Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Ezra blogging

I'll be updating this post with my Ezra posts over the next couple days. Here's what I've got so far:

A denunciation of agribusiness, with suggestions for how to set up a better subsidy regime.

A discussion of how public opinion got Democratic Senators to vote for the Iraq War. With cartoon.

Snark about Pajamas Media, the blog that looks like a late-1999 dot-com.

Functions, Norms, and Dildos. The title speaks for itself.

Employment and the Minimum Wage. The former doesn't go down when the latter goes up.

3 comments:

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

By the way, I thought "The Power of Ridicule" was great and a needed insight. I think there really ought to be more slack-cutting for the "pro-war" senators for their vote, though perhaps not for various subsequent actions.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Thanks, Nicholas. I'm with you on the slack-cutting, as the post would suggest.

Rousseau said...

Sadly, I find the cartoon to be evidence to cut the pro-war Senators less slack, not more. The central point I saw in the cartoon was that “we were told” that they didn’t have weapons, and it was internal motives that convinced people to disregard that evidence, not any objective outlook (right or wrong) on the facts on the ground. All the liberal Senators were well aware that Hans Blix had been saying for a while that Saddam didn’t have weapons and we shouldn’t invade. They didn’t stand up for objective information from non-US sources, and we paid the price.

(This leads me to ruminations on how bad a rap proceduralism has gotten in our culture. The meme in 2002 was that we had a pretty good idea Saddam had weapons, we just couldn’t prove it; that it’s some sort of noble deontic sacrifice, like a criminal on a pop-legal show who had been wiretapped, but since it was unauthorized tap it was inadmissible and the criminal goes free, in the name of protecting our due rights. That’s not what proceduralism is about. Instead rather, the “evidence” we had was so shoddy that it was inadmissible and if it was admissible and arguments were opened to it, it could easily be shot down, and would degenerate into how much you trust INC defectors. Since that sort of argument is meaningless and fruitless, most legal systems use standards that only allow fruitful evidence. It’s like getting in consequentialist arguments with your Republican friends – it’s not that you resist telling him how flawed his tax policy would be for the good of his psyche, but that you know you will never convince him on consequentialist grounds anyway, since there is so much uncertainty in the world.)

Anyway, looking for proper context still makes me forgive the Democratic Senators. Just as they should have known better about the intelligence, let’s not act like they voted to unilaterally invade Iraq right now with 150,000 troops. There were 6 months between the vote and the war. There were serious reasons to believe a war could be headed off (especially if for instance, you believe if Saddam didn’t have weapons then he would prove it and agreements would be reached), and the vote was sold as a UN negotiating bargaining chip. There certainly weren’t discussions at that point in time as to how many troops would be used, what the post-war scenario would be, or how long we would plan to be there – and it was quite reasonable to expect to be consulted on this matter when war was actually at hand again. I feel in this context, the “incompetence dodge” is much more reasonable.