When I say that in the humanities more generally you have to be prepared to read fast, the idea is that you have to make yourself not so much go back over a text as go on from it. You respond in a sense oppositely to the same fact as discovered in philosophy, namely that a text worth reading carefully, or perpetually, is inexhaustible. You always leave it prematurely. And a reason for leaving is that the next text may be more apt to illuminate it than another look at the same text.--from Stanley Cavell's forthcoming Cities of Words
Take air pollution in the Northeast caused by coal-buring power plants in the Midwest. Corporate players, acting in their rational self-interest, have failed to bear or equitably spread the costs associated with their activity. Instead, they have shifted those costs to others, for whom their is no market recourse. In this case, the costs were acid rain and airborne pollutants, and their devastating effects on the environment and human health--not in the Midwest, where the plants generate and sell their energy, but hundreds of miles downwind, in the Northeast.Er, okay. Complaints like these offer nothing new-- even Adam Smith talked about externalities, and his argument for government intervention hewed largely to moral principles, just like his arguments for labor laws, workers' rights, etc. But Spitzer and Celli try to suggest, oddly, that it's in the "market's" best interest to curb these unpleasant social costs:
In a perfectly functioning market, the costs imposed by this conduct would be borne either by the producer in the form of reduced profits or by the consumer in the form of higher prices... Northeasterners have been left holding the bag, and the market alone offers them no way to respond. They are stuck-- unless and until government intervenes.I hate to say it, but this is a bit ingenuous. You can't convince power plant owners that their economic interests would be served by a dose of environmental controls, on the grounds that that would lead to a "more efficient market." This is just social crusading masquerading as good economic sense. Stale bluster to the people doing the polluting.
Alas, the Bush administration has refused to do that. Even as it spouts the rhetoric of free-market efficiency, the White House has allowed the polluters to avoid bearing the economic and health-related costs they have imposed.
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No matter how much you know, no matter how much you think, no matter how much you plot and you connive and you plan, you’re not superior to sex.Worth pointing out that this is a rather elegant degradation of a more nuanced and subtly fierce line by Gabriel Garcia Marquez:
He had made notes of these premature observations, intending to write a practical supplement to the Lovers' Companion, but the project met the same fate as the previous one after Ausencia Santander sent him tumbling with her old dog's wisdom, stood him on his head, tossed him up and threw him down, made him as good as new, shattered all his virtuous theories, and taught him the only thing he had to learn about love: that nobody teaches life anything.The difference between the two writers, I guess, is that Garcia Marquez accepts this, while Roth seems in awe at this wisdom, returning to it constantly, fighting it, masochistically accepting it, making a very bitter comedy out of it. Yes, comedy. If comedy amounts to resigning oneself to fate--while tragedy is about resisting it--then I suppose Roth is a comic writer. He's certainly a funny writer, and a talented writer ("That body is still new to her, she's still trying it out, thinking it through, a bit like a kid walking the streets with a loaded gun and deciding whether he's packing it to protect himself or to begin a life of crime").
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is
There is no denying that the number of manufacturing jobs has fallen dramatically in recent years, but this has very little do with outsourcing and almost everything to do with technological innovation. As with agriculture a century ago, productivity gains have outstripped demand, so fewer and fewer workers are needed for manufacturing. If outsourcing were in fact the chief cause of manufacturing losses, one would expect corresponding increases in manufacturing employment in developing countries. An Alliance Capital Management study of global manufacturing trends from 1995 to 2002, however, shows that this was not the case: the United States saw an 11 percent decrease in manufacturing employment over the course of those seven years; meanwhile, China saw a 15 percent decrease and Brazil a 20 percent decrease. Globally, the figure for manufacturing jobs lost was identical to the U.S. figure -- 11 percent. The fact that global manufacturing output increased by 30 percent in that same period confirms that technology, not trade, is the primary cause for the decrease in factory jobs. A recent analysis of employment data from U.S. multinational corporations by the U.S. Department of Commerce reached the same conclusion.I've heard this argument elsewhere-- that rising productivity is responsible for manufacturing job loss, in the US and elsewhere. But notice, Drezner's statistical argument is a bit ambiguous. It could very well be true that China's decrease in employment is due to productivity gains, while ours are due to outsourcing. And that scenario seems highly likely, when you consider America's miserably high current account deficit.
Politicians generally like a constitutional discussion because it allows them a way to avoid controversial topics by reframing them in terms of the two organizing principles of our system of government: separation of powers and federalism.Rubenstein's point is that, publicly, there's not much debate about whether gay marriage is right or wrong, or whether gay marriage should be part of a 'good' society. Instead, we get cavorting speeches about "states' rights" and "judicial activism." Out with Plato, in with Hamilton, is it now? The same goes for the debate over Roy Moore's Ten Commandments. Everything then hinged on the "accurate" interpretation of the establishment clause.
