Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Older readers will remember Tom Jones (“Delilah”, “It’s Not Unusual”). Who is not to be confused with the hero of the novel by Henry Fielding, which was made into a movie with Albert Finney. Following in the footsteps of Sir Mick Jagger, Sir EltonJohn, Sir Paul McCartney, and Sir Cliff Richard, comes (drum roll, please) another very successful survivor from the sixties, Sir Tom Jones.
Also among thosehonored on this occasion were jazz musician John Dankworth (husband of singer Cleo Laine), 1950s singing trio the Beverley Sisters—Babette, Joy and Teddie, actress Imelda Staunton (who played the starring role in Mike Leigh’s rightly acclaimed Vera Drake), actor Robbie Coltrane (who stars as Hagrid in the Harry Potter films), Apple designer Jonathan Ive, playwright Arnold Wesker, actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, and the inimitable Bruce Forsyth. So who’s Bruce Forsyth, you ask. That just shows you never lived in the UK!
Whatever you may think of their particular talents, they all made their fame and wealth honestly—or somewhat honestly, if you include contracts with the British Broadcasting Corporation financed by the compulsory license fee. How different from politicians. And how different from the Queen, for that matter.
David T. Beito
Several of the contests are headed for a photo finish so you're vote could tip the balance for victory now or for a possible run-off.
Which reminds me of Herbert Spencer's point in Social Statics to the effect that in conventional thinking, no one is justified in complaining about the outcome of an election. If you voted for the winner, you obviously can't complain. If you voted for the loser, well, you knew you might lose when you voted. And if you didn't vote? Well, if you chose not to take part, how in hell can you complain now? Says Spencer:"So, curiously enough, it seems that he gave his consent in whatever way he acted—whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter! A rather awkward doctrine this."
(Cross-posted at Free Association.)
"If you like Fox News and think it is truly fair and balanced, you will love "A Patriot's History of the United States."
Interestingly, the article that Cordato bases his post on points out that associations of private schools are in the coalition lobbying for government standards. The article says, “Among the coalition's accountability recommendations are required standardized testing for tax credit scholarship recipients and teacher qualification requirements that allow for formal education or special knowledge of the subject.” Do you suppose that part of the motive is to crush private schools that are less able to withstand the bureaucratic impositions?
See Cordato’s post here.
(Cross-posted at Free Association.)
David T. Beito
The corks are popping on the Champagne bottles at Liberty and Power Central. Rick Shenkman informs me that we have received 30,000 hits so far this month. This makes Liberty and Power currently the most popular of all the blogs at the History News Network. But the folks at Cliopatria are nipping very close at our heals....so we can't be too cocky.
Kenneth R. Gregg
A Newport Beach attorney and collector, Paul Hegness, while looking through an Irvine auction warehouse, found a box stuffed with old papers and holiday cards. Inside the box, an envelope with a return address of"Upton Sinclair, Long Beach." Hegness said "I stood there for 15 minutes reading it over and over again." Sinclair wrote:
"This letter is for yourself alone. Stick it away in your safe, and some time in the far distant future the world may know the real truth about the matter. I am here trying to make plain my own part in the story."The story was Boston, Sinclair's 1920s novelized condemnation of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. During his research, Sinclair met with Fred Moore, the men's attorney, in a Denver motel room. Moore "sent me into a panic," Sinclair wrote in the typed letter that Hegness found at the auction a decade ago. Sinclair said:
"Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth,... He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them."Hegness plans to donate it to Sinclair's archives at Indiana University, where it will join correspondence that reveals the ethical quandary that confronted Sinclair. Sinclair continued:
"I faced the most difficult ethical problem of my life at that point,...I had come to Boston with the announcement that I was going to write the truth about the case."Other letters at the Indiana archive illuminate why one of America's most strident truth tellers kept his reservations to himself. As Sinclair wrote Robert Minor, a confidant at the socialist Daily Worker in New York, in 1927:
"My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book... Of course, the next big case may be a frame-up, and my telling the truth about the Sacco-Vanzetti case will make things harder for the victims...It is much better copy as a naïve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public."Just a thought. (and thanks to R. Christian Ross on Atlantis II
The other is about a rather wacky proposal by the British government in 1975 to raise civilian morale in Northern Ireland. So what’s new? Aren’t governments always coming up with wacky proposals. Well, yes, but they’re not always as wacky as this one. Nor, one might add, as harmless.
