How Not to Change

by Dave Schuler on September 19, 2014

I really need to check in on McSweeney’s more regularly. Here’s an amusing list of ways to make classic movies less sexist. Gone With the Wind sounds about right:

Rhett kisses and grabs at Scarlett against her will. Scarlett informs Rhett that though they are married, she still has autonomy over her body and has the right to refuse sex. The pair ascend the staircase in thoughtful conversation, and Rhett wakes up the next morning glowing with newfound feminist awareness.

Read the whole thing at least if you want a lift from Ebola, beheadings, and the exploding stock market.

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Compare and Contrast

by Dave Schuler on September 19, 2014

When I read this I thought of this. It’s good for you!

If they’d adapt that wheel to power the electronics they’d really be on to something.

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Necessary

by Dave Schuler on September 19, 2014

For some reason Doug Bandow’s bios do not mention where he grew up. David Goldfield’s CV says that although he was born in Memphis he grew up in Brooklyn. I on the other hand grew up within walking distance of a Civil War battle, not much farther from a slave market, numbered among my schoolmates people whose great-great-grandfathers had served on opposite sides in the American Civil War, and I had two great-great-grandfathers who fought for the Union. I think that explains my visceral reaction when Mssrs. Bandow or Goldfield write that the Civil War was unnecessary.

It was necessary as surely as it is the case that there are still people south of the Mason-Dixon Line who refer to the American Civil War as “the War of Northern Aggression”, sometimes but not always humorously.

It was baked in. The Civil War was the price that we paid in blood for the U. S. Constitution. I think they are dismissing this too quickly:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

Their claim is the claim that the South would willingly have abandoned slavery or that slavery’s opponents would willingly have allowed it, assertions for which I find little evidence. Lincoln’s election was a signal that slavery would be abolished, the South took it so, and acted accordingly.

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Jesuit Educated

by Dave Schuler on September 19, 2014

Mark Judge’s Jesuit high school in Maryland was founded just about twenty years before the Jesuit high school I attended in St. Louis was. He clearly learned somewhat different things from the Jesuits than I did. Not that I didn’t learn the thing he lists as what he learned from the Jesuits. It’s that I learned other things as well.

For example, intellectual clarity. What he summarizes as “have an extracurricular activity” I would state as it’s not enough to be be a great scholar or a fine athlete or a winning debater. You should be a great scholar, a fine athlete, and a winning debater.

And in debate you shouldn’t merely go for the win. You should go for the kill.

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Poor Judgment? Or Political Judgment?

by Dave Schuler on September 19, 2014

For the sake of argument imagine that on any given issue the only consequences that you need to be concerned about are the political consequences. You don’t need to worry about economic consequences in the case of an ill-considered economic policy. You don’t need to worry about adverse reactions from other countries or foreign organization as a result of foreign policy decisions. And so on. Just the electoral political implications. I think that’s a much better if over-simplified explanation for the president’s words and actions than Peggy Noonan’s explanation:

A man who personally picks drone targets, who seems sometimes to enjoy antagonizing congressional Republicans, whose speeches not infrequently carry a certain undercurrent of political malice, cannot precisely be understood as soft.

But we focus on Mr. Obama personality and psychology—he’s weak or arrogant or ambivalent, or all three—and while this is interesting, it’s too fancy. We are overthinking the president.

His essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.

And we don’t say this because he’s so famously bright—academically credentialed, smooth, facile with words, quick with concepts. (That’s the sort of intelligence the press and popular historians most prize and celebrate, because it’s exactly the sort they possess.) But brightness is not the same as judgment, which has to do with discernment, instinct, the ability to see the big picture, wisdom that is earned or natural.

Mr. Obama can see the trees, name their genus and species, judge their age and describe their color. He absorbs data. But he consistently misses the shape, size and density of the forest. His recitations of data are really a faux sophistication that suggests command of the subject but misses the heart of the matter.

Take the president’s decision to oppose ISIS/ISIL with bombs, support for imaginary Syrian moderate rebels, and non-existent allies who will commit troops to the campaign but not “boots on the ground”. I think the complete package of the president’s views inclusive both of rhetoric and practical steps can only be recognized when viewed solely through the lens of domestic electoral politics.

The president must do something. The bloody heads of Americans and Brits beheaded by ISIS form an unassailable argument. Failing to react forcefully to those provocations won’t pick up seats in Illinois, New York, or New Jersey. Those seats are already solidly Democratic. Lack of a forceful reaction might lose seats in Louisiana, Iowa, and Alaska. The merits of the threat posed by ISIS just don’t warrant a committed response. Consequently, a response that falls short of a committed response is the best possible political judgment.

As I have said before, I don’t fault the president for not wanting to commit troops to Iraq and Syria because I don’t think the threat to the United States posed by ISIS/ISIL warrants it. My sole complaint is that the president does not appear to be willing to assuage the concerns of the American people and sell his plan to them.

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Scots Vote “No”

by Dave Schuler on September 19, 2014

English politicians are breathing a sigh of relief as the Scots vote remain part of the United Kingdom by a substantial margin:

Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence.

With the results in from all 32 council areas, the “No” side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for “Yes”.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called for unity and urged the unionist parties to deliver on more powers.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted the UK would remain together and said the commitments on extra powers would be honoured.

Mr Cameron said the three main unionist parties at Westminster would now follow through with their pledge of more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

“We will ensure that those commitments are honoured in full,” he said.

After dismissing the possibility that the Scots would vote for independence until late polls suggested a much closer decision that had been anticipated, party leaders responded with ineffectual panic.

Early analysis suggests that the old, the young, and the Highland and Island Scots voted for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. Speculation on the Highland and Island Scots is that they preferred a seat of government far away in London to one closer at hand in Edinburgh.

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Culture Shock

by Dave Schuler on September 18, 2014

I’m full of questions today. As you know I rarely write here about sports or sports-related matters. It’s generally just not something that interests me.

However, I do have a question about the rash of suspensions of NFL players over charges of spousal abuse and/or child abuse. Is there a racial and/or cultural element in the outrage? I think there is. For example, I think that corporal punishment of children is much more socially acceptable among African Americans and rural whites than it is among, say, middle class suburban whites living in the Northeast.

I also notice that no one has asked if the wives or girlfriends of these NFL players strike them.

Just for the record I don’t think people should strike their children, spouses, or significant others. If you beat a dog, it does not cause the dog to express the behavior you might be looking for. Rewards are much more useful in eliciting behaviors than punishment. It may make the dog mean or furtive, however. We aren’t that much different.

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Prioritize

by Dave Schuler on September 18, 2014

While I’m giving quizzes, here’s another one. Put into priority the following goals of the House Oversight and Government Committee in its investigations into what happened in Benghazi in September 2012:

  • Arriving at a fair and factual assessment of the events that lead to the deaths of four Americans.
  • Impeaching the president
  • Battlespace preparation for 2016
  • Keeping the issue in the public eye to embarrass the president
  • Staying in the public eye personally
  • Other (specify)

I’ve always thought it was keeping the issue in the public eye, self-aggrandizement, battlespace preparation, embarrassing the president, impeaching the president, arriving at, etc.

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Arming the Rebels

September 18, 2014

Now that the House has voted in favor of arming the Syrian rebels: The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday afternoon to greenlight President Obama’s controversial proposal to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in effort to defeat the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Lawmakers approved the amendment […]

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Destiny

September 17, 2014

I can’t wait until I’m at liberty to tell you about the next project I may be involved with. All I will say is “Be careful what you wish for.”

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