which one. But here's a hint: One of the people in this photo is Russo, who isn't looking like a dork. (My lesson: Look at the camera, you freak!) I do vote that next time we pick a QUIETER and larger place--Rendezvous was very good-looking, but way too loud and crowded. It was difficult to have a good conversation. Nonetheless, Eugene Volokh gave me some very good, sharp (=helpful, acute; not "sharp" as in "ouch, that stings!") criticism of the points I made in a judicial-philosophy post that has disappeared (uh, where are my early archives? Oh well...); I'll be mulling that over and getting back to you people on it.

Balko and I went back and forth a bit on "abstinence-only education." I made my usual point that trying to corral teens within rules and regulations, and emphasizing the riskiness of sex (whether contracepted or not), is never going to work. I suspect many abstinence-only programs fail because they're about what you shouldn't do, not what you should do; they're about abstinence and not marriage. Teens think they're invulnerable, and they like the risk inherent in sex because a) risk is sexy, c'mon, and b) taking risks "proves" one's invincibility. So if you focus solely on a "don't take risks!" approach you'll never change teens' behavior. I do think, though, that educating teens about what marriage is, why physical fidelity matters, the emotional turmoil caused by premarital sex, the difficulties it causes for marriage--in short, showing teens an achievable ideal and then pointing out that premarital sex undermines their ability to achieve that ideal--can work. It can only work if you have a believable teacher. I know a woman who does abstinence-until-marriage education, and she talked very frankly about the difficulties of convincing teens she wasn't scamming them or being a hypocrite. Once she did convince them, however, she said they were in general very enthusiastic, somewhat tripped out (nobody had ever talked to them, in a straight-up, no-bull manner, about marriage), and intrigued. (Obviously this is just going on her word; I hope to take a day off from work sometime soon so I can observe some of her classes.) My only point here is that if you do it wrong, "abstinence only" education can have many of the same flaws as "'safe' sex" education (which also emphasizes regulations and risk-avoidance, rather than ideals and goals). But the fact that some people do dumb abstinence-only ed doesn't mean that all abstinence education is dumb. Here's a big long review of marriage-ed programs: the good, the bad, and the silly.

Oh, and two people asked me if I was related to my father. I told them that if you ever meet a Tushnet, in any walk of life whatsoever, I'm very closely related to that person. I think the number of Tushnets in the world, total, is in the high teens or so.

Blogadder has some good thoughts, or beginnings of thoughts, about the whole Roman-vs.-Anglo law dispute that's been rockin' the Catholic blogosphere.

Social Theorist Trading Cards! (link sent by The Rat, who is blogging like a rat in a coffee can today.)

And you need to read this. Update on Radley Balko's excellent "Straight" story exposing an abusive "drug rehab" center.
"How extravagant you are, throwing away women like that. Someday they may be scarce."
--Claude Rains, "Casablanca"

Thursday, June 06, 2002

COME, MUSE, LET US SING OF RATS: Another one rides the bus--The Rat has a blog. Right now there's lots of St. Petersburg, SnarfQuest, and Dostoyevsky. Go, feel the bite of the Rat.
Avalanche or blogwatch
I was a snowball in hell
Avalanche or blogwatch
A jailer trapped in his cell...

Ted Barlow: How to thank those awesome Masai who sent us cows. The comments are also good.

Dappled Things: Latins vs. litigiousness; Roman exceptions; a very good post on the Curia. And the Reformation Polka (which is not as much fun as the Masochism Tango, I regret to inform you).

Brink Lindsey: Fathers and Sons; people need plants and pets (this, by the way, is one reason DC is the greatest city in the world--city-at-night streetscapes plus lots and lots of big flowering and leafy trees; there's no reason to pose a stark dichotomy between nature and city); and tariffs have consequences.

Emily Stimpson beats up on the teachers' unions; Michael Shirley defends them (as always, check the comments); Sara Russo busts out the whuppin' stick.