David T. Beito
Horowitz's comments only confirm my fears that the movement for the ABR threatens to hamper free and open discourse on campus.
For example, while he clearly states that Intelligent Design theory has no place in the classroom, his rationale for excluding it opens a new can of worms. According to Horowitz, the ABR “would provide absolutely no legal basis for suits to include Intelligent Design in the science curriculum in because it specifically makes the 'spectrum of significant scholarly opinion' the standard for diversity in the classroom. Intelligent Design is not part of the spectrum of significant scholarly opinion.”
If taken literally, Horowitz’s “standard of diversity” in the classroom would not only deny protection to advocates of ID but also to most members of the Liberty and Power. After all, few groups are less “significant” in number on campus than anarchist-libertarians or, for that matter, antiwar libertarians.
Horowitz trips off more alarm bells (at least for me) when he defends the ABR as a way to give “leverage” to administrators to stand up to “radicals” in the faculty and more closely monitor “abuses” in the classroom. For those of us who value academic freedom, handing more enforcement power to administrators is the worst of solutions.
Even a cursory survey of cases brought before The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education shows that administrators are often (my guess usually) the greatest offenders against academic freedom in the United States today. They are leading the charge to dumb down higher education through grade inflation and other measures as well as to impose political correctness via speech codes and mandatory diversity training.
Before following Horowitz's recommendations, some perspective is in order about the profile of today's typical academic administrators. Since the 1960s, these new Mandarins have come to dictate life on campus as never before. With each passing year, they have become more overpaid, more obsessed with student body count as a measure of success, and more removed from the front lines of teaching and research. The growing power of administrators is better viewed as the main problem on campus today, not the solution.
Also, of course, since the 1960s, the related rise of speech codes has increasingly stifled the circulation of ideas on campus. The ABR threatens to only worsen the problem by adding new layer of administrative bureaucracy, monitoring, and sanctions, albeit for different goals. I was fortunate enough to experience some of the hurly burly of open debate, discussion, and presentation at the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin before speech codes had taken full effect.
While most of my professors were leftists, who often lampooned Reagan in the classroom or had inflammatory Marxist boiler plate on their doors, students and faculty alike had a sense that nothing (or almost nothing) was off limits, even if it upset or offended someone. Now, in too many cases, professors and students choose to clam up rather than raise a provocative ideas, lest some student, parent, or administrator sees their comments as “biased,” “ideological,” “insensitive,” or not “germane to the subject at hand.”
In previous comments, Horowitz only confirmed my fears that the ABR was really more of the same when he wrote the following:
David T. Beito
"Advocates of free trade and globalization have long argued that trade expansion means more efficiency, higher incomes, and reduced poverty. The welcome decline of armed conflicts in the past few decades indicates that free trade also comes with its own peace dividend."
Now, if only those on the left who are both anti-war and in favor of limits on free trade could see how the latter undermines the former...
But not our highly trained CIA agents in Italy! The Italian government now has warrants out for a handful of our fine agents, no doubt involved in dark and dubious plots.
The president has become an American Nero, our elected leaders fight amongst themselves to define the kinds of state torture that should be encouraged in a permanent and endless war on something or other, and the Pentagon reports that it has no policy preventing the use of slave labor Hmmmm. We have FEMA and TSA competing for the Most Inept Yet Brutal Bureaucracy Award. But for all of this and more, what shines through is the repeated, stultifying, horrific and utter incompetence of the state in even those functions most people in this country assume the state can accomplish. While the nature of the Leviathan is well understood to readers here, amazingly and blessedly this perspective is becoming the common understanding and the routine expectation for most Americans as they watch the circus. I think 2005 may go down as one of the critical years in which Americans embraced a healthy disbelief in and a hearty dislike for their government. And that’s a very good thing!
