Friday, December 16, 2005

Busy day

And because I'm busy, here's the short version of the whole day. (The "shorter" concept was of course stolen from the fine folks at BusyBusyBusy, who, I believe, stole it from someone else.)

Shorter conservative journalists:
It's naïve to think our opinions aren't for sale.
Shorter Copley News Service:
Fuck that.
Shorter Trent Lott:
Nothing I say has any meaning.
Shorter Bush administration:
We had to destroy your freedoms in order to save them. [See the village of Ben Tre.]
Shorter American people:
Bush sucks.
Oh yeah. There sure do seem to be a lot of crooked Republicans.

Special Nitpicker Flashback: Jonah Goldberg on the "slippery slope" and civil liberties from November 2001:
For all of the screeching about the thousand or so people being held in custody since September 11, there's no way you can compare it to the internment of the Japanese. If we were interning Arab or Muslim Americans there'd be millions of people in camps. Instead, "only" .0001% of that population is being held by the feds — and that's because they've all committed a crime of some kind, or, in one or two instances, are material witnesses to a crime...

The same thing holds true for pretty much every such civil-liberties "outrage" in American history. Habeas corpus was reinstated after the Civil War and, over the next century and a half, became an even stricter legal standard. After all of the revelations of the 1960s and 1970s vis-à-vis wiretaps, secret files, etc., Congress made it more, not less, difficult to abuse the civil rights of citizens. "If Bush has not gone even further in cracking down on terrorism," writes Charles Lane in the Washington Post, "it is because he is constrained by a legal and political culture far more favorable toward civil liberties than anything Lincoln, Wilson or FDR could have imagined."

This exposes the main problem with slippery-slope arguments. Much like conspiracy theories, they reflect more imagination and less hard thinking than usually required. When we go "too far" one way, we are more likely to swing back the other way than to keep sliding in the wrong direction. It's called the law of unintended consequences.
Of course Jonah's not quite ready for it to swing back yet.

Note also that Jonah calls the money that Bandow got on the side from Jack Abramoff a "paltry sum" even though the amount he made from that one little financial tributary is more than the median American income last year (PDF link) and far more than the average American soldier makes.

Shorter Jonah Goldberg: I'm full of shit and don't know what real work is like. (That one works with every Goldberg column.)


Blogger Leah A said...

Thank-you Terry, for this one. Perfectly expressed sentiments, perfect juxtaposition, and perfect graphic; and perfect that it comes from one like yourself, who knows the meaning of both service and hard work.

5:09 AM  

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