Annals of Bad Faith: “Bush on Bush”


NY Times review of Bush’s Decision Points:

Doubts arise about the depth of Bush’s principles in part because he so often clung to them even as he violated them. A typical Bush mind change goes like this: (1) I have always believed deeply that X. But (2) in this case X would cause vast human suffering or higher taxes or some other terrible tragedy that I couldn’t, as president, allow. Therefore (3) I will abandon X on this occasion. But (4) I still believe deeply that X.

Bush claims to have been the first president to really get tough on terrorism. “My decision” to invade Afghanistan “was a departure from America’s policies over the past two decades.” President Reagan withdrew American forces from Lebanon after Hezbollah bombed our Marine barracks there. President Clinton withdrew from Somalia when warlords shot down an American helicopter. He doesn’t mention his own father’s decision to stop the Persian Gulf war of 1991 at the Kuwait-Iraq border rather than proceed to Baghdad and take Saddam Hussein down. Bush concludes: “Terrorists had interpreted our lack of a serious response as a sign of weakness. . . . I was determined to change that impression.” So he made a serious response.  A pugnacious determination to be taken seriously is about half an inch below the surface of “Decision Points.” It’s poignant that even as a former two-term president, Bush should feel the need to strut the way he does. The book is full of maxims and advice. “I prided myself on my ability to make crisp and effective decisions,”

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SUNY-Albany: in the 9th Bolgia,8th Circle of the Inferno?


Gregory A. Petsko, Gyula and Katica Tauber Professor of Biochemistry & Chemistry at Brandeis University,wrote an open letter to George Phillip, President of SUNY Albany in his column in Genome Biology.  While there is much to quote, I found this passage particularly amusing:

It seems to me that the way you went about [announcing the closure of the departments in a Friday afternoon meeting] couldn’t have been more likely to alienate just about everybody on campus. In your position, I would have done everything possible to avoid that. I wouldn’t want to end up in the 9th Bolgia (ditch of stone) of the 8th Circle of the Inferno, where the great 14th century Italian poet Dante Alighieri put the sowers of discord. There, as they struggle in that pit for all eternity, a demon continually hacks their limbs apart, just as in life they divided others.

The Inferno is the first book of Dante’s Divine Comedy, one of the great works of the human imagination. There’s so much to learn from it about human weakness and folly. The faculty in your Italian department would be delighted to introduce you to its many wonders — if only you had an Italian department, which now, of course, you don’t.

Zing.  Read the complete article here

Accountability Regimes and Academic Life


Great article by Gaye Tuchman in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, “The Future of Wannabe U,” in which she continues her analysis of the accountability regime that drives the academic life:

Annually, other job and tenure candidates list how many articles and books they have published, how many talks they have delivered (including how many to which they were invited, and by whom), how many students they have advised and taught. Now and again, senior professors, writing letters to evaluate a candidate’s suitability to get or keep a job, provide their own lists. Sometimes they, too, are so intent on constructing them that they forget to discuss a candidate’s intellectual contributions. Last year, when presenting a distinguished-research award, a top Wannabe administrator noted that the recipient had published well more than 100 articles. He never said why those articles mattered. Continue reading

Ann Coulter: Once Banned Resurfaces!


First she told me I needed to be perfected, now she’s on the Today Show annoying the freakishly chipper Matt Lauer.  When will she find what she’s looking for?  You have to admit that without Ann Coulter life would be slightly more boring…

Anyway, here’s Ann Coulter doing whatever it is she does (which includes hating single mothers, it seems):

Rethinking Marxism CFP


Rethinking Marxism: CFP

RM09: New Marxian Times will be held over four days, beginning on Thursday evening, 5 November 2009 and ending on Sunday afternoon, 8 November 2009. In addition to two plenary sessions and an art exhibition, there will be concurrent panels, workshops, and art/cultural events. We invite the submission of organized sessions that follow traditional or non-traditional formats (such as workshops, roundtables, and dialogue among and between presenters and audience) as well as individual presentations. Since Marxism covers a wide variety of fields, from literature to public health and forms of political practice, from environmental organizing to opposing global inequality and envisioning new economic and social practice, anyone engaging with Marxism in any discipline or form of activism is encouraged to submit paper and panel proposals. We encourage those working in areas that intersect with Marxism, such as critical race theory, feminism, political economy, anarchist studies, cultural and literary studies, queer theory, working-class and labor studies, postcolonial studies, geography and urban studies, psychoanalysis, social and natural sciences, philosophy, and around issues of class, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, and disability, to submit proposals. We also welcome video, poetry, performance, and all other modes of presentation and cultural expression. Continue reading