David T. Beito
At the meeting of the AHA Business Meeting on January 7 in Philadelphia, the members will have a rare opportunity to stand up for academic freedom.
They can vote on one of two resolutions. The weakest of the two condemns the so-called Academic and Student Bill of Rights but is completely silent on other threats to academic freedom, most notably speech codes. For this reason, it will be easy for critics to dismiss the resolution as selective and opportunistic.
A better alternative which does not suffer from this fatal flaw is the second resolution (which is proposed in the form of substitute). The substitute not only opposes the Academic and Student Bill of Rights but also the use of campus speech codes to limit academic freedom:
Whereas, Free and open discourse is essential to the success of research and learning on campus; and
Whereas, Faculty and students face threats to academic freedom from multiple sources which include government agencies and campus administrators; and
Whereas, The so-called Academic and Student Bill of Rights and campus speech codes represent the two leading threats to academic freedom today; and
Whereas, Administrators, politicians, and others have used speech codes and the Academic and Student Bill of Rights to improperly restrict faculty choices on curriculum, course content, and personnel decisions; and
Nuremberg has decided, however, not to follow Basil’s advice and to acknowledge the city’s Nazi past. Today’s Times (London) carries the story. Here Simon Barnes explains the British facility for Nazi jokes. He concludes, “The Germans will wince when the English go goose-stepping into Nuremberg, but the history of the world would have been very different if the Germans possessed the British sense of humour.”
When a president finds the rubber-stamp process of the FISA court too onerous, you’ve got to wonder if something else is going on. As Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be the king.”
(Cross-posted at Free Association.)
Miss Gould was one of those rarities. Those who knew and loved her will mourn her loss. Those who, like me, love and strive for good writing will mourn the loss of a member of an endangered species: the"grammarians" who pay attention to good writing, and who, in their own small way, shoulder the burden of civilization.
[Cross-posted at Proportional Belief.]
David T. Beito
“Stability operations are a core U.S. military mission that the Department of Defense shall be prepared to conduct and support. They shall be given priority comparable to combat operations....”
With that sentence the Bush administration, through Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has declared that it is formally in the nation-building business, reports the Washington Times. From now on the blunt instrument of the military will regard social reconstruction as an objective on a par with winning wars. Welcome to the New World Order.
The rest of my latest Future of Freedom Foundation commentary can be found here.
Cross-posted at Free Association. (Yes, I've given in to fate, at least temporarily.)
One of my interests these days is defending Wal-Mart against the misguided barbs of its critics. In the last year, I've participated in two different public forums on Wal-Mart, one defending putting a Supercenter in the next town over and the other as a "responder" to the new anti-Wal-Mart documentary "The High Cost of Low Price." I have posted my remarks on the latter on my website. My apologies for some of the local references there, but the audience was leftist students and local community members.
When I did that forum, however, I wish I'd had access to this paper (PDF) by Jason Furman. (Hat tip to Don Luskin at the Krugman Truth Squad.) Some of this was reported on in a Washington Post op-ed, but the paper has tons more good stuff in it. One item not noted in the op-ed is this:
Wal-Mart is relatively unusual in that it offers health insurance both to full- and part-time employees. By comparison, only 60 percent of firms economywide offer health benefits and only 17 percent of firms offer health benefits to part-time workers. Target, for example, does not offer benefits to people working less than 20 hours per week. Wal-Mart, however, has longer waiting periods for eligibility for benefits than many other firms, 6 months for full-time workers and 24 months for part-time workers.
It never ceases to amaze me how many distortions people have created around Wal-Mart, as well as the level of sheer fear it creates among certain folks, both right and left. Perhaps, much like the BDS ("Bush Derangement Syndrome") coined by Charles Krauthammer, we need a WMDS for those who seem to froth at the mouth at the mere mention of Wal-Mart. If so, let me take credit for first coining "Wal-Mart Derangement Syndrome" as the acute onset of paranoia, irrationality, and/or economic ignorance in otherwise normal people in reaction to any one or more of the policies, the practices, the prices, the products, the aesthetics, if not the very existence, of Wal-Mart.