Tacos are my favorite food, and here’s your Friday blogroll!

1)  Full Text Reports on Trade offs in Immigration Enforcement.  Blurby:  “Policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic confront significant constraints in addressing the population of unauthorized migrants, not least with respect to insufficient resources to tackle illegal migration and legal frameworks that protect individuals regardless of their residence status. This report explores the trade-offs that policymakers face with respect to comprehensive enforcement efforts, which often have adverse consequences in related policy domains, such as public health and safety.”  

Related, here is Bryan Caplan highlighting a recent paper from Zachary Gochenour and Alex Nowrasteh on the political externalities of immigration.  

2)  New Book!  Islam after Communism:  Religion and Politics in Central Asia.  Adeed Khalib.  “How do Muslims relate to Islam in societies that experienced seventy years of Soviet rule? How did the utopian Bolshevik project of remaking the world by extirpating religion from it affect Central Asia? Adeeb Khalid combines insights from the study of both Islam and Soviet history to answer these questions. Arguing that the sustained Soviet assault on Islam destroyed patterns of Islamic learning and thoroughly de-Islamized public life, Khalid demonstrates that Islam became synonymous with tradition and was subordinated to powerful ethnonational identities that crystallized during the Soviet period. He shows how this legacy endures today and how, for the vast majority of the population, a return to Islam means the recovery of traditions destroyed under Communism.

Islam after Communism reasons that the fear of a rampant radical Islam that dominates both Western thought and many of Central Asia’s governments should be tempered with an understanding of the politics of antiterrorism, which allows governments to justify their own authoritarian policies by casting all opposition as extremist. Placing the Central Asian experience in the broad comparative perspective of the history of modern Islam, Khalid argues against essentialist views of Islam and Muslims and provides a nuanced and well-informed discussion of the forces at work in this crucial region.”

3)  Sobering analysis from Barbara Walter on how States track and monitor you.  There are ways to get around it, though, and she highlights in in the link.  These notes are expecially criticial for political protestors:  “The best thing protesters can do is leave their phone at home. This seems like the obvious choice as long as there is no guaranteed way to remain undetected while carrying a phone. Of course, the problem with this strategy is that it plays into the hands of governments who would like to impede demonstrators’ communications. Ukrainian protesters will have a much more difficult time mobilizing support and gaining international attention if real-time communication and videos stop.

The next best thing is to do what Edward Snowden did. Place an electromagnetic barrier around your phone to block radio signals. Snowden used a refrigerator but it appears that any metal container, such as a cocktail shaker, would also work. This strategy has the benefit of being more portable but the drawback of being potentially detectable if one’s phone comes too close to a cell tower.

Though I think, on the whole, the technological market has done things to liberate individuals, and has handed us the ability to know more about states than we have ever been able to know, it has also granted states access to know more about their citizens.  And if states are anything at all, at a bare minimum, they are information seekers.

4)  An outline of the interesting and complicated history of the Freemason and abolitionism.  “eighteenth-century Freemasonry recognized an aristocracy of the mind rather than an accidental aristocracy, i.e. a mere accident of birth. However, aristocrats and American Presidents, beginning with George Washington, wasted no time applying for membership in an aristocracy above aristocracy. They joined composers such as Joseph Haydn, the “White Mozart,” the composer of the all-but-Masonic Zauberflöte (K. 620) (The Magic Flute).  

