A New Can Of Worms
18 October 2003
What Noble Lies?
Danny Postel interviews Shadia Drury, whose controversial efforts on Leo Strauss are legendary.
The subject of the interview is the "man behind the curtin," that is the wizard of neo-conservativism, Leo Strauss. But the intention of the piece is just another lame, ignorant, bigoted attack on the Bush Administration and the Blair Government.
The first target of Drury is Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz is a favorite target of the very same people who once allied with him and people such as Richard Perle over the Balkans. I think that is one of many untold ironies in this debate.
Wolfowitz has said that weapons of mass destruction were not the most important issue weighed in the Iraq campaign. It was just the issue that everybody in the bureaucracy agreed upon. That's not conterversial -- and it shouldn't be to a professor of political science -- no matter her field.
Iraq as a failed state, Iraq as a supporter of terrorism, Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and had active programs to secure nuclear weapons were all among the reasons for Iraq. Critics of the war at first charged the Bush Administration was all over the map for citing all of these reasons. You see, there could only be one reason for going to war... It is as if the fallacy of monocausation were a pandemic virus infecting every lefty in the country.
When that didn't work. Opponents of the war simply moved the goal posts. Seeking weapons of mass destruction suddenly became possession of nuclear weapons. Here we simply narrow the definition and raise the standard. Voila, Bush and Blair are liars.
Another theme we keep seeing is the attack on the neo-cons. This comes from both the left and right. The people on the right, such as Joe Sobran, have long been rightly marginalized to the point where they are not even a factor. On the left, we see an almost cult like behavior in attacking the U.S. over the war. Drury, I guess, has now joined this camp. She has gone off the deep end with this interview:
Shadia Drury: Leo Strauss was a great believer in the efficacy and usefulness of lies in politics. Public support for the Iraq war rested on lies about Iraq posing an imminent threat to the United States – the business about weapons of mass destruction and a fictitious alliance between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime. Now that the lies have been exposed, Paul Wolfowitz and others in the war party are denying that these were the real reasons for the war.
Professor Drury, what lies? In his State of the Union Address the President stated that Iraq was not yet an imminent threat. There is a preponderence of evidence that the Hussein regime was heavily involved in funding terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza strip, and as late as a week ago, evidence has emerged that Al Quaeda was trained in Iraq. Critics call the links tenuous. Okay, fine... but they no longer argue that the links don't exist. It is just a matter of to what degree did the links exist. If there are lies being told, it's not coming from the Administration.
Then the Professor states:
"So what were the real reasons? Reorganising the balance of power in the Middle East in favour of Israel? Expanding American hegemony in the Arab world? Possibly. But these reasons would not have been sufficient in themselves to mobilise American support for the war. And the Straussian cabal in the administration realised that."
Okay, just replace "Straussian cabal in the administration" with the Tri-lateral Commission, The Council on Foreign Relations, or UN Black Helicopters.
Now, let's move on to Strauss. Here, Drury turns Persecution and the Art of Writing on its head:
"A second fundamental belief of Strauss’s ancients has to do with their insistence on the need for secrecy and the necessity of lies. In his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, Strauss outlines why secrecy is necessary. He argues that the wise must conceal their views for two reasons – to spare the people’s feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals.
The people will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, the master over the slave, the husband over the wife, and the wise few over the vulgar many. In On Tyranny, Strauss refers to this natural right as the “tyrannical teaching” of his beloved ancients. It is tyrannical in the classic sense of rule above rule or in the absence of law (p. 70).
Now, the ancients were determined to keep this tyrannical teaching secret because the people are not likely to tolerate the fact that they are intended for subordination; indeed, they may very well turn their resentment against the superior few. Lies are thus necessary to protect the superior few from the persecution of the vulgar many.
The effect of Strauss’s teaching is to convince his acolytes that they are the natural ruling elite and the persecuted few..."