Dave Winer: Must-read quick essay about spineless journalists. To quote Edward G. Robinson in "Five-Star Final," "No wonder the newspaper is rotten. We need more drunkards." Hey, me and my friends are doing our part....

And I forgot to link to Daniel Connaughton's blog--he's the guy who sent in all those nifty contest entries below.

Oh man, Dee Dee Ramone died. No surprise I suppose. R.I.P.

Not back on it, Joe, still on it.
Not back on it, Joe, still on it.
Not back on it, Joe, still on it.
SO I WAS TALKING with a friend about this. She nodded. She had just one question: "Pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian?"

I wasn't sure what she thought the right answer was. "Pro-Israel, I think," I said. That was the right answer. "...I'd actually been wondering what you were thinking about that," I added.

She paused. "Despair," she said.

Yeah. I have a whole tangle of thoughts about U.S. support of Israel, but it all ends in utter confusion and the sense that there's no realistic hope of anything anyone does there working out. As I said below, I plan to blog about this on Monday, once I've sat down and sorted my thoughts out; I figure even laying out the sources of my confusion may help clarify matters for me and even perhaps for you all. But if you have helpful links, info, or thoughts, feel free to email before then.
MODERN LOVE: Something I've wondered for a couple years now: Why do different disciplines use the word "modern" to refer to such different eras? In history, as far as I can tell, modernity begins at the end of the Renaissance; but modern art starts much later. Philosophy generally uses the history definition, in my experience, or a definition in which modernity starts with the Enlightenment, or with Machiavelli; and then "postmodernity" kicks off with Nietzsche. I'd be interested in any emails about either a) the source of the divergence in these definitions of "modern," or b) if the art-definition and the history-definition actually relate to one another, how are they connected?

And this is probably not a question about mods. Probably.
NEW CONTEST!!!: Probably very light blogging today, but I will post a lot of stuff on Monday--the death penalty, Israel/Palestine, anything else I can think of. For now, why don't you all busy yourselves with a contest?

The new one springs off of this much-blogged news item: The New York State Education Department's decision to bowdlerize the literature they used on statewide exams. Your task is to "edit" famous works so as to make them acceptable to the Dept of Ed. Get out the red pen! Send entries to eve_tushnet@yahoo.com . A good entry is its own reward. Some samples to get you started:

Unpleasantness Comes for the Archbishop
Shakespeare's Queen Cordelia
To Kill A Mockingbird without reference to race (or rape...)--or with a racially diverse cast of characters, e.g. Mayella is Chippewa, the guy she accuses is Irish, Scout is Haitian, her father Atticus is Chinese...
The Bible without Jews
Portnoy's Complaint: He just can't stop watching "Friends"!

Winners will be announced in two weeks(ish).
"I'm overwhelmed. You're all such wonderful people. Everybody has my interests at heart. Everybody wants to take me to the cops."
--Pat O'Brien, "Crack-Up"

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

CONTEST RESULTS!!!: Well, I got the best results for the farm-bill contest, so we'll look at that last. First let's turn our attention to the "When life gives you lemons..." contest.

3rd PLACE: Seth J. Farber: If you had two lemons in the Reagan Administration, you would use one to add to a school lunch program, so you could count it as both a garnish and a vegetable, and you would align the other with your star chart to determine appropriate foreign policy.

2nd PLACE: Father Shawn O'Neal, lately of Onealism:
Before the IMF gives you lemons,

1) you have sell the furniture in all your buildings to the working-class pot-bangers out in the street,

2) you must dispatch of your holdings by selling them to the Spanish for 20 centavos on the peso,

and 3) you must ensure that both the public and private distribution managers living in the estancias aren't asking as much for "lemon
handling fee" as they did the last time the lemon boat arrived in the port.

When the IMF gives you the lemons, you have 15 months to give them full documentation concerning how those lemons were used -- including that ones that were "mishandled" by the distributors who live in the estancias.

You also have 18 months to pay back the IMF in lemons even if you don't have access to citrus trees, but the IMF does, so they'll cut you a deal.

