Michael Bloomberg was not my choice for Mayor of New York City, but, with some exceptions (such as when he goes into CEO-mode and latches onto an idea and won't let go even when there's no popular support for it -- like the West Side stadium debacle), he's done a pretty good job. He certainly doesn't push my buttons the way Giuliani did (but that's a pretty soft level of expectation, given how much I actively disliked Rudy), and he mostly seems genuinely concerned with solving problems rather than playing politics.
On Thursday, Bloomberg gave a commencement address at John Hopkins University which had some straight talk about what's going on with the politicalization of science by Bush and the right:
Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned medical school graduates Thursday that centuries of progress in scientific research are under attack by those who oppose stem cell research and dispute evolution and global warming.
The comments were Bloomberg's latest in a steady stream that aligns him more with the Democrats than his own party. In recent weeks he has railed against the National Rifle Association, championed abortion rights and parted with Republican leadership on immigration.
Bloomberg unleashed the newest barrage during a commencement speech at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he studied engineering. He said gains made in research are threatened by "people who simply disregard facts that don't happen to agree with their agenda."
In his speech, Bloomberg ticked off a list of scientific concerns, beginning with global warming.
The issue is attracting renewed attention from former President Clinton and is the subject of a new documentary by his vice president, Al Gore. Meanwhile, President Bush acknowledges that climate change is a real problem but questions the extent to which manmade pollutants are responsible.
Bloomberg said those on that side of the debate are "driven by ideology and short-term economics," according to a transcript of his speech given to reporters at New York City Hall.
He then ridiculed the campaign to teach schoolchildren about "intelligent design" alongside evolution. The belief proposes that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some type of higher force, and many conservatives, including Bush, say schools should present both concepts.
The mayor said children who learn it are receiving an inferior education that puts them at a disadvantage later.
He told the medical students that they share the same burden carried by the school's first graduates more than 100 years ago, when the field was "dominated by quacks and poorly trained physicians."
Their task, Bloomberg said, is to "defend the integrity and power of science." [AP/Newsday]
Bloomberg's really not much of a Republican in any case -- he was a registered Democrat, but changed party affiliation to run for Mayor when the Democratic field was very crowded with potential candidates.
While it would certainly be a novelty to have someone competent in the office, I don't see Bloomberg as Presidential material, and I certainly don't think he's got the right combination of skills needed to extricate us from Bush's Iraq debacle. Of course, I don't see a lot of the putative Democratic candidates having those qualities either.
We certainly could do worse than Bloomberg, and he'd be a major improvement over Bush (which isn't saying much) but the state of things really requires that we do better.
Sometimes I feel like I've been posting to this godforsaken weblog forever, but, in fact, it's just 1000 days old today. While it's nice to hit a biggish round number like that, at the same time it's discouraging to realize that there are still 971 days left in the Bush administration, just one month less than all the time I've been blogging.
This had got to be the longest second term in history.
think about the following issues – immigration reform, gay marriage, school prayer, flag-burning, abortion, abstinence education, affirmative action, invading Iraq (in 2003), nationalism, and contraception. At first glance, these issues cover a range of seemingly unrelated subjects (though sex comes up a lot). But if I did a poll of, say, you-the-readers versus a random group of white social conservatives, I think a huge percentage of you-the-readers would be in 100% disagreement with social conservatives on these issues. And even if it wasn’t 100%, it would still be high.
And that’s what’s interesting. Assuming I’m right about the results of my hypothetical poll, it suggests that there’s something much deeper and systemic to this disagreement – a fundamental cognitive or cultural difference that isn’t readily apparent.
I suppose this will sound snotty, but I think the source of this fundamental difference is parochialism. I don’t mean that in a pejorative or a religious sense, but only a descriptive one – i.e, I mean it in the sense of “having little exposure to that which is different from you.” Parochial isn’t the best word because it’s loaded, but hopefully you understand what I’m getting at. (Maybe “insularity” is a better word.)
Anyway, the fundamental problem with parochialism is that it tends to make people equate the contingent with the universal. The contingent social norms of your part of the world become elevated into universal moral codes. The contingent social practices of your community become the baseline for “the good.”