In other words, eighteenth-century Freemasonry sought equality for both the “White Mozart,” who could never have married an aristocrat, and the “Black Mozart,” who could never have married a white woman. Freemasonry played an important role in the abolition of Slavery, but so did other elements and other groups, such as France’s Société des amis des Noirs (the Society of the Friends of the Blacks), the salons, cafés, etc.
5)  Two excellent posts at the legal theory blog Double Aspect.  One is on judicial review and the other on supermajorities and Constitutions.  A blurb from the latter, “To return now to the claim that the legitimacy of and citizens’ loyalty to a constitution depend on the breadth of the consensus on its contents, it seems to me that it leads to absurd consequences. Most obviously, it means no only that supermajority is better than simple majority, but also that unanimity is better than any other supermajority. Yet professors McGinnis and Rappaport are not arguing for unanimity. Perhaps that merely because it would be impractical. Perhaps also here is, in fact, a diminishing return on additional support, at least past a certain threshold. Yet it is not clear where that threshold lies, and whether it does in fact lie in supermajority territory. For some purposes―including elections in the Canada as well as in the U.S. ―we accept a plurality, not even a simple majority as sufficient for the win. Indeed, it is possible for a party or a candidate to win such elections without even a plurality of the national popular vote. It is reasonable to demand that a constitution, expected to endure for decades and even centuries, enjoy higher support than a politician elected to hold office for four or five years, but it is by no means clear just how much higher.”  
7)  Kevin Vallier at Bleeding Heart Libertarians asks if religious conservatives are welcome on the libertarian left.  He then goes through what makes a religious conservative (RC), and why left libertarians shouldn’t be as welcoming to RCs as they are.  My overly simplistic point would be simple:  in life, you chose who you associate with on a host of reasons, most of which are not religious or political.  This is one of the untold stories of liberalism.  The party of work and the bourgeoise, and of the market and the contract, has explicitly stated for decades now that when these associations are formed, you leave certain qualifiers and/or identifiers at the door.  So a group of RCs and LLs can get together for a conference about the history of classical liberalism, for instance, and still walk away as friends and to learn from each other.  And I’d have to imagine, either privately or publicly, these types of libertarians do, in fact, engage in critical analysis with one another; then walk away and share a joke and/or a beer.
I may be overly simplifying this here, but I think that is a reaction to a post which over analyzes what sparks human associations.
8)  Will Wilkinson on the State of the Union.  Damn near pitch perfect.  It also touches on the blatant and shameless use of a human prop who, after his TENTH tour of Afghanistan, came home in a coma after almost being killed by a roadside bomb.“Obama brought upon himself the circumstances requiring such a constrained, insipid speech. The scandal of his IRS targeting tea-party activists suggested that his administration was either corrupt or mismanaged. Had he honored his campaign pledge to restore the civil liberties eroded in George W. Bush’s war on terror, Edward Snowden would not have had evidence of the NSA’s massive violations of the Fourth Amendment to leak. The Afghanistan surge was an ultimately ineffective face-saving operation that sent more than 1,000 Cory Remburgs to early graves — an operation that his then–secretary of defense openly doubts he really believed in. Finally, the catastrophically inept rollout of the Affordable Care Act has sown doubt in the electorate about Obama’s honesty and competence to govern. Vehement Republican opposition, which has hampered implementation of the law at every level and stage, ought to have been a predictable consequence of ramming through transformative legislation along strictly partisan lines during a period of dire economic emergency. Yet the Obama administration seems to have been surprised to discover that there is more to governing than mustering the votes to pass a bill, and has dealt awkwardly with organized partisan resistance. Even those aspects of implementation fully within the administration’s control, such as the HealthCare.gov website, have been botched.”
10)  After 45 years, the Allman Brothers Band has decided to give it up.  They managed to merge soul, rock, jazz, and jam into a fusion that will remain on the American musical landscape forever.  Their original lineup is still one of the most talented groupings in the history of music.  Listen to them today.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezPZxfS1jys

Blogging is a luxury. Here’s the blogroll!

1)  There’s a push in Scandinavian countries to ban ‘non – therapeutic circumcision on boys.  “The Sweden Medical Association, which counts 85% of the country’s physicians as members, recommended setting twelve as the minimum age for the procedure and requiring a boy’s consent in a resolution which was unanimously passed by the ethics council, reported the Svenska Dagbladet.”   See also:   http://clrforum.org/2014/01/30/banning-circumcision-in-scandinavia/

2)  Medieval rules for sex, this time in flowchart form! Sexgraph.

3)  Switching roles when talking about colonialism and imperialism, “However, Sheermaal’s comparison of Lairds and Rajahs is important more because it shows that, in Hamilton’s eyes, British Imperialism does not begin with the crossing of an ocean. Rather, Scotland itself is an example of a country overrun by a cultural hegemon with which it chose to engage. From Sheermaal’s account, it is clear that the Scottish class structure has been largely cast aside in favor of English practices, as evidenced by his example of the Scottish lady who was “a person of family”. This reflects British imperial practices in India that drained the Brahmin and ruling castes of power.”