GRAND PRIZE: A matching set from De Feo: When Objectivism gives you lemons, check your premises.

When Catholicism gives you lemons, offer them for souls in Purgatory.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: De Feo again: When fascism gives you lemons, blame the immigrants.

When Lucrezia Borgia gives you lemons, you're in trouble. Because she's been dead for a while.

When Enron gives you lemons, give them back.

When skepticism gives you lemons, you can't be sure they're lemons.

When aristocracy gives you lemons, have them thrown at the masses.

When the Democrats give you lemons, it's probably because you're a minority.

When the Mafia gives you lemons, it's a Sicilian message.

Jacob Profitt: Before the EU gives you lemons, you have to first reassure that you won't put French or German farmers out of work, agree to the nine-volume "Organic Lemon Handling Initiative" (HILO) and visit Brussels to grease the appropriate palms.

When Bill Gates gives you lemons, you'll be able to make lemonade, but first you have to agree that you will not unbundle juices or seeds and that you will use Microsoft-approved pitchers only for Microsoft lemonade and not for Sunny orange juice, Apple-MacJuice, Lime-ux, or ICM (International Concentrated Mangos) GS/2 (Grapefruit Sauce 2).

And two good ones from a seemingly bitter Marine: When the military industrial complex gives you lemons it's because some congressman decided to write citrus subsidies into the newest iteration of the defense budget in order to appease constituents in his district...and hey, why not give the lemons no one wants to the Marines (Not that our unofficial motto is "We do more with less" or anything)

When the military industrial complex gives you lemons, assume it's a goodwill attempt to add flavor to M.R.E.'s (That's meals ready to eat for those who haven't had the experience...and Meals Rejected by Ethiopia for those who have...you know that little bottle of Tabasco only goes so far).
And now the big one--"Write a post about the farm bill in the voice of a literary character." Enjoy, folks.

3rd PLACE: Scott Helgeson: Hop on Crop Subsidies
(as told by the Washington Fat Cat in the Hat)

Every blogger
down in Who-ville
liked libertarianism a lot...

Senator Grinch
(Independent, from Whoville)
did NOT.

He looked down at Whoville and anxiously thought
For my re-election voters need to be bought.
Then he growled, his fingers nervously drumming.
"I must find a way to keep subsidies coming!"

Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
Sen. Grinch got a wonderful,

He got in his limo
And took off with a screech
To the center of Who-town
To make a big speech.

"I'll give you a thousand, I'll give you a million!
I'll give you a doe-decal-dupple-dog-zillion!
Just send me back to the Capitol, my dear
I'll get money there, and I'll bring it back here."

He subsidized farmers and giggled with glee.
"Now the farmers," he said," will all vote for me!"

"I gave them money for dairy,
for big ketchup packets,
I even gave money
for mohair pimp jackets."

And some say the Grinch's heart grew 3 sizes that day,
Because he gave so much taxpayer money away.

2nd PLACE: Daniel Connaughton: "Angstrom held the NY Times with a gathering anger, the serrate-edged white pages garlanded with those ads of models, all svelte with their ring-appointed mid-drifts, slices of skin endlessly beguiling and
faithful to the long evolutionary line of tricks women have used to overcome a man's fear of rejection, a display to marry pistil and stamen. Amid the skin and sex and perfume his attention ratcheted upon, quite perversely, a news item concerning a farm subsidy
bill. This was the source of his inchoate anger, and to his Dell he flew, typing furiously into his forgiving, warm, blogger spot:
"'Don't have time to link this, but it was in the NY Times today (link requires registration, blah,blah) - the bastards passed a $190 billion dollar farm subsidy bill...'"