I think that’s really at the heart of a lot of America’s cultural debates. For example, with respect to immigration, white conservatives tend to see themselves not as one of many groups, but of true “America.” The contingent characteristics of their community have become the universal characteristics of America.
And that’s what binds the two stories I linked to above. When people live somewhere with a lot of immigrants, it becomes clearer that what they thought was universal was actually contingent.
Same deal with gay marriage, contraception, and the other “sex” culture issues. There are many insular communities whose social norms (reinforced or perhaps reflected by religion) are such that homosexuality and premarital sex are not publicly acceptable. The problem, though, is that the social conservative lobby (often representing insular communities) treats these contingent social norms as universal moral imperatives that must be imposed via legislation. In doing so, they mix up the "is" with the "ought."
Same deal for religion more generally. The more you are around people of other faiths (or no faith), the more you come to see your own religious faith as somewhat contingent. That inevitably makes you more humble about the correctness of your views. Of course, I’m not making any claim as to religion’s validity, I’m just saying that where you happened to grow up is an important part of it. There aren’t many Hindus in Alabama, and there aren’t many Southern Baptists in India.
Same deal on national security/nationalism issues. Because many Americans have little contact with the rest of the world (or with people from other parts of the world), they tend to view contingent American motives and actions as universally good. They also tend to equate America’s interest with the world’s interest. More disturbingly, the rest of the world seems less real, like an abstraction. All of this is a function of American insularity.
What is needed is a adjective that's precisely the opposite of "cosmopolitanism," and perhaps "provincialism" might be a better word than "parochialism." The concept should encompass insularity, isolationalism, lack of experience of diversity, intolerance, close-mindedness and narrow-mindedness, lack of sophistication, a provincial outlook, and so on.
I've no doubt that Publius is to some degree correct if you're talking about the mass of people who support conservative cultural positions, but it certainly doesn't hold for the leadership of the movement, who are more sophisticated and better educated, but still hold ont the same kind of attitudes as the provincials they lead. In their case, it is, I think, dogma and ideology which controls them.
Update: One of Publius' commenters posted a link to this, from UC Berkeley in 2003:
Politically conservative agendas may range from supporting the Vietnam War to upholding traditional moral and religious values to opposing welfare. But are there consistent underlying motivations?
Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:
Fear and aggression
Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
Need for cognitive closure
"From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination," the researchers wrote in an article, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," recently published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin.
Assistant Professor Jack Glaser of the University of California, Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and Visiting Professor Frank Sulloway of UC Berkeley joined lead author, Associate Professor John Jost of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and Professor Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland at College Park, to analyze the literature on conservatism.
The avoidance of uncertainty, for example, as well as the striving for certainty, are particularly tied to one key dimension of conservative thought - the resistance to change or hanging onto the status quo, they said.
The terror management feature of conservatism can be seen in post-Sept. 11 America, where many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threaten the status of cherished world views, they wrote.
Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism - an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).
Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way, the authors commented in a published reply to the article.
While most people resist change, Glaser said, liberals appear to have a higher tolerance for change than conservatives do.
As for conservatives' penchant for accepting inequality, he said, one contemporary example is liberals' general endorsement of extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities such as gays and lesbians, compared to conservatives' opposing position.
The researchers said that conservative ideologies, like virtually all belief systems, develop in part because they satisfy some psychological needs, but that "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled."
Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions, he said. "They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white in ways that would make liberals squirm," Glaser said.
He pointed as an example to a 2001 trip to Italy, where President George W. Bush was asked to explain himself. The Republican president told assembled world leaders, "I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right." And in 2002, Bush told a British reporter, "Look, my job isn't to nuance."
No, his job is to be The Decider.
Update (5/31):Eliot Gelwan on the Republican appeal to tribalism.
Let's see now. Congress seems to think it's fine for the NSA to spy on all of us without any sort of a warrant whatsoever. But it's not OK for the FBI to conduct a raid on Congressman William Jefferson's office with a warrant after finding 90 grand in his freezer and after waiting weeks for him to comply with a subpoena to turn over evidence in an ongoing corruption investigation, evidence which he has refused so far to turn over.