Persecution and the Art of Writing is about protecting the truth teller from the established powers that be. It is not about the powerful keeping down the masses. Esotercism is the preserve of Milan Kundera writing in the Eastern Bloc or the famous Soviet dissidents, not the U.S. bureaucracy. Drury confuses the meaning of elite, with those in power.
In Strauss' view that isn't the case. Strauss sees the elite as the best thinkers, i.e. philosophers. Her's is an elite heirarchy that you and I know as the people in charge. It's a cute trick, but it in the end it is false. The tyrannical teaching Drury refers to is convention. It is the philosophers job to challenge convention and tradition to rationally arrive at the truth. That was Strauss' key point.
Sometimes, the truth is hard to take. Maybe the world isn't flat nor is it the center of the Universe. The tyranny of convention, tradition or opinion can often be tough to overcome. Philosophers over the centuries learned this lesson well during times when challenging convention meant facing swift and final repurcussions. A postivists view of this same sentiment was presented by Thomas Kuhn when he wrote about the structure of Scientific Revolutions.
And finally there is this gem:
Shadia Drury: The idea that Strauss was a great defender of liberal democracy is laughable. I suppose that Strauss’s disciples consider it a noble lie. Yet many in the media have been gullible enough to believe it.
How could an admirer of Plato and Nietzsche be a liberal democrat? The ancient philosophers whom Strauss most cherished believed that the unwashed masses were not fit for either truth or liberty, and that giving them these sublime treasures would be like throwing pearls before swine. In contrast to modern political thinkers, the ancients denied that there is any natural right to liberty. Human beings are born neither free nor equal. The natural human condition, they held, is not one of freedom, but of subordination – and in Strauss’s estimation they were right in thinking so.
I believe that Drury is smart enough to know what she is doing here. One of Strauss' great themes was moderation. Liberal democracy can be just as fickle and just dangerous as tyranny was a point he made. Strauss wasn't a fan of liberal democracy, he was supportive of a republic (i.e. rule of the best). And that is what we have in this country -- a Republic.
Strauss believed that too much liberty became license to do anything. Again, moderation is the word. Strauss often presented his arguments as the center between two poles. Democracy vs. totatilitarianism or science vs. revelation, for example, and then placed his notion (a republic, classical rationalism) in between the extremes. Critics, such as Drury, often make the mistake of only examining one half of that equation. It's too bad she did that, here. She has much more to offer to the discussion.
One of the things that really attracted me about Loyola was the way they really emphasized ethics.
It's sad when Loyola shows up in the newspaper like this. This obviously isn't the school's fault, but everyone will still take this as a defeat.
Chicago Teachers have rather handidly handed Debbie Lynch her head over the school contract. But public opinion will probably be against her opponents:
"Some parents and residents are puzzled why the teachers would turn down five years of 4 percent raises during difficult economic times. In truth, most teachers would have received even larger salary hikes because they get additional annual increases as they gain experience and education in the system."
The teachers complain they didn't get enough money during the good economic times, so they want it now. That's fine, but it wasn't like their wallets weren't growing every year as the above quote states.
Deborah Lynch said coming in to office that the teachers unions needed to reform or be reformed. It looks like Chicago teachers are choosing the latter, which will definately be the hard road.
16 October 2003
Relax, Springfield, Game 6 spoiler isn’t ours
Oh, how I wished it to be true...
15 October 2003
The Difference Between Cardinals Fans and Cubs Fans
If the reverse had happened in St. Louis, the fans would have gotten out of the way.
And let's face it. How many off speed pitches did Kyle Farnsworth throw? And Gonzalez booted a double play ball. It's not the fan's fault.
(And when I said the same thing at the bar last night, everyone agreed.)
Update: And last night's incident still wasn't as bad as The Call.
Hot Rod on the Web:
"Gov. Rod Blagojevich hopes a state-sponsored Web site will influence Congress to allow prescription-drug imports from Canada."
No it won't.
Considering the budget gap, is this a good idea?
Should He Have Changed Updated His Resume
Kathuria strikes back at the Tribune with a $100 million lawsuit:
"Should I have updated my resume? Yeah, but there's a lot of old resumes that are around when companies are up and running. It's a fact of business,' Kathuria told reporters. 'If someone said they were running a company and it's no longer around, you just have a new resume. ... So at the worst case, sure, I'm guilty of not updating my resume.'
In a prepared statement, Tribune communications manager Patricia Wetli said, 'After reviewing Dr. Kathuria's complaint, we believe his claims are without merit. We stand behind the accuracy and fairness of our reporting.'
Managing Editor James O'Shea said, 'We stand by our story and our reporters.'
The 2,200-word story by Andrew Zajac and Rick Pearson took a closer look at the claims being made by the candidate who, as he strives to be the first Sikh elected to the Senate, has received national and international media attention.
For example, the Tribune story pointed out that Kathuria's resume had him listed as a consultant to the Swedish government on health care issues but that the plan for Sweden was actually his undergraduate thesis at Brown University.
On Tuesday, Kathuria told reporters he was paid 'a small stipend because I was in college.'
The lawsuit alleges that several points raised in the story 'are either false or distortions of the information Kathuria provided to these defendants.'"
This is one of things that happen to businessmen who go into politics... I'm sorry... this is the kind of thing that happens to conservative businessmen who go into politics. California candidate Bill Simon would be govenor right now had it not been for frivilous cases.
Whether the suit here has merit is really beside the point. If there are plausible defenses of the Kathuria's resume, then Pearson and Zajac was guilty of a smear.
14 October 2003
Grover Norquist Profile in National Journal
Grover At The Gate explains much about the movement, what we are attempting to do and the problems we may face on the center right.
Good expcerts include this one why the Alabama tax fight was so important, a fight, by the way, that was won decisively by the center-right:
"Today, Norquist is repeating this exercise in Alabama and other states. 'We have created a consensus in the Republican Party against taxes at the national level,' he said. 'I had hoped that the same consensus would have been picked up on at the state level, but you saw [GOP Gov.] Pete Wilson raise taxes in California in the early 1990s. So there was this disconnect between Washington politicians and the state capitals' politics. And I'm trying to close that, not just on taxes but on other issues. I'm trying to nationalize the Republican Party.' "
Another important point I haven't seen made elsewhere tackles what motivates Norquist -- and me quite frankly -- and it isn't money:
"Unlike his friend Abramoff, who is one of the highest-paid lobbyists in Washington, Norquist has apparently never earned that much, although even some supporters have the impression that he lusts after money. He has been lambasted by liberal critics for representing foreign governments and Big Business, but says he has lobbied for outside clients only three brief times since founding Americans for Tax Reform -- for Angola, for the Seychelles, and for Microsoft. His fees ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 a month, and Norquist says he often split the earnings with others. He did this lobbying, he says, at a time when he wasn't collecting a salary from the tax-reform association. Norquist says he hasn't lobbied since 1997 or 1998 (his final registration was for 1999), when he decided "the distortions about it weren't worth the trouble." He now earns $120,000 a year from Americans for Tax Reform and says he gets minor outside income from speeches and a column he writes for the American Enterprise Institute.
"I've never been interested in money, and I don't know why people assume I am," he said. For more than a decade, Norquist shared a rented townhouse on Capitol Hill with one or two housemates. About a year ago, he bought a place nearby and became a first-time homeowner.
This is a completely alien concept to Illinois -- that people actually get involved in policy and politics who don't care about making money. Even a decent guy like Steve Rauschenberger claims that Grover is opposed to taxing Internet sales because he has clients who are against it. Norquist thinks taxes are a form of theft, that's why he opposes Internet taxation. When you try to explain that to someone in Illinois you just get blank stares -- I mean if you are not trying to get ahead, then why get into this gig?
The piece also discusses one of the more divisive issues on the center-right is over the spending issue in Washington:
A more problematic issue for Norquist and his coalition is the budget deficit. Notwithstanding his rhetorical support for shrinking the size of the government, Norquist hasn't objected to most of Bush's major actions to enlarge government -- not to the sharp rise in spending for defense and law enforcement, not to new spending for education, and not even to the creation of a $400 billion prescription drug entitlement, which the Heritage Foundation calls "a disaster." Americans for Tax Reform lobbied against Congress's move to provide $80 billion in farm subsidies but didn't urge Bush to veto the bill. Norquist follows the White House in defending some spending as a wartime necessity and calls other spending a "down payment" for long-term reform -- $87 billion for Iraq will bring a safer world and, later, a smaller military, he says; $400 billion for drugs will help reform Medicare.
Few conservatives find these arguments persuasive, according to Weyrich. "Spending is absolutely out of control." He said he had expected the president to reduce taxes and the size of government. "There are some bitterly disappointed economic conservatives," he asserted.
Norquist is persuasive when he complains that conservatives' past focus on deficit reduction left the door open to deficit-cutting tax hikes, but he isn't as convincing when he claims that Bush has put the United States on track toward radically smaller government. At one of the Wednesday meetings, an unhappy fiscal conservative surveyed the bustling scene of a bigger and broader coalition. "Sometimes I think we're losing the forest for the trees," he sighed. "I wish these folks would get this worked up about spending."
This piece is not just a good look at Norquist, it does good job of exploring the entire conservative movement.
This Will Make Your Day...
According to the UK's Guardian Doubts are tearing France apart:
"At the FNAC Etoile in Paris, more a multi-storey literary warehouse than a bookshop, the shelves are buckling under the weight of ammunition for a political and social war. With titles such as French Arrogance, Falling France and French Disarray, this is heavy-calibre weaponry that is being trained on France's political elite in a war that has broken out over the very soul of the country.
Launched against a background of top-level disillusionment with Europe, accelerating unemployment rates, spectacular company failures and a stagnant economy, the books - by some of France's leading social commentators - have added an incendiary factor to popular protests over reforms that could end the 35-hour week, cut social security benefits and introduce across-the-board austerity.
Having recently emerged battered from national education strikes and months of street demonstrations over reduced retirement benefits, Jacques Chirac's administration is looking on with dismay at media encouragement for right-wing intellectual claims that France is now the weak man of Europe, mired in hypocrisy nationally and internationally, indifferent to popular needs such as care of the aged, and shaken by the aftershocks of vain defiance of the US-led war in Iraq. In short, that France is going down the pan."
That's a far different picture than the 9 dwarves present, isn't it?
So Much For the 3rd Year Slump
Chicago Tribune | Poll: Bush's job rating jumps to 56%:
"President Bush's job approval rating, which had slumped in several recent opinion polls, has bounced back to 56 percent in a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll released Monday.
In mid-September, the president's approval was at 50 percent in a similar poll and at 49 percent in an NBC-Wall Street Journal survey -- some of the lowest numbers of the Bush presidency. The latest poll was conducted Oct. 10-12."
One poll does not make a trend. And I don't buy the American's only cared Arnold argument. The news has gotten much more balanced coming out of Iraq. The Administration is doing a better job explaining Iraq.
I also think the constant drumbeat by the 9 dwarves could be wearing thin with the electorate. The economic news blunts their message.
Franken's Supply Side Jesus
Amity Shlaes asks, Any merit to Franken's Supply Side Jesus? Franken uses this anti-christian analogy to attempt to explain his redistributionist view of the world. Says Shlaes:
"Franken, of course, is implying that all this actually correlates to reality. And it does correlate to current political reality. If you are in the redistributionist camp, you will probably be siding with the nine 'disciples' vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. They spread their own version of the redistributionist gospel, all the time. At the last big debate the pithiest phrase came from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who said of President Bush that 'what this president is doing is trying to shift the tax burden in this country from wealth to work.' This makes sense only if you believe that: a) the economy is a finite loaf that can never grow and so must always be redistributed; and b) that every tax cut to the wealthy means a tax cut foregone for lower earners. That is a weird set of assumptions, since we are not the sorrowful citizens of the declining Roman Empire. Indeed, at the time Edwards made those remarks, the economy was expanding at a rate of about 3 percent a year.
Another Democratic candidate, Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, focused on the job losses the U.S. has seen in the recent downturn: 'How many jobs does America have to lose before George W. Bush loses his?' We all regret the loss of these jobs. But the fact remains that U.S. workers are far more likely to find new jobs within a reasonable period than their unemployed European counterparts, and that third-quarter data indicate unemployment in the U.S. will drop soon.
Again, Gephardt starts with the assumption that jobs are finite. And if you assume that no new jobs will ever be created by the market again, then the U.S. does need a political leader to do the work."
Supply Side Jesus comes from Franken's book.
Two things. First, I becoming a fan of Shlaes' columns. Second, is Franken. He's launching a new radio program on that liberal talk radio network. If this is a sample of his fare, he'll have a difficult time lasting as long as Limbaugh did on ESPN.
13 October 2003
... More on Kathuria...
You can download a copy of Kathuria's release regarding yesterday's story at IL Senate.com.
According to the release Kathuria is suing for $100 million. He also repeats items from his bio:
Dr. Kathuria graduated valedictorian in 1983 from Downers Grove North High School. He earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University and an M.B.A. from Stanford. Dr. Kathuria’s group made a $55,000 investment in The X-Stream Networks, Inc: and he became a Director and major shareholder and helped pioneer the free ISP concept. The X-Stream networks, Inc. was sold for USD 75 million in cash and stock and merged with LibertySurf. Dr. Kathuria was instrumental in helping build MirCorp and is a former founding director. MirCorp created world history on April 4th, 2000 when the company became the world's first company to privately launch and fund a manned space program. MirCorp helped send the first “citizen explorer” to space, Dennis Tito. Dr. Kathuria’s co-authored papers include “Selectivity Heat Sensitivity of Cancer Cells”, “Avascular Cartilage as an Inhibitor to Tumor Invasion,” and "Segmentation of aneurysms via connectivity from MRA brain data" the latter of which was published in the Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering in 1993.
The Chicago Tribune was well aware of all of these accomplishments, yet chose to slant the story maliciously.
This could be fun to watch.
12 October 2003
Kathuria to Answer Charges
Chirinjeev Kathuria will go on John Cox's The Progressive Conservative tomorrow at 11.30 am to rebut today's Rick Pearson article. In the Chicago area it is 1530 AM.
Kathuria's Sinking Ship
Rick Pearson takes huge steps toward single handedly sinking Chirinjeev Kathuria's campaign.
This is how it begins:
"If Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chirinjeev Kathuria makes it to the March primary ballot, the one vote he may not be able to count on is his own.
The 38-year-old Oak Brook business promoter isn't registered to vote. According to election officials in DuPage County, where he grew up and still lives with his parents, he never has been.
That is only one of the striking inconsistencies surrounding Kathuria, whose campaign is built on highly embellished claims of success as an international business tycoon."
It just goes down hill from there.
Points that might be worth pondering:
1. Kathuria's candidacy hasn't really gone anywhere. This leads me to wonder why this was a front page story.
2. That said, Kathuria needs to contradict Pearson's findings if he wants a future in politics.
3. Finally, I don't think any Republicans activists have "embraced" Chirinjeev. He's likable, his story is good for republicans and people have been supportive. That's different than being supporters.
Speaking of embellishing. Charles Wheeler is a professor??? He holds a Masters Degree in journalism. How does that make you a professor? I could be corrected, but usually don't we reserve the title of Professor for PhD's?