GRAND PRIZE: Mark Byron. For vast, obsessive length--and because I'm biased toward noir. Click here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Connaughton: Thoreau (not a literary character--not in that sense, anyway--but we forgive): From his blog entitled "Blogden Pond":

I set out to live deliberately in the wilds of eastern Kentucky with only a lap-top and a lean-to, recreating a previous experiment in this "computer age". Though a computer is not absolutely necessary, I plan to use it as a "word processor" and thus save the parchment and pencil waste formerly associated with the author's trade. One may see the economy in that. I plan to blog only once a day, and not spend more than one hour per day reading other blogs, for the mass of bloggers live lives of paragraph-sized desperation. From the desperate city blogs to the desperate country blogs, few heed the call to simplify.

I chanced upon a day-old newspaper on my grounds yesterday, perhaps blown in from the nearby interstate with its thundering herd of trucks and trash-laden gravel shoulders. The story above the fold contained a humorously titled congressional bill: "the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002". One hundred fifty years later and still we seek security from a congressional bill? Oh but pity the poor agri-business conglomerates, with only a governmental stipend to keep them in the sheaves! Surely without the subsidy of the government the mass of farmers would have no sugar or dairy or grain to give us and we would, wretched in our own failure to urge our
representatives to pass a Congressional act, be forced to farm ourselves, or better yet live deliberately off the land. Hmm...

Seth J. Farber: I do not like green eggs and ham,
I do not like them Sam I am,
I do not like this new farm bill,
It smells of pork from on the Hill.

Try them, try them, you will see,
There's nothing wrong with subsidy,
Green eggs and ham are but one strand,
Of vast farm aid wide and grand,

I do not like this spending spree,
When our nation suffers calamity,
I do not like it Sam I am,
I think this farm bill is a sham.

But our land was built by the family farm,
A way of life with such great charm.
Farmers get help with the right quota--
And we might pick up South Dakota!

I do not like this, not at all.
I think this farm bill smacks of gall.
Our nation needs to stand united,
And not lament the checks it kited.

Try the farm bill you will see,
Grow a carrot, grow a pea,
Or raise some bees for honey--
Don't worry-- Congress has the money.

Say, Sam, I see what you mean.
For not just ham and eggs are green--
With MY check in hand, I must confess,
I'm now a fan of this largesse.
RIGHT-LEANING LEGAL EXPERTS: If you're in the media and looking for a list of legal experts who slant "right" (whatever that means), this link might be useful to you.
POLLUTED BY WOLVES: Those who know me well know that I love wolves. Other girls had horse phases; I had a wolf phase. Such a long and intense phase, in fact, that I will not be at all surprised if some relatives send me wolf paraphernalia this Christmas. I sold my copy of White Wolf: The Wolves of Ellesmere Island (yes, they're gorgeous, but I wanted to buy more Dostoyevsky), and I think I gave my old stuffed lupine companion Rosebriar to the pregnancy center, but I still think wolves are pretty awesome.

However. The only wolves I've seen up-close-and-personal were safely behind bars. I do not see wolves padding down 16th Street, slinking through Rock Creek Park, or dining on Bambi carpaccio out in darkest Virginia. And this suits me just fine.

I was reminded of my preference for a wolfless habitat when I read an account of a Close Encounter of the Wolfen Kind in Portland, Ore. Wolfie had his snout stuck in the trashcan behind a local eatery. Raised his head, spotted customers leaving the restaurant, and went into classic stalking-wolf mode. The customers backed away very slowly, and the wolf retreated.

I really don't deal much with nasty beasties in my daily life. ("Who's that in that nasty car? --Nasty beasts!") Rats, big weird swamp-type bugs, that's about it. I see deer in the Park quite often, and many years ago one wandered into the Capitol, smashed through a plate-glass window, and stumbled around in a daze until it was captured and removed. I don't have to back slowly away from the Tastee Diner dumpster because some carnivore is rifling through the garbage; I don't have to worry that when our cat escapes some fangtoothed coyote or Canis lupus will snuff him. This is great. This happened because humans changed the "natural world" we found around us.

The separation between humans and the rest of nature goes back to Genesis, of course--we were given dominion over the creepycrawlies and the flittering things and, importantly, the clawed and jagtoothed wild animals. But that separation between us and them was predicated on our dominance. We, not they, stood at the top of the Great Chain of Being.