Now, members of both parties are all worked up about this. They positively have their shorts in a knot over this. You see, they want the Capitol police to handle their stuff, you know, the same ones who failed to give Congressman Patrick Kennedy a breathalyzer after Kennedy crashed his car into a stationary barrier a couple of weeks ago. Instead, they just drove Kennedy home and said, "Good night, Congressman, and have a nice evening." You see, the Capitol police answer to Congress. The speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert even complained personally to President Bush about the raid on Congressman Jefferson's office. It's believed this was the first raid of a congressman's office in 219 years. Well, judging by the reaction on Capitol Hill, maybe the FBI ought to raid their offices more often. What is it do you suppose they're hiding in those offices?
Once again, Congress is demanding a different set of standards for themselves.
I find it fascinating that the debate suddenly is about whether or not the FBI can search this guy's office. It's not about the videotape that allegedly shows him taking a $100,000 payoff or his refusal to comply with a subpoena to hand over evidence in an ongoing corruption investigation. The congress people, Republicans and Democrats are all afraid the FBI might want to look in their office. Unbelievable. [Video here]
Cafferty's frequently too libertarian/conservative for my taste, but in this he's absolutely right, and Pelosi is totally wrong. A judge or magistrate, from the judicial branch, issued a warrant in response to evidence presented by the FBI, from the executive branch, to raid the office of a Congressman, from the legislative branch. That's the way it's supposed to work. Senators and Representatives have a certain very specific immunity:
They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place. - U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 6
but otherwise they are subject to the same laws as anyone else, and that includes being raided by the FBI when a warrant has been issued to authorize it. No member of Congress is exempt from these laws, nor is the President.
The only way that an argument could conceivably be made that there's a constitutional issue, is if the Congress, having refused to exercise its proper constitutional role in the appointment of judges, has, for reasons of partisanship, instead rolled over and let the Executive Branch have whoever it wanted on the bench. Then, you might argue that the Judicial branch was, in effect, controlled by the Executive and wasn't acting impartially -- but surely Hastert wouldn't be making that arguement, would he?
No, he's just arguing that it's his damn House and no one can do anything in it without his say-so -- I wonder what his reason for that might be? That Pelosi apparently agrees with him is ludicrous, and damning. Her stance, and her unwillingness to strip Jefferson of his perks, has lost her a great deal of respect in my eyes.
DS: What do you think will happen if we remain in Iraq?
JC: Oh, I fear it is likely that we will in fact remain for years in one way or another. My own analysis is that the US military in the Sunni Arab areas has over time driven most Sunni Arabs into the arms of the guerrillas. A lot were on the fence in 2003. But green troops killed civilians of important tribes or busted down doors and went through women's underthings, and over time virtually all the Sunni Arabs came to hate us. Search and destroy is bad counter-insurgency. Now they are experimenting with "take and hold" and "oil spot" strategies, but they just look like larger-scale search and destroy missions to me. (Tal Afar is an example, attacked by the US and Iraqi government troops in August, 2005, and given out as a success story. It doesn't appear to me anything of the sort.) If US military counter-insurgency were succeeding, it would be apparent in better security. It clearly is not succeeding.
So, if we stay in these kind of numbers, I think more and more Iraqis will take up arms against us.
DS: What do you think will happen if we pull out?
JC: If we pull out, the Sunni Arab guerrillas will turn their efforts full-time to overthrowing the new Iraqi government and taking the Green Zone. That development spells Sunni-Shiite civil war. Moreover, there is danger of an Iraqi civil war drawing in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, so that it becomes a regional guerrilla war.
DS: Is there a solution, and what do you think will become of Iraq?
JC: The crisis in Iraq just has to be internationalized. The Italians are leaving, and probably most of the rest of the coalition will be gone by the end of the year. The British will draw down substantially and therefore become much weaker and reactive. There is no evidence that the Iraqi military or security forces can effectively substitute for the foreign troops in the hot spots, though they are good enough for places like Samawah and Najaf.
