Subscribe via RSS Feed

Ask your doctor if mindless authoritarianism is right for you

[ 0 ] January 8, 2009 |

Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent and Obama’s choice for surgeon general, is against the passage of medical marijuana laws (let alone legalizing the substance) because — wait for it — smoking marijuana “really isn’t very good for you.”

That’s some sophisticated social analysis you’re prescribing there, doctor!

If we’re going to ban stuff that really isn’t very good for us, we could start with crappy cable network news channels, with their mindless infotainment and empty-headed punditry masquerading as actual journalism. But that would probably be unconstitutional or something.

Bullets Dodged

[ 0 ] January 8, 2009 |

The grim possibility that Bob Casey could become Pennsylvania’s best Democratic Senator seems to have been averted.

Seating Burris

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

My position on the Senate’s authority to refuse to seat Roland Burris appears to be in conflict with several of the legal scholars I most admire (cf. Tushnet, Balkin, and Amar, but see also Levinson). My chances of persuading many people against that kind of all-star team are probably pretty remote, but I remain unpersuaded. To be more precise, I certainly agree that the Powell case can be distinguished. What I still don’t see as any compelling reason for why it should be distinguished. I still fail to see any good argument that Burris has not, in Balkin’s terms, “been properly appointed by the executive authority of the State of Illinois.” As far as I can tell, there is no serious question about the legality of Burris’s appointment per se — Blagojevich is still the governor of Illinois, and there does not seem to be a scintilla of evidence that he solicited or received a bribe to appoint Burris. Claims that the appointment were improper, then, have to rely on the much weaker tea of a “tainted process.” I wouldn’t be very convinced by this unless some evidence emerges that the impropriety extends to Burris, and moreover I agree with Ygelsias that on the narrow issue of Senate appointments the indictment of Blagojevich is extremely thin. It seems to me that Powell requires a better argument than “the governor who otherwise has the unquestioned legal authority to appoint an interim Senator is kind of a sleazebag.”

Of course, even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that the courts should defer to the legislatures in this instance, there would still be the political question of whether the Senate should exercise its authority. I don’t think it has any good reason not to seat Burris even if the courts would permit it, so I hope that reports that Reid will ultimately acquiesce are accurate.

Trouble at the Army War College

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

Ezra highlights Tom Ricks’ post on trouble at the Army War College. The Army War College, like its Navy counterpart, employs primarily civilian academics to produce research and to furnish senior officers with a strategic perspective. The Naval War College, for example, was an important cog in the project to produce the Cooperative Maritime Strategy. The Strategic Studies Institute at the Army War College, has provided space for excellent scholars such as Steven Metz, Stephen Biddle, and Jeffrey Record. Record in particular has produced work bitterly critical of the Bush administration, including its misuse of the Munich Analogy.

In response to critical coverage of the Iraq War, Metz apparently warned his colleagues at SSI against speaking with Ricks. Metz was apparently motivated by genuine concern for the future of SSI, after “several members of SSI had been verbally flogged” for giving interviews. I do sympathize with Metz; he wanted to save the Institute, and it’s fair to say that Rumsfeld and his allies have never taken concerns about academic freedom seriously. As Ezra notes, it’s not a question of tenure; the entire institution was at risk. Nevertheless, the story is deeply disconcerting.

An Eye for an Eye Makes Everyone Stoopid

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

I’m sure this will be productive:

A proposed resolution by a major Ontario union to ban Israeli academics at the province’s universities has sparked a bitter debate between leaders of both sides over an Israeli attack on a Gaza university.

The Ontario arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees announced yesterday it would propose, in a meeting next month, “a ban on Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities,” if they do not explicitly condemn Israeli action in Gaza.

The proposal comes specifically after a Dec. 29 attack on an Islamic University in Gaza, which Israel claimed was affiliated with Hamas.

“Attacking an institution of learning is just beyond the pale,” CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan said last night. “They deliberately targeted an institution of learning. That’s what the Nazis did.”

HT to Jon.

Please Please Please

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

I sure do hope that anti-choicers keep bringing up Terri Schiavo. Who knows, maybe this time the media will even figure out that the federal intervention was unpopular.

Winter War II Would be a Problem for Russia

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

Although Yglesias rejected my appeal to write a post on the possibility of Finland joining NATO (I used the hypothetical regularly during Patterson’s exam period to frame the question of Georgian and Ukrainian accession), he did connect to this exceedingly groovy Finnish military video. Requires Windows Media Player.

Terrorism and War

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

Debates about the meaning of “terrorism” often feature some odd assumptions, including:

(1) Killing 500 civilians while making some attempt to avoid killing them is less morally problematic than killing five civilians while attempting to kill many more. I suppose this may be true, but it hardly seems self-evident.

(2) While blowing up a 19-year-old civilian walking down the street is either a horrendous crime or a deeply regrettable bit of “collateral damage,” eviscerating that same 19-year-old with a sharpnel bomb a week after desperate circumstances have forced him to put on the uniform of the local security forces is morally A-OK.

The latter assumption seems particularly strange — as if the fact that we claim wars have “rules” makes them less immoral.

Anyway, the editor of my column got mad about my failure to achieve Krauthmaurian moral clarity on these issues, leading to this little back and forth.

Risible Hack of the Day

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

Erick Erickson. A lesser hack would be careful not to remind people of this great moment in circus clowndom, but Erickson is very, very special.

Recession Is Over, If You Want It Hang Out Exclusively With Other Wealthy Exurbanites

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

Shorter Verbatim Dr. Helen: “Now, most Americans under 70 apparently think that 2008 was the worst year they have ever seen economically. Yet, whenever I talk to people, they always tell me that they, themselves are doing fine.” [Via]

What could possibly explain this baffling paradox?


[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

Via AG, this brings some funny…

The Face of the New Pacific War

[ 0 ] January 7, 2009 |

Matt points out that Eliot Spitzer has become a shill for our robot would-be overlords. Even more alarming, Josh Keating posts the graph to the left, indicating international robot density.

The data support only one conclusion. On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy struck Pearl Harbor with six aircraft carriers, wreaking untold devastation. What if, next time, it’s worse? What if those aircraft carriers had been able to transform into giant robots?

This is the face of the future, my friends: