FRIDAY AFTERNOON METAETHICS HOUR. I don't want this to be misunderstood, but I'm a moral relativist. Or, rather, I reject moral realism, the view that "moral claims do purport to report facts and are true if they get the facts right. Moreover, they hold, at least some moral claims actually are true." This is a much-debated philosophical issue, but in punditland, it's just a term of abuse. Ergo, Fred Siegelwriting in Blueprint about the least-significant challenge currently facing America -- college professors who are too left-wing for Siegel's taste:
TOTALLY OFF-MESSAGE FRIDAY AFTERNOON POST. Some of my old New York friends and I have gotten into a discussion about the most popular television shows of all time. I made the case for The Flintstones. Hear me out.
Fred & Crew debuted in 1960 as a prime-time sitcom -- the first prime-time cartoon in TV history. It ran for six seasons on ABC, with 166 episodes produced. Since then, it has never been off the air. Ever. In fact, Rick discovered with some quick Googling that the Bedrock gang is on television in 80 different countries in 22 languages. Every single second of every single day, somewhere in the world, The Flintstones is airing.
EASY THERE ECONOMY, EASY...Paul Krugman is in fine form today, letting his inner economist roar forth for a quick lecture on the state of the economy, and why the stock market's drop over the last few days is worrisome. "The rise in stock prices that began last fall," he writes, "was essentially based on the belief that the U.S. economy can defy gravity -- that both individuals and the nation as a whole can spend more than their income, not on a temporary basis, but more or less indefinitely." And then comes the bad news.
THE APPLE FALLS FAR FROM THE TREE. Sounds like Labour's scion isn't too into, well, laboring. Euan Blair, progeny of Tony, has been stateside for the past couple of weeks, interning for Jane Harman. He lasted two weeks. According to subscription-only Roll Call, "Sources contend that it�s because the 22-year-old lad was a wee bit on the spoiled side. One source says Blair, who already had been accepted to graduate school at an Ivy League university this fall, seemed �bored� and uninterested in doing the work of other interns. A source who knew of Blair�s short tenure in Harman�s office said, 'He was a dilettante.'" Sounds charming.
THE MCCAIN BACKLASH CONTINUES. First Richard Cohen, now Michael Kinsley? That's bad new for the straight talk express, which relies on precisely these folks for fuel. Indeed, my hunch is that the McCain phenomenon is beginning an almost perfect reversal: as fresh and counterintuitive as lauding his 2000 candidacy was, the cool kids are going to grow proportionately alienated by his 2008 steamroller. Too much pandering, too much politics. And, sadly for McCain, his main policy break with independents and the left is on the country's most salient issue, the war.
MCCAIN AND WAR. I loved this line from Michael Kinsley on John McCain: He "has a unique genius for telling the truth from his heart and making people believe that he is lying. And these people are his supporters! They admire him as a straight-talking truth�teller, and they forgive him for taking positions on big issues that they find repellent on the grounds that he doesn't really mean what he says." I do think, though, that Kinsley actually misses part of the dynamic here.
WHY NOT SANCTIONS? Canadian immigrant Charles Krauthammer wants to build a wall across our southern border, rehashing the usual arguments and remarking, "Opponents pretend that these barriers can always be circumvented by, say, tunnels or clandestine entry by sea. Such arguments are transparently unserious. You're hardly going to get 500,000 illegals lining up outside a tunnel or on a pier. Such choke points are exactly how you would turn the current river of illegal immigrants into narrow streams -- which is all we need to turn the illegal immigration problem from out of control to eminently manageable."
The New York Times had an article this morning about efforts in Congress to renegotiate federal oil and gas leases that gave the industry a windfall projected to be $20 billion over the next 25 years. The sums at stake are not huge for the country or the industry (the $800 million annual windfall is less than 1 percent of the industry's current profits), but the story does show the impact that the media can have when they do their job.
PELOSI GOES SOFT. I agree with Ezra�s take on the Conyers plan and what it says about Pelosi�s possible tenure as Speaker. Perhaps this wouldn�t be the approach taken for all committee investigations, but Pelosi does seem intent on reinstating bipartisan cooperation. This morning�s CongressDaily (subscription only) reports that Pelosi says she will continue to support a Minority Bill of Rights, even if Democrats take back the House in November.
YOU DON'T HATE WHAT YOU DO KNOW.Bryan Caplanoffers data showing that the more immigration in your state, the likelier you are to be pro-immigrant. "The simplest interpretation of this result," he writes, "is that people who rarely see an immigrant can easily scapegoat them for everything wrong in the world. Personal experience doesn't get in the way of fantasy.