The Spectacle Blog

Rosen on Roe

By on 5.3.06 | 10:12AM

In this interview in The Atlantic Online, center-left law professor Jeffrey Rosen gets into a fascinating discussion about Roe v. Wade and its effect on American politics for the past 33 years. Rosen's thesis that the Supreme Court should somehow function as "the most democratic branch" of government is sheer nonsense, but Rosen at least maintains some intellectual consistency within that rather untenable argument, and meanwhile his other insights are acutely perceptive. Oh, and by the way, Rosen, who considers himself pro-choice, has always said that Roe was wrongly, or at least poorly, decided.

Lone Coburn

By on 5.2.06 | 10:35PM

Speaking of senators good and bad, it's a shame that Tom Coburn is the lone crusader on earmarks in the Senate. (John McCain is his "Sancho Panza" -- sidekick suits him well.)

The Party of Specter

By on 5.2.06 | 5:48PM

It should come as no surprise that Sen. Arlen Specter is supporting the liberal Republican leadership in the Pennsylvania statehouse against their conservative primary opponents. Again, we ask, what hath the GOP wrought in supporting Snarlin' Arlen in 2004?

Those legislators are the ones who voted themselves and the Pennsylvania judiciary an unconstitutional pay raise last year, detailed here.

Re: White guilt

By on 5.2.06 | 4:43PM

Shelby Steele left out something important -- the source of even worse white guilt in Europe. Imagine what it must have been like to see one of your fellow countries, a renowned source of sophistication and artistic achievement, the country of Goethe and Beethoven and Schiller, succumb to the tribal barbarities of Nazism -- and then do its best to conquer the world under that savage banner.

No surprise that Europe as a whole reacted against the Nazi plague by turning its back on nationalism, tradition, religion, and Western philosophy. Today, in Germany, some 35-40 percent of Germans believe George Bush plotted and executed the attacks of 9/11. Those who purport to believe in nothing will believe anything.

The End of McCain?

By on 5.2.06 | 3:35PM

Conservatives have had many reasons over the years to differ with Sen. John McCain: his opposition to tax cuts, campaign finance reform, and his tendency to act like a Democrat on anything not related to defense or earmarks. Bottom line: most conservatives with memories don't trust the man.

But now all voters have a chance to rally against the man. D.C. Examiner goes after the Senator today for his arrogance.

Apparently his intemperate side cropped up last week, and he had this to say about free speech versus "reform": "I would rather have a clean government than one where, quote, First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."

That, my friends, is why John McCain shouldn't be president, in principle. And why he may not make it, practically. This quote will come back to haunt him.

Re Race Case AND White Guilt

By on 5.2.06 | 1:43PM

I think y'all's discussions on guilt, etc., actually fit right in with my post earlier today on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. How else to explain its continued existence, and the vow from Bush and Specter and company to renew it, except with reference to misplaced guilt?

Re: White guilt and the rest

By on 5.2.06 | 1:31PM

Lawrence, Paul, I cheer to see this conversation joined. It's perhaps the most important of all. The boomers, like we subsequent generations, seem unfairly fated to die. But there's a solution for that, too.

Philip Rieff, whose tocsin I shall keep sounding, refers us to Donner Professor of Science at MIT, and founder of that school's Artificial Intelligence Laboratories, Marvin Minsky:

"Should we robotize ourselves and stop dying? I think the answer is clear for the long run because in a few billion years the sun will eventually burn out and everything we've done will go to waste. [...] Is it possible, with artificial intelligence, to conquer death? [...] Then eventually there'd be no room for more new people, and that would raise more problems."

Minsky gave us that little wonder of scientific fantasizing back in 1985, a year that science itself has since left deep in the dust. Fukuyama too predicted "our posthuman future," but science, like always, lends only a helping hand. Posthumanity is, in fact, just a culture away.

Re: White guilt and the rest

By on 5.2.06 | 12:12PM

James, Paul, I think about this subject a lot, and I keep coming back to the fact that, from about 1850 onwards, there have been titans in the world of ideas devoted to destroying at least some part of Western Civilization: Marx, Dewey, Freud, et al.

My take on one aspect of the question, "The Baby Boomers are Going to Die," from Enter State Right in 1999, here.