Later philosophies, in which humans become just another part of nature, had a much harder time justifying that dominance. (You could read the book that seduced me into nine years of vegetarianism if you want a utilitarian take on the subject--an accurate, consistent utilitarian take, I might add... which is one of the problems with utilitarianism.) Attempts to justify humans' use of other animals too often rely on a "group rights" approach (what's really valued is rationality, and humans are the kind of critters who can be rational [as demonstrated by, say, our use of language, or our ability to make moral choices], so all humans get protection under the "umbrella" of rational-animals even if the particular humans in question have severely impaired rationality, have not yet developed rationality, or aren't exercising their rationality at a given moment).

There are some benefits to viewing ourselves as just another part of nature--for example, this viewpoint helps us see why the changes humans make to a landscape aren't necessarily any less "natural" or moral than the changes other animals make. (Virginia Postrel has a great example of this in The Future and Its Enemies, in which an environmental group tried to recreate an American forest as it would have existed before Columbus. The attempt failed, because the greenfolk refused to burn down trees that would be burnt by the American Indians who had lived there. Without this periodic culling, some tree species quickly crowded out others; some trees took over, while others vanished. In order to recreate the supposed "beautiful nature," humans would have had to intervene, since we inadvertently had created the species diversity that gave the forest its majesty. Because humans were viewed as intruders, usurpers in the Wild Kingdom, the Greens failed to see that we were actually helpful players in the biological drama.)

However, if we view ourselves as only one species among others, we can have no justification for our dominance or use of other animals. (Or we end up with justifications for using beasts that also turn out to justify using other humans.) This justification of human dominance is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult problems for philosophy (especially secular philosophy); it's ignored simply because most people either don't think about the outliers (non- or not-yet-rational humans; clever pets), or simply laugh when they're asked to take Peter Singer's claims seriously. (Three cheers for common sense on this one, by the way--I'm thrilled that people reject human/beast equality, even if arguing the case from modern secular premises is tougher than we usually realize.) So people who don't have a good sense of what differentiates us from the beasties around us often retreat into a hazy romanticism about "nature." Natural good, manufactured bad!

Eugene Volokh came up with a good way of thinking about pollution that avoids this problem: Pollution is nasty stuff in the environment that causes disease. Here are the relevant paragraphs: "How can I say that the world has gotten cleaner, given all the smog, toxic waste, etc.? Well, there's certainly pollution out there, which I would define as material in the environment that can cause disease. And there's more chemical pollution, I suspect, than there was, say, 300 years ago.

"But there's vastly less biological pollution. For much of human history, the species was literally plagued with a vast range of material in the environment -- bacteria and viruses -- that can cause disease. Some of this was an artifact of people living next to each other, but it happened with population densities much lower than we see today. And biological pollution has generally proven to be much more lethal than chemical pollution.

"On aggregate, then, the world is much cleaner today than at any time in at least thousands of years, as defined in what I think is the soundest way: There is far less disease caused by the 'unclean' stuff in the environment than there ever has been."

This view seems to me to get it right: The emphasis is on what humans need (we're dominant) and what we can control (both manufactured and biological "pollution"). We're neither entirely separate from nature (in which case our actions would be inherently "unnatural," and usually "anti-nature") nor merely another cog in the Green Machine. So yes, under certain circumstances--when they threaten human life, limb, or livelihood--wolves can be classified as pollution. I say that with tongue in cheek; I think "pollution" is, in general, stuff we don't want around at all, rather than critters we like in zoos and off in the wild where they can't mess with anyone. But the way of thinking Volokh proposes strikes me as entirely sensible. The world is cleaner today than it was, and that's good. That shouldn't stop us from trying to make it cleaner still, but that's a very different argument about technology, economic development, and trade-offs (how much chemical pollution will we bear now in order to maintain a booming economy that ultimately benefits us greatly?).