Clarity

Anyone who didn’t predict 9-11, or something like it, ought to acknowledge that it was unexpected, and that his or her previous view of the world and how to operate in it therefore needed adjustment. The fact that most of the political class, including the commentariat, have discovered that the lessons of 9-11 are exactly what they used to believe, only more so, couldn’t be more depressing. It can’t be the case that the civil liberty/security tradeoff ought to be made in precisely the same way now as it was before 9-11, and any civil-liberties advocate who won’t say what he’s willing to give up in the new environment loses all credibility. By the same token, Bush and his warhawks would look a lot more serious if they weren’t proposing to finance their war with … tax cuts.

Along these lines, I have finally figured out what Bill Bennett means by the term “moral clarity.” He means: “See, you jerks? I was right all along!” (I don’t think any of the reviewers noticed that The Book of Virtues has no entry in its index for either “moderation” or “temperance.”) Michael Kinsley does a nice takedown of the banality of using “evil” as a thought-substitute.

On the other hand, Max Sawicky reminds us that if Bill Bennett didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him: apparently Snoop Doggy Dogg has a cameo in the new Muppet movie.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com