Saturday, May 31, 2003

Discussion: The Revolutionary Threshold

Please excuse any chaos in my thoughts, as I have not fully ripened them. But I still wanted to add whatever I could to this conversation.

I'm not sure that Montesquieu and Orwell are all that similar. Without reading Montesquieu's The Spirit of Laws, which is where I presume Montesquieu expresses the opinion set out in the Foreign Policy article, I understand this quote as an observation that people's expectations are what matters more than actual position. If the majority observes a disparity in wealth or condition, they are more likely to revolt because the inequality is salient. I apologize to Montesquieu if that is not his position, but it makes sense to me.

While Montesquieu seems to focus on the ideal conditions for revolution, Joe's statement of Orwell seems to focus on the locus of revolutionary change. Joe's contention is well formed and supported by the examples he gives. But without a more developed understanding of history, I cannot add to or challenge this contention. Assuming it is true, then, let me offer one possible explanation why revolution occurs in the middle- (or upper-middle) class. Ryan, I beseech you to clarify or correct any part of the following as necessary. There is a humanistic branch of motivational psychology (is this the same/related to behavioral psychology?) most well-recognized by Abraham Maslow's theory of the "Hierarchy of Needs," well summarized here. In short, Maslow theorized that lower-level needs (psychological and safety needs) must be satisfied before we are to pursue higher aims, like esteem needs and self-actualization.

I suggest that revolution only becomes a pursuit of some threshold segment of society when other, lower-level needs are met. Because the middle-class as a group is more likely to feel safe and needs to devote considerably less effort toward the basics, they may turn their attention to higher ideals like freedom, equality, and justice. One might wonder, then, why it is the middle-class alone and not all of the upper segment of society that joins in this revolutionary spirit, but I think there is a ready and self-evident reply. The highest of society becomes blind to these ideals by greed and self-interest, just as the lower realms of society are made ignorant by their desire to satisfy basic desires.

Apparently, I am not the first to stumble on this argument. Professor Ronald Inglehart wrote a book entitled, The silent revolution: Changing values and political styles among western publics. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1977), discussing how an increase in wealth might lead to less focus on materialism, which in turn could mean greater political participation. An interesting critique of Professor Inglehart may be found here.

The only challenge I have to this line of thought is that, if authors like Robert H. Frank (Luxury Fever) are correct, wealth is always relative, so materialism is more like a treadmill than part of the hierarchy. Again, it may be perception that matters most--if people perceive that their material needs are satisfied, they may indeed turn to higher ideals (freedom, justice, and equality), but there seems to be no end to material desire.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Discussion: The Revolutionary Threshold

Joe, I think this has some interesting implications for the external revolutions (most recently Afghanistan and Iraq). What happens when oppressed individuals are suddenly "released" from the regime that had oppressed them? If Montesquieu is right, then these people might just begin to carry out their own internal revolution after experiencing the change associated with the external revolution. A clear demonstration of this in Iraq occurred with the Shiite demonstrations. I'm not sure I have seen any evidence of internal revolution or change in Afghanistan, where the culture is generally less educated than in Iraq. It seems to me that an interaction takes place between rising expectations and education (and likely other factors). If a sufficient level of education exists (whatever that is) along with rising expectations for change, this class is likely to lead further change. Perhaps the poor/uneducated are relatively unable to organize in an effective manner? Or is it that they just don't comprehend the improvements that could be made in their lives?
Discussion: The Revolutionary Threshold

I had a brief discussion with Barry a couple weeks ago regarding the thresholds of social change, and was brought back to that reading the Foreign Policy Mag article on North Korea. In the article the authors reference the position of pre-revolution French philosopher Montesquieu that "revolutions don't occur when the people's conditions are at rock bottom but when reform creates a spiral of expectations that spurs people to action against the old stultifying system."

It's an interesting statement. There are some echoes of it in Orwell's "1984", which delves into the subject of revolution and how to create a society wherein revolution is impossible. His position is that popular revolutions only occur when driven by the efforts of the upper-middle class to bring social reform. The poor and downtrodden present no threat, on their own, to the social order, and are regarded as such by Big Brother.

