Friday Blogroll!

1)  In a not so surprising move by the anarchy that is the internet, some of the Sochi pictures are fake.  This is important, because Putin.

2)  Theological reflections on  the coca-cola ad.

3)  Rwanda’s former intel chief is currently on trial in France.

4)  An interesting piece on Francisco Franco’s cult of personality:  “To be sure, Franco, unlike Cosimo, made lots of public speeches during his life and said many well-documented things to ambassadors, ministers, and other political leaders. But one point that Preston’s biography brings out well is that it is very difficult to construct a coherent position for Franco from his public statements (though Preston tries valiantly). For one thing, he seems to have had no problems disregarding the truth when it was convenient for him to deny it, and he was alarmingly willing to change his position as circumstances or audiences changed. He could say anything with apparently complete conviction: he could be a monarchist one minute, a Falangista the next, and then assert his claim to being a true Spanish democrat. Yet Preston never quite succeeds in establishing that there was one thing Franco “really believed” underneath all the bullshitting and incoherence, some ideological commitment or fundamental interest beyond his maintenance in power that could account for the many different things he said. His key political talent, Preston notes more than once, was for “shroud[ing] his intentions in a cloud of nebulous vagueness” (Kindle Location 14849-14850). Since no one could be quite sure about his real commitments, these could be “read” in a variety of different ways at the time – as fundamentally sympathetic to the Falange, or fundamentally conservative and Catholic, or as those of an anti-communist warrior.”

5)  Economic reconstruction in Afghanistan is, of course, failing.

6)  House member renew call for Snowden to be tried as traitor:  “Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) read a statement that “Ed Snowden isn’t a whistleblower; he’s a traitor.” McKeon demanded that Snowden be “brought to justice.” Of course, the ultimate punishment for the crimes described by Thornberry and McKeon would be death.”

7)  The Rise of Libertarians:  This is an important piece from Max Borders, and it, true to form for Borders, is highly optimistic.  There are parts of it that I would challenge, of course, but the thrust of the argument is true:  libertarians are here, they are spontaneous and unpredictable within politics, even when their political identity is properly and sturdily defined.  They transcend party; which, Borders thinks, will dismiss party in the future (at least that seems to be his argument – and I’m skeptical of this), and that the coupling of highly decentralized (and democratic) form of technology with libertarianism (or something like it) is sparking political drifts and trends that the two clunky, major parties and their entrenched worldviews, are not agile enough to adapt to.  Thus – libertarians are here and they are here to stay.

Enjoy the weekend, boys and girls.


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 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.