Libertarianism and Good Manners | Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Where utilitarians overlap with bleeding heart libertarians – we agree on the need for a civil society. Libertarians don’t want that civil society to be imposed by government. Utilitarians don’t really care HOW it comes about, as long as it does.

Libertarianism and Good Manners | Bleeding Heart Libertarians

CNN, The Supreme Court and health care: The race to be first claims another victim

Andrew Sullivan may be the quintessential blogger, giving us the mix of news, analysis and link-sharing to show us what the medium is capable of doing. No exception today, as he live-blogged the ruling and added some insights from himself and others.

And he doesn’t mind pointing out where others — not just the usual political blowhards, but CNN and Fox — are getting it wrong:

11.43 am. Cable news needs to shut itself down. They failed high school newspaper tests this morning. There’s no excuse whatsoever. They really ought to be ashamed. Covering live events is all they’re really good for any more, if you are not partial to screeching propaganda or pure CNN tedium. And they even (bleep) that up – in a way many pajama-clad amateurs didn’t.

And he’s right, for the most part.

Court opinions can’t always be summarized in a few seconds. Taking the time to read the equivalent of “the mandate isn’t allowed under the Commerce Clause, but because of X, Y and Z, it’s OK to enforce with a tax” is essential. With all due modesty, a then-young grad student at Duke figured all this out more than a decade ago.

And yet some people never learn. Check out Bloomberg’s attempt to take credit for “beating” AP.

It was also, as Sullivan implies with his “pajama-clad amateurs” a good day for some bloggers. Particularly SCOTUSblog, which kept up a tremendous blow-by-blow account as it went through the opinions.

Not that Sullivan’s blog or SCOTUSblog are run by “pajama-clad amateurs.” SCOTUSblog is, ironically, sponsored by Bloomberg Law. Sullivan is now essentially part of Newsweek.

What we’re really seeing here is the blurring of media types. A “blog” is simply a publishing tool. A professional lawyer with some plain-English writing skills may technically be an “amateur” journalist, but that’s meaningless. And when a group like SCOTUSblog takes it time to get it right in a fully transparent way, the medium is working.

What I hope in the long run for journalism is this:

1. We need to keep the news-gathering infrastructure alive. That’s the sad part of CNN’s disaster today. As my fellow USA TODAY alum A.J. Perez said, CNN has bet it all on broadcasting news rather than opinion, and they were already losing that bet before today.

2. We need more people like Sullivan who aren’t beholden to a particular point of view. Sullivan is conservative, though perhaps not in the 2012 Tea Party sense of the word. I love his catchphrase “Biased and Balanced.”

Coincidentally, someone has insisted to me recently that Fox is more honest than other media because it’s honest about its agenda. I can’t accept that. For one thing, it assumes everyone has an agenda other than news-gathering, and I can tell you from 20 years of experience that isn’t true. For another, it’s too simple to say “left” will report “left” and “right” will report “right.”

An institution like Fox that brings the bias from on high through newsroom memos. An individual like Sullivan can be up front about his views (and prove that he’s not beholden to those who share at least a few of them). Newsroom bias is far more complicated.

The bottom line: We need a diversity of honest voices. We need them to compete in ways other than speed-reading and typing.

And then we need someone to pay for it all.

Simple, right?

Is the album dead? No, say Rush and Smashing Pumpkins

They made albums. They defend their choices.

Geddy Lee and Billy Corgan talk albums vs singles | MusicRadar.com.

It’s a fun read, but they omit something important about trying to revive the “album” as a format: The “album” grew longer in the CD age. In most cases, that’s not good.

Which leads me to my early review of Clockwork Angels: It’s really good, except that many of the songs are 2-3 minutes too long.

The humanities are important — really!

A solid case here from Duke’s Peter Burian, though I’m not sure it’s going to persuade many people outside the converted:

What we must do is insist — loudly and repeatedly — that liberal education aspires to make people not merely successful but also fulfilled, not merely autonomous thinkers but also contributing citizens, engaged and creative participants in the community. We must show how grounding in the humanities can put political and social issues into perspective and provide new perspectives on our values and beliefs.

via Essay on how to defend the humanities | Inside Higher Ed.

The problem is you’ll still have computer programmers who insist they know everything, laboring under the mistaken belief that computer code requires more brain power than philosophy. I still haven’t figured out the best way to persuade them otherwise — probably because I was always better at computer programming than philosophy, even though I majored in the latter.

Maybe we could start an ad campaign …

Getting professors to write for the outside world

Today, a lot of academic writing looks like this:

To a discussion by political philosophers a mere fact woman like me, an economic historian trained in the 1960s as a transportation economist, has really only one thing to contribute. It is, to slightly modify Cromwell’s imprecation to the Scottish Presbyterians in 1650, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be [factually] mistaken.”

Factually. I realize that Kant laid it down that what humans are factually like, or what their history factually was, is forbidden to play a part in ethical reflection. We are supposed to be looking for principles that any Rational Creature would adhere to, whether a six-headed being in outer space or the man on the Clapham omnibus. As an economist I can see the charm in assuming a character Max U, or Rational R, and then proceeding. And I know that most social psychologists (I except among the younger generation Jonathan Haidt, for example, or, Mike Csíkszentmiháyli of my generation, or Jerome Bruner of an earlier generation) find it charming to believe that ethics starts with their own earliest experiments. Such models and experiments are a lot simpler than reflecting in addition on art and literature and philosophy since the Rig Veda and the Epic of Gilgamesh. But the modern cleverness after Hobbes and then Kant and Bentham and now with the fierce modernists of freakonomics and hedonic measurement seems less relevant to human experience—which is after all why we would want an ethical theory in the first place—than the virtue-talk of the ages.

Sadly, Google Translate has no “Academic-ese to English” function, so I have no idea what she’s saying. I was a philosophy major and read a little bit of Kant, but I spent more of my time studying the ancient Greeks and logic than the post-Hume crowd. Also, I wasn’t very good at it.

That academic background still puts me a few steps ahead of 99.9% of the people who might stumble upon this blog, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, which sounds like a lively, unique addition to the political blogosphere but instead seems aimed toward people who have spent their academic careers debating Rawls. (Sadly, not Lou.)

So let’s watch Three-Minute Philosophy on Immanuel Kant and see if we can decipher what we just read:

Hmmmmm … no.

The point here isn’t to pick on Bleeding Heart Libertarians, even though picking on libertarians is one of my favorite pastimes. Besides, Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart identifies himself as a “bleeding heart libertarian,” so I have to maintain a bit of sympathy toward the movement even if they’re speaking Greek to me.

The point is that academics have been isolating themselves in the ivory tower for decades. The rare exceptions don’t help — see Michael Eric Dyson’s commencement speech at North Carolina in which he related to the audience by citing Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know and making a complete mess of the lyrics. The problem is so old that I wrote a column about it back in the pre-Internet days in which I attended college. (So, sorry, no link.)

So I’m encouraged by this story of a university and newspaper getting together to put faculty voices out there. Beats the heck out of listening to the same old tired pundits who parachute from topic to topic.

Good luck …

The Elon University Writers Syndicate – Madison Taylor : Burlington Times News.