Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Things of interest to me at least from a couple of days ago.

Laura Rozen wonders why there's been so little reaction to Hersh's most recent N.Yorker piece.
Hersh: In my reporting for this story, one theme that emerged was the Bush Administration'?s increasing tendency to turn to off-the-books covert actions to accomplish its goals. This allowed the Administration to avoid the kind of stumbling blocks it encountered in the debate about how to handle the elections: bureaucratic infighting, congressional second-guessing, complaints from outsiders.
Watching the talking heads chatter about the Roberts nomination reminds me again of the absurdities of intellectual conservatism and of arguments from absolute foundations. Scalia is a Hobbesian reactionary. Is it possible to be and brilliant have such opinions? I suppose. But it's impossible to be such a reactionary and be a 'brilliant' interpreter of law. Reactionaries defend the right of the government as such regardless of rules. Can you be a brilliant tennis player if it's your policy to cheat? These idiots bore me. And of course liberals are principled moderates, men standing in the middle of a moving boat.
The only foundation that there can be to democracy and law is the foundation of a skeptical curiosity and the empathy that is its natural result. I'd agree with Brian Leiter, Dennett and the rest of the 'Brights' if it were possible to have a science of self-awareness or a vaccine against false logic and delusion, but there isn't one and there never will be. Brights confuse arrogance with intellect. Consciousness is the conflict between empirical awareness and conditioned response, and Leiter's anger and frustration are more a result of the latter than the former. That he thinks otherwise is unobservant and illogical: since when is it good politics to be anti-political?

Scalia thinks curiosity is dangerous to the state. I think it's a necessity if that state is to be just. He and I at least agree on the issues themselves. And Roberts is another uninteresting man.

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