Brian Lamb, the network's founder, told Broadcasting magazine in 1980 that part of C-SPAN's mission "is to show that [politics] isn't always exciting." Exciting or not, C-SPAN has become a cable TV institution that has, quite literally, shaped the way constituents view their representatives, even those that former representative B.F. Sisk (D-Calif.) once called the "nappers and nosepickers," according to a 1979 article by the Los Angeles Times. Viewers could see their representatives in law-making action minus the commentary and analysis of reporters. Since day one, the network has broadcast over 24,346 hours of House floor proceedings. On March 19, 1979, the live broadcast could be seen in 3.5 million households. Today, 87 million homes have C-SPAN.Well, yes, in theory "viewers could see their representatives in law-making action," but how many actually do? How many have time for this sort of thing? C-SPAN's own surveys say that 22 million tune in each week-- breaking down to 30% Democrats, 26% Republicans, 28% Independents. Pew concurs. And, not surprisingly, tend to be much better informed, vote more frequently, and are far more likely to ring up their representatives.
The geometrical figure in the middle band, at the exact center of the painting, that flat silhouette of a three-legged pachyderm, is an alter, a tabernacle, of if your mind is allergic to religious symbolism, a stage set. An exciting ceremony, with delightful and cruel reverberations, has just taken place, and what you see are its vestiges and its conseuquences. [...] Understand me: myself: seen from inside and from below, when you calcine me and express me. Myself, erupting and overflowing beneath your attentive libertine gaze of a male who has officiated with competence and is now contemplating and philosophizing.And it goes on, bringing the picture into focus as a portrait of intersecting lovers: "we were a woman and a man and now we are ejaculation, orgasm, and a fixed idea." I don't know if this is fluffy, a perfect example of the blathery imprecision that Dale Peck decries, or if this hits at the abstract air surrounding the moment of falling into love (lust, even!). Here's the end of the chapter, where, for me at least, the painting is seen and the sexual act is evoked, and they meet in a wonderful haze of image and word:
Now leave off looking. Now close your eyes. Now, without opening them, look at me and look at yourself the way we were shown in that picture that so many look at and so few see. You now know that, even before we knew each other, loved each other, and married, someone, brush in hand, anticipated what horrendous glory we would be changed into by the happiness we learned to invent, each and every day and night of the morrow.Bravo! Yes, I cheerlead sometimes, and this deserves cheerleading. By the way, for those concerned, the somewhat pervert-like (or seducer-like, whatever) tone of voice fits in well with the rest of the book. Sign me up for more Llosa books. Supposedly he hocks his neoliberalism creed all over the pages of his other books, books about wizened dictators and feisty lovers and feisty lovers who happen to be dictators, real or otherwise. I simply can't wait.
In Window of Opportunity, Mr. Gingrich advised us that "the great force changing our world is a synergism of essentially six parts," and offered "five simple steps to a bold future." On the health care issue, Mr. Gingrich posited "eight areas of necessary change." On the question of arms control, he saw "seven imperatives that will help the free world survive in the age of nuclear weapons." Down a few paragraphs the seven imperatives give way to "two initiatives," then to "three broad strategic options for the next generation," and finally, within the scan of the eye, to "six realistic goals which would increase our children's chances of living in a world without nuclear war."Who else would have noticed this, or characterized it so cleanly? Martin Amis, I should note, is another writer who can work selective quoting into a marvelously frenetic and off-kilter portrait of a writer. But this is good stuff. More on this later...
He tried to impose the latest ideas at Misericordia Hospital, but this was not as easy as it had seemed in his youthful enthusiasm, for the antiquated house of health was stubborn in itsattachment to atavistic superstitions, such as standing beds in pots of water to prevent disease from climbing up the legs, or requiring evening wear and chamois gloves in the operating room because it was taken for granted that elegance was an essential condition for asepsis. They could not tolerate the young newcomer's tasting a patient's urine to determine the presence of sugar, quoting Charcot and Trousseau as if they were his roommates, issuing severe warnings in class against the mortal risks of vaccines while maintaining a suspicious faith in the recent invention of suppositories (108).I cringe when I try to imagine how a younger, flashier... ugh, postmodern author would have constructed this scene. David Foster Wallace would splatter out pages worth of medical terminology and minutely detailed histories of this or that superstition. Thomas Pynchon might opt for lumbering ethnographies, to similar effect. Now both of those writers are good writers, and their digressions would no doubt be well-written, lively, and informative. But neither Foster Wallace nor Pynchon would further the story along so elegantly, amplifying it in so few carefully measured words, as Garcia Marquez does.