4)  New Book!:  Gettysburg Religion:  Redefinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North, Steve Longenecker.  “In the borderland between freedom and slavery, Gettysburg remains among the most legendary Civil War landmarks. A century and a half after the great battle, Cemetery Hill, the Seminary and its ridge, and the Peach Orchard remain powerful memories for their embodiment of the small-town North and their ability to touch themes vital to nineteenth-century religion. During this period, three patterns became particularly prominent: refinement, diversity, and war. In Gettysburg Religion, author Steve Longenecker explores the religious history of antebellum and Civil War–era Gettysburg, shedding light on the remarkable diversity of American religion and the intricate ways it interacted with the broader culture. Longenecker argues that Gettysburg religion revealed much about larger American society and about how trends in the Border North mirrored national developments. In many ways, Gettysburg and its surrounding Border North religion belonged to the future and signaled a coming pattern for modern America.”

4)  Why it’s wrong for interstate conflict scholars not the engage with intrastate conflict work (Part One – Part Two)”Transnational non-state actors are also relevant. ‘Refugee Warriors’ – military organizations operating in their country of origin but sustained by settlements in exile – exemplify this. The effectiveness of refugee warriors depends both on the protection of the international refugee regime, on the support of the host state, and on existing forms of organization and leadership within the exile population (Harpviken 2009). The use of consultants and mercenaries for state repression as well as the subcontracting of torture to non-state actors represents yet another area where the simultaneous consideration of interstate and intrastate scholarship would also be a lucrative area for future exploration (Rejali 2007).

Networks of violent actors constitute a different type of non-state actor. For example, terrorism, as a tactic, serves as a substitute for other forms of armed struggle in situations when groups are unable to build armed forces (Butler and Gates 2009). Nevertheless, terrorism can also thrive in the context of civil war in conjunction with guerrilla tactics. Terrorist networks, when employed transnationally, such as the al-Qaeda attack on New York and Washington, also blur the distinction between the intra and inter aspects of conflict. For us to address such factors we need to change how we think about conflict.”

5) A brief history of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.  Interestingly, it had some reparations…for the slave-owners.  “The Act provided for compensation for slave-owners who would be losing their property. The amount of money to be spent on the compensation claims was set at “the Sum of Twenty Millions Pounds Sterling.” Under the terms of the Act, the British government raised £20 million to pay out in compensation for the loss of the slaves as business assets to the registered owners of the freed slaves. The names listed in the returns for slave compensation show that ownership was spread over many hundreds of British families, many of them of high social standing. For example, Henry Phillpotts (then the Bishop of Exeter), with three others (as trustees and executors of the will of John Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley), was paid £12,700 for 665 slaves in the West Indies, whilst Henry Lascelles, 2nd Earl of Harewood received £26,309 for 2,554 slaves on 6 plantations. The majority of men and women who were awarded compensation under the 1833 Abolition Act are listed in a Parliamentary Return, entitled Slavery Abolition Act, which is an account of all moneys awarded by the Commissioners of Slave Compensation in the Parliamentary Papers 1837–8 Vol. 48.”

6)  War as a Meteor.

7)  Conor Friedersdorf with smart commentary on Obama, and how Hope and Change has quietly faded away.  It’s something I’ve thought about recently.  Obama rode in a, mostly, ideologically driven and spiritual way about the way government works in Washington – not just how it works, but who it works for.  The Obama of 2007-2008 will only be different from a 2016 Rand Paul in message.  What Paul hopes to capture is something like Obama did.  A wave mentality that it’s time to shake things up in Washington, but this time with a little more limited government flare.

I doubt this works, and part of the reason is because of Obama’s failure to change the conversation.  Hope and Change has turned into a Robotic, Lifeless, and Technocratic Liberalism that is neither inspiring or a change agent – and voters, I think, will turn more towards a “get stuff done” type of candidate in 2016, for better or worse.

This person will likely be a Governor or ex-Governor, with a record of real reform in the political direction that they deem appropriate – and who will be just enough palatable for a large part of Americans.  And if a Republican can get through his primary, I think that this person will be the next President.

Paul, just like Obama before him, only has Senatorial experience.  Will the electorate go for another “change agent” type again?  I remain skeptical.

8)  Sarah Skwire at the Institute for Liberal Studies.  Watch it.  Now.


Tortillas don’t have Vitamin A?! Also, here’s your Evening Blogroll!

1)  Damon Linker provides useful and relevant commentary on what divides Americans.  I’m less concerned, but the point remains:  there are certain things that will never be resolved, so, maybe stop trying?

