The most dangerous “state” belief–I’m sure it is sincere

Convincing oneself that one is following a valid process, to do something one’s own lawyers believe to be legal, to achieve something  appropriate that others in the future will confirm by following this example must surely be one of the most common and self-deceptive journeys upon which the human mind can embark.

“For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.”

via Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists – The Washington Post.


UPDATE 1- A Reversal–The “Komen Rule?” -Board Member quotation says it all, whichever side one is on…


But on Friday, Komen said that it will “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”

From the Washington Post story this morning:

Komen board member John Raffaelli said the board voted unanimously in October to change its grant-making criteria, including adding a rule that bans grants to organizations under investigation”

It is no secret that in our governmental system police, a prosecutor, and/or agrand jury (under certain constraints of law) can investigate broadly.  Less understood is that Congress can investigate anything it chooses whenever it chooses for any reason it chooses.  Whichever party holds a majority in one of the houses of Congress can employ the “investigatory power” to public or partisan purposes as it wishes.

Given the sensitivities regarding Planned Parenthood in our current political environment, Komen’s adoption of the principle stated above was an action of high political character and its board knew that (as the full story sets out) when it acted.

What’s most troubling is that the principle held any appeal (and it holds appeal to other organizations to suspend or cease activity with the subject of investigations) when the very point of an investigation is to secure an accurate answer.

Suspension (not breaking, in my view) with people being investigated by police, prosecutors and grand juries for certain kinds of illegal or criminal activity is called for in many cases.  The same should not be the case when the investigation is by Congress.  The price of its broad span of investigatory power must be that there ought not be a penalty imposed prior to the published findings of the investigation.

“American Exceptionalism,” Some facts, ruminations and clarifications…

The term “American Exceptionalism” has taken a real beating in our political discourse in recent years, primarily being used by the right as a club to beat the left for believing we should work with other countries and not seek international situations in which to involve ourselves militarily if we can solve the problems with other countries through diplomacy.

The idea of American exceptionalism has a real history.  It is well to know it and to know when it is being perverted or turned to partisan use.

Michael Lind on Christopher Hitchens…

Michael Lind on Christopher Hitchens…

Michael Lind writes a fine post in Salon on Christopher Hitchens, the roles ascribed to him in the US and the UK, and draws out some fine distinctions between public intellectuals, the attributes of scholarship and what much of our journalism and much of the blogosphere have come to think they represent.

At this time in the world, serious scholarship meeting high standards in its research and the logic of its conclusions is vital.

We also face the task of getting that serious work into the hands of decision makers who are willing to be moved by it.  To some extent the blogosphere seems to have been more successful getting it its work into the hands of those who will listen and follow than in doing the preliminary work to ensure the quality of what it puts forth.

A worthy effort off to a bumbling start (?) How amateurism injures nonprofit sector credibility…

The New York Times carries a story this morning that reeks of well-intentioned amateurs (or totally disingenuous jerks) trying to start a national program which, if it could be done successfully, might be a worthy use of tax funds. Oddly enough, as one reads the defensive statements of the spokesperson, one has to notice that the idea of replicating processes of other grant-making government agencies, didn’t seem to occur to the people in charge of this new one, even though the purpose of this fund is to identify effective nonprofit programs that might be successfully replicated.

The people in charge of this program came to it from the nonprofit sector.  Now what they’ve done right out of the box will feed the largely destructive maw of Senator Grassley and do damage to the credibility of nonprofits.  Business men, always quick to offer solutions to nonprofits, will once more suggest the use of more business methods in a sector that can only adopt methods selectively if it is to carry out its mission.

Have we really gone 53 days since the Gulf oil spill began and rejected help?

This item comes from the Heritage Foundation which rarely represents my views but, to the extent this is true and it seems to be, it borders on scandalous.

Not all ideas or offers are equal but it is highly unlikely to me that none of these is worthy of close, prompt, review and implementation.