History records that the cruelest of the governors of the Sudan was Yaqub the Afflicted, who abandoned his nation to the iniquities of Egyptian tax collectors and died in a chamber of the palace on the fourteenth day of the moon of Barmajat in the year 1842. There are those who insinuate that the sorcerer Abderramen al-Masmudi (whose name might be translated "The Servant of Mercy") murdered him with a dagger or with poison, but a natural death is more likely--especially as he was known as "the Afflicted." Nonetheless, Capt. Richard Francis Burton spoke wiht this sorcerer in 1853, and he reported that the sorcerer told him this story...Every American postmodernist (etc.) who has read a passage like this thought to himself: "Hey, I like that! I know a lot of stuff. I can load up my novels with baubles like those." And that's what we got. Baubles.
At the same time, Republicans close to the White House say they view Mr. Bloomberg's Democratic background with suspicion and have clashed with his aides over logistical and financial details of the convention.What was that phrase about the masturbating uncle again...?
It is as if Mr. Bloomberg will be host of a dinner party where half the guests cannot stand the other half, and it is only the salad course.
Mr. Bush isn't one to let the facts get in the way of a good political argument.It's on. Lord, keep our liberal media healthy and wise during campaign season.
President Bush said privately yesterday that he believes Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) will be a tough and hard-charging opponent, but said he feels he is starting the general election from a stronger position than he did in 2000.I don't get it...
Bush's views emerged from an unusual 80-minute session in the Oval Office with five network correspondents who agreed that his comments would not be directly quoted or attributed to him.
By the fall of 2002, the Bush Administration had begun mobilizing for the invasion of Iraq. Biden’s view was that Saddam Hussein, who had violated every international agreement he had signed but was not an immediate threat, would have to be confronted sooner or later. But he also worried that a unilateral war with Iraq would distract America from the tasks it had only just begun—stabilizing Afghanistan and defeating Al Qaeda—and seriously damage the alliances necessary to eliminate terrorism and other problems that freely cross borders: weapons proliferation, disease, environmental damage, ethnic conflict, impoverishment. “The burden was on Saddam,” Biden said. “But I would not have prematurely forced the world’s hand on whether or not to go to war, because I’d get the wrong answer.”There you have it. Boxer and Wellstone: the great simpletons of their time. By refusing to compromise, by standing by principles drawn with crayon, Boxer and Wellstone hastened the path to war. This anecdote deserves to be blown up, highlighted, and handed out to every 'principled' leftist who thinks that taking an absolute stand is always the right think to do.
Instead, he tried to slow the Administration’s momentum without shifting the burden from Saddam. It was in his party’s power to do so—Democrats still held the majority in the Senate (though they were about to lose it, in part because the public didn’t trust them on the issue of national security). Together with Senator Richard Lugar, of Indiana, the committee’s ranking Republican, Biden drafted an alternative to the Administration’s Iraq resolution that would have placed various restraints on the President, making it harder for him to wage war unilaterally and forcing him to bolster his case that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. Lugar had assembled a surprisingly large number of Republicans—twenty-five or so out of the forty-nine—who were uneasy with the Administration’s bellicose stance. In order to deliver their votes, Lugar needed Biden to line up at least forty Democrats; and Biden was sure of only thirty-eight.
As Biden recalled, on September 30th Lugar, who was in touch with the White House, called him. “Joe, I fear in the next twenty-four, forty-eight hours, the President’s going to cut a deal with Gephardt,” he said.
Biden was stunned. “Gephardt? Gephardt’s not going to do this.”
“Joe, I’m telling you. They’re working two sides here. They’re working us, keeping us occupied, but they’re working just as hard meeting with him. Whoever they reach an agreement with first, they’re going to go with.”
If Richard Gephardt, the House Democratic minority leader, came out for the Administration’s resolution, it would be politically almost impossible for any Republican to support the Biden-Lugar alternative. Biden had to gather the Democratic holdouts immediately and persuade them to stand behind his resolution so that he and Lugar could move it onto the Senate floor the next day.
That evening, Biden met with half a dozen leading Democrats who were opposed to any war resolution at all. “They said, ‘It’s not right, you’re not principled, asking us to do this,’” Biden recalled. “I said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. Please spare me the lecture. I thought our job was to do as much as we could to prevent this President from going off to war half-cocked. Does anybody in here believe that we’re going to get any resolution remotely approaching the constraints this resolution has?’” Biden warned his colleagues, “Guess what? Your principle is going to kill a lot of Americans.” But the antiwar Democrats were intractable. At the end of the meeting, Senator Paul Wellstone, of Minnesota, and Senator Barbara Boxer, of California, left the room arm in arm, chuckling.