The political process has not in fact drawn in the Sunni Arabs. Mostly the political class of that community is deeply unhappy with the new government and its place in it. The guerrilla movement has gone from strength to strength and there is no sign that it is being effectively combatted. There is some danger of it taking over the Sunni Arab heartland as US troops withdraw.
A Salafi Jihadi mini-state in north-central and western Iraq is not acceptable to any of the neighbors, and they should be enlisted to stop it. Likewise, the new interest of the Malaysian PM and the Organization of the Islamic Conference in helping Iraq should be jumped on with alacrity.
But I am not optimistic. I think the likelihood is that either Iraq will descend into a Yugoslavia-type maelstrom with much death and destruction and a break-up into mini-states as a result; or it will descend into a Lebanon-type maelstrom with much death and destruction but manage to come back together as a weak nation-state in the end. The second is the better outcome for the region and the world, but it is not guaranteed. Both scenarios are dire, and could spin out of control into regional conflagration.
Clearly, there are no good options at this point, so we have to figure out which is the least bad option, which seems to be bringing in an international force to provide a modicum of security while the Iraqi government attempts to establish itself. Unfortunately, that also seems like the least likeliest possibility right now.
At this moment, "staying the course" is probably what will prevail until 2009, at which time it might be possible (certainly it must be tried) for a Democratic administration (if the President we elect is smart enough and crafty enough) to cut through the animosity that's been built up towards us and put together the kind of real international coalition that should have been prosecuting any action in Iraq in the first place. Once that's in place, we can gradually withdraw. This option is denied the Bush administration due to both their incompetency and their ideological predisposition against multilateralism and international cooperation.
By invading Iraq the way he did, Bush threw us all off a cliff, and we continue to fall. There's no question that eventually we are going to hit the ground, and that the landing is going to be hard -- the only question is exactly how hard.
The fact is, all presidents rely for their decisions on a complex stew of ideology, interest group pandering, and political calculation. So what is it that makes Bush so different? Just this: until Bush they also all cared about serious policy analysis. This was obviously more striking in some (Clinton) than in others (Reagan), but they all paid attention to it and it informed their actions.
But not Bush. He's subject to the same stew of competing interests and factions as any other president, but what truly makes him unique is what's missing: a respect for policy analysis. After eight months of working in the Bush White House, John DiIulio reported that "the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking." Paul O'Neill described Bush in cabinet meetings as "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people." A senior White House official told Ron Suskind that the Bush White House is "just kids on Big Wheels who talk politics and know nothing. It’s depressing." The meltdown at FEMA, the war with the CIA for being insufficiently hawkish, the lack of a serious plan for Social Security privatization, the staffing of postwar Iraq with inexperienced ideologues — all of these things have the same root cause: a belief that ideas are all that matter. Policy analysis, which normally works to ameliorate the impact of ideology, interest group pandering, and political calculation, is absent, so these things reign supreme in a way they never have before.
Of course, that also means that President Bush's initiatives fail at a truly spectacular rate. After all, policy is all about figuring how to implement ideas so that they actually work. If you believe that policy is something for effete liberal wonks — as George Bush evidently does — your ideas are doomed to failure.
Not to mention that Bush's ideas suck as well, so we're screwed even if he does manage to implement them. Doomed.
[Hitler] is the master of the art of propaganda. ... Hitler’s primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
As I walk through This wicked world Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself Is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside, There's one thing I wanna know: What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?
And as I walked on Through troubled times My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes So where are the strong And who are the trusted? And where is the harmony? Sweet harmony.
'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, Just makes me wanna cry. What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?
So where are the strong? And who are the trusted? And where is the harmony? Sweet harmony.
'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, Just makes me wanna cry. What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?
I really think that in the interest of the First Amendment, Freedom of the Press, the People's Right to Know, and better relations between the people we elect to represent us and the members of the Fourth Estate who act as watchdogs for the public, and considering the apparent interest in the subject, it is encumbent upon Bill and Hillary to, from now on, issue a press release whenever they have sex, detailing elapsed time, positions utilized, type of penetration*, number of climaxes*, props and aids employed*, fetishes involved*, and additional people incorporated into the session.*
It seems like the only reasonable thing to do, given what Matthew Yglesias rightly pegs as an example of "the all-too-American combination of prurience and puritanism."