2)  Legal Vigilantes are now working to combat Mexican cartels.

3)  The CATO Institute has a video which responds to the SOTU address.  It’s 12 minutes long, but it’s chock full of smart, pointed responses.  Give it a watch here.  

4)  The war in Afghanistan continues to be a waste.  Jonathan Turley highlights, “The literacy program for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) was a valid objective but, like so many in these wars, it appears to have been managed with almost willful blindness. There was not even a basic record of actual soldiers who achieved literacy. While the goal of the program was to make 100 percent of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) able to read at a first grade level and 50 percent literate at a third grade level, those goals are not viewed after five years and $200 million as “unrealistic” and unattainable.”

5)  Michael Bay ruined Transformers, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles look good!  Shredder is especially “bad-ass looking”

6)  Dr. Strangelove is 50 today, Mandrake.  Today is as good as any to monitor your precious bodily fluids.

7)  Edward Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. “Socialist lawmakers Baard Vegard Solhjell, a former environment minister, and Snorre Valen said Wednesday the public debate and policy changes “in the wake of Snowden’s whistleblowing has contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order.”

8)  Is it immoral to watch the Superbowl?  I don’t think so, but I think, even with football at its zenith as of now, that it is its zenith, and the sport is about to suffer an inevitably slow death.  Mainly due to stuff like this, “medical research has confirmed that football can cause catastrophic brain injury — not as a rare and unintended consequence, but as a routine byproduct of how the game is played. That puts us fans in a morally queasy position. We not only tolerate this brutality. We sponsor it, just by watching at home. We’re the reason the N.F.L. will earn $5 billion in television revenue alone next year, three times as much as its runner-up, Major League Baseball.

Never is this sponsorship more overt than next Sunday, for the Super Bowl has become an event of such magnitude that it ranks as a secular holiday at this point, as much a celebration of the sport’s ability to draw multimillion-dollar ads as the contest itself. More than 100 million people will watch the game. Most of my friends will be parked in front of their TVs. For the first time in 35 years, I won’t be among them.

Date night tonight, boys and girls.  Behave yourselves.

Did you hear what he said?!? Here’s your afternoon blogroll!!!

1)  Happy birthday, Thomas Paine! As Judith Shklar once mentioned, the thrust or strength of Paine was that he was able to make a very small pamphlet about a regional conflict into a global manifesto about transcendent issues that are still with us today.

2) David Beer’s book Punk Sociology sounds rad.  Here’s a blurb from a blog post of his:  “The book itself develops an idea I’ve previously written on, which is that we can draw upon alternative forms of knowledge in order to develop the repertoire of sociology and the social sciences. This draws on work by Howard Becker and others. The book responds directly to a range of debates on the future of sociology (including those in the picture below, amongst others)…. And here’s a review of the book from This Sociological Life.

3)  The 100 year anniversary of World War One continues to bring almost always sober analysis, both of what happened then and the world it left behind, and that the part of the world mostly suffering from the effects of the Great War are outside of Europe, “Fortunately, there was no relapse, because the West had learned its lessons from historical mistakes. Today, three factors loom large in the avoidance of disaster: the United States’ military presence in Europe, the progress of European integration, and Europe’s abandonment of great-power politics. Yet there is no point in fooling oneself: Only as long as the Balkan countries believe in the European Union and the benefits of membership will today’s precarious peace in the region become permanent.

No such hope currently exists for the Middle East, whose contemporary political borders were largely established by Britain and France during WWI, when the diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot negotiated the division of the Ottoman Empire. Likewise, the creation of Israel harks back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, whereby the subsequent British mandatory power in Palestine supported the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.

The Middle East created back then is, more or less, the Middle East today. Yet we are now witnessing its disintegration, because the Sykes-Picot design always implied a strong external hegemonic power (or two) able and willing to maintain stability by channeling (or suppressing) the region’s numerous conflicts. Great Britain and France, the first hegemonic powers, were succeeded by the US and the Soviet Union – and, finally, by the US alone.

America’s misadventure in Iraq, its exhaustion as a world power, and its unwillingness to maintain its previous level of commitment to the region have rendered the Sykes-Picot structure untenable, because no other external force for order is available. The resulting vacuum has been filled by various currents of political Islam, terrorism, protest movements, uprisings, secession attempts by national or religious minorities, and aspiring regional hegemons (Iran and Saudi Arabia).”  

4)  New Book:  The Jewish Jesus:  How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other, Peter Shafer.  Blurby: “In late antiquity, as Christianity emerged from Judaism, it was not only the new religion that was being influenced by the old. The rise and revolutionary challenge of Christianity also had a profound influence on rabbinic Judaism, which was itself just emerging and, like Christianity, trying to shape its own identity. In The Jewish Jesus, Peter Schäfer reveals the crucial ways in which various Jewish heresies, including Christianity, affected the development of rabbinic Judaism. The result is a demonstration of the deep mutual influence between the sister religions, one that calls into question hard and fast distinctions between orthodoxy and heresy, and even Judaism and Christianity, during the first centuries CE.”

5)  I wouldn’t go to Sochi.

6)  The mixed, and mostly bad, legacy of Yalta.

7)  I’m not sure what the correlation between literary “symbolism”, as described here, and our ever-present tendency to see things through art that confirms biases, but I thought this was interesting.  Of the authors mentioned and quoted, hardly any of them sought to provide a symbol.  The symbols came through the writing process, and not before.  

8) Judging the constitutionality of Obama’s remarks has a lot of wrinkles., via the Volokh Conspiracy (this was written prior to the speech).

9) The Aid Debate rages one.  Here’s is Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson arguing for robust, inclusive institutions as a way to really help Africa, and here is Ken Opalo saying, essentially, “yes, but…

10) Flags made out of regional food, and Buzzfeed gets trolled.  Hard.

Happy Wednesday!



Stop watching the State of the Union, Citizen! Here’s your Evening Blogroll!

Short and Sweet

1)  At the Volokh Conspiracy, an overview by Professor Nicholas Johnson over his book, Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/01/28/negroes-and-the-gun-slaves-fugitives-freemen-and-citizens/  “The Resistance at Christiana is especially notable not just because an entire armed black community rallied to defeated slave catchers. It is particularly evocative because of the detail provided in the written account by the central black hero, William Parker and by Fredrick Douglass who facilitated the final leg of the escape and later wrote this: “I could not look upon them as murderers. To me, they were heroic defenders of the just rights of man against man stealers and murderers.” When they parted ways at the border of Canada, Douglass reports, “I shook hands with my friends, and received from Parker the revolver that fell from the hand of the slaver Gorsuch when he died, presented now as a token of gratitude and a memento of the battle for liberty at Christiana.

Nineteenth century black men participated in the ultimate act of political violence, fighting bravely in the civil war. Many of them walked out of war into freedom carrying their service weapons and war prizes. They would need them.

Almost as soon as the shooting war stopped, Southern governments moved to reinstitute slavery through a variety of state and local laws, restricting every aspect of Negro life. Gun prohibition was a common theme of these “Black Codes.” 

Related though older link from Bleeding Heart Libertarians:  http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2011/08/what-are-you-going-to-do-with-your-gun/

2)  Barry Stocker continues to post excerpts from his new book on Kierkegaard.  Read. Them “Kierkegaard’s liking for original simplicity connects him with both the monarchism of Humboldt and the republicanism of Montesquieu and Rousseau.  As we have already seen, in The Limits of State Action (1993, 39-40), Humboldt states a preference for the simplicity of royal government, the choice of early free people which avoids the multitude of demands for state action which follow from other governmental regimes, as the monarchy clearly only serves in the functions of army commander and chief judge. For  Montesquieu, simple democratic republics in which there is little inequality, and laws are indistinguishable from customs, have an elevated role, though that is certainly not the end of his discussion of liberty (The Spirit of the Laws, Part 1). For Rousseau, the ideal republic will be simple, poor and equal, and laws will be accepted as part of customs (Social Contract, II.12). Rousseau accepts that modern states are mostly larger in territory, and more complex in function. Hume had argued that the original contract completely disappears in history, so we are constrained by general respect for laws and political institutions and the recognition that they are generally beneficial (‘Of the Original Contract’ in Hume 1987). Applying Kierkegaard’s argument in context, we can say that political systems which have more laws and more representation are worse than pure kingship, but necessary as more functional in the face of human limitations.”

3)  Monday was International Holocaust remembrance Day.  Here’s a reading list from Oxford University Press.

Have a fantastic evening.