AG Gonzalez says the Senate-passed English as the Official Language bill is only "symbolic" -- great, the country's going to hell in a handbasket, but the Senate's got enough time on its hands to pass symbolic legislation.
Besides, I'm not certain he's correct. Yes, it appears (as Matt Yglesias noted the other day) that any existing language-related rights under already established by law would be unaffected by the proposed legislation, but that doesn't mean that the law is utterly symbolic and without harmful effect (putting aside for the moment that the symbolic effect itself could be quite harmful).
Suppose, for example, that a certain disease or virus was endemic among people of a certain ethnicity, and the best way for the CDC and other Federal agencies to reach them with important information about what to do to help control the spread and to get treatment was to release the information in the native tongue of that ethnicity, in order to reach as many people as possible. It seems to me that since those people do not have the established right to that information in that language, then the CDC would be forbidden by this legislation from issuing the information in any language other than the Official Language, English.
Yesterday, the WaPo ran an op-ed by Richard Viguerie, the conservative direct mail king, who whupped on Bush and the Republicans:
Sixty-five months into Bush's presidency, conservatives feel betrayed. After the "Bridge to Nowhere" transportation bill, the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination and the Dubai Ports World deal, the immigration crisis was the tipping point for us. Indeed, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found last week that Republican disapproval of Bush's presidency had increased from 16 percent to 30 percent in one month. It is largely the defection of conservatives that is driving the president's poll numbers to new lows.
Emboldened and interconnected as never before by alternative media, such as talk radio and Internet blogs, many conservatives have concluded that the benefits of unwavering support for the GOP simply do not, and will not, outweigh the costs.
The main cause of conservatives' anger with Bush is this: He talked like a conservative to win our votes but never governed like a conservative.
The current record of Washington Republicans is so bad that, without a drastic change in direction, millions of conservatives will again stay home this November.
And maybe they should. Conservatives are beginning to realize that nothing will change until there's a change in the GOP leadership. If congressional Republicans win this fall, they will see themselves as vindicated, and nothing will get better.
If conservatives accept the idea that we must support Republicans no matter what they do, we give up our bargaining position and any chance at getting things done. We're like a union that agrees never to strike, no matter how badly its members are treated. Sometimes it is better to stand on principle and suffer a temporary defeat. If Ford had won in 1976, it's unlikely Reagan ever would have been president. If the elder Bush had won in 1992, it's unlikely the Republicans would have taken control of Congress in 1994.
At the very least, conservatives must stop funding the Republican National Committee and other party groups. (Let Big Business take care of that!) Instead, conservatives should dedicate their money and volunteer efforts toward conservative groups and conservative candidates. They should redirect their anger into building a third force -- not a third party, but a movement independent of any party. They should lay the groundwork for a rebirth of the conservative movement and for the 2008 campaign, when, perhaps, a new generation of conservative leaders will step forward.
We can only hope that the right follows Viguerie's advice because doing so will kill the Republican party and cripple the right for decades to come.
But when we look at this, and we see how damaging it would be to the Republican Party to take up his prescription, realizing that the only reason the Republicans are as powerful as they are is because of the potency of the coalition of the right-wing, Big Business and fundamentalists, let's also take the message to heart on our side as well.
Bolting the Democratic party because it's perceived as not being liberal enough is a losing proposition. A liberal-only third party, or "third force", or whatever you call it cannot succeed in our system of government as constituted with the current mix of views in the population at large. All we would do is to cripple the Democratic Party and allow the Republicans to triumph again just when it seems our moment is again at hand.
It is absolutely critical that liberals stay within the broad coalition of the Democratic Party, it's the only way to get back into power and have some significant measure of influence on how we are governed and what policies are put into action. Any other options, like the Nader option, or the sitting on our hands option, will only insure more calamitous years of Republican rule.
The Bush years have been a total disaster for this country, but we can perhaps be grateful that for many years to come they will provide a clear and convincing counter to the Naderite whine that there's no difference between the parties. There is a difference, a significant one, and, for all its faults, the Democratic Party is better for this country.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.