Discarding revolutions largely driven by outside influence (Iran, Afghanistan, and such), it is difficult to find a counter-example to this theory. China, perhaps, but it would be highly debatable. In the US, the colonists were by no means downtrodden and in fact were in many ways well off compared to their European counterparts. And it was the new and more equitable social structure of the New World that put their expectations at such a level that the revolution occurred. In France and Russia, revolution was preceded by an effort by aristocrats to limit the power of the king. They rallied popular support for these efforts, creating expectations in the people that these limited reforms could not meet, setting the stage for rebellion. In the Soviet Union, Gorbachev's sweeping reform policies of Glasnost and Perestroika were clearly instrumental in the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The flip-side of this proposition is demonstrated by the failure of the embargoes of Cuba and Iraq. Constant outside pressure created an atmosphere of paranoia where the aristocrats had no breathing room to consider reform. The people of these nations were left so destitute and hopeless that little effort was ever made to topple their governments.

And in the end, this ties back, once again, to the inescapable discussion of the role of the intellectuals (typically aristocrats) in guiding the plebes and its impact on the structure of government. Can the plebes truly be made politically enlightened? And if not, where does that leave democracy and the Enlightenment vision of equality?

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Article: Didn't Get the Memo

Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill was run out of town last December for having independent opinions in an administration where being "on message" is the single greatest criteria for holding office. A study he intiated continued in his absence and is now coming back to haunt the administration even as they try to bury it. The report found that we're on track to more than $44 trillion in budget deficits. Let it not be said that we don't set our goals high.
Follow-up article: There's No Business Like Show Business (But We Can't Talk About It)

On May 19, Joe posted a link to an article about Jessica Lynch. As a follow up, the Washington Post reports today in this article that Jessica Lynch's parents have been hushed, because there is an "ongoing investigation." I suspect that any investigation will continue well through the next election.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Follow-up article: Rumsfeld's Intel

If you want to get to the bottom of the shaky intel, I'd suggest researching the DoD's Office of Special Plans, which the Sec Def whipped up when the CIA and DIA came up short on the Patriot-o-meter. A google search turns up tons of links, including a couple of left-leaning British papers. Noticeably absent are any major US papers, networks, news channels, or the BBC.. My favorite is Warblogging's "Faith-Based Intelligence" (the title alone wins points).

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Article: US Plans to Send 20,000 More Troops to Iraq; and at the same time, Congress Hacks Taxes with a Machete

Wake Up CNN, NYTimes, and the Rest of the Slacker American Media!

We find ourselves in a pitiful state of domestic affairs when we who search for truth must find it in the foreign media. Especially on Memorial Day weekend, when you would expect that troops going out to defend the pax americana might make for a good news story. Even the Pentagon's own website, where you might expect some patriotic back-slapping bon voyage to the 20,000 troops and their families. What a disgrace. George, you have anything to say about sending 20,000 more troops to clean up your mess during today's radio address?

Why, of course. not. G.W. is too busy touting his tax-cut and spend policy. Someone needs to tell him that the federal budget deficit is not just monopoly money, and learn to trust his advisors, like Alan Greenspan, who sees little to gain from the cuts, according to this article in the Washington Times. The tax cuts are well summarized in this Christian Science Monitor article. Bush seems to be putting all of his stock in Treasury Secretary John Snow, who praised the tax cuts (his comments may be found here).
Follow-up article: Democrats Question Whether Bush 'Hyped' Iraq Threat

Hmm. Do I sense that the fit is about to hit the shan for Bush's House of Cards?

Friday, May 23, 2003

Article: Bush administration pressed intelligence agencies for dirt to support the war

This article appeared on BBC's website yesterday and was featured on last night's BBC World News, contending that the Bush administration (Rumsfeld in particular) became irritated with the CIA because of disagreements over whether there were sufficient links between Saddam and al-Qaeda (the picture of Rumsfeld is very Hitler-esque). The BBC article cites the New York Times as breaking the story. You can find the New York Times article here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

From the X-Files folder: The Other Boys' Weekend

Apparently we weren't the only ones having a boys' weekend. The Illuminati were having their little get together too. Details are scarce, but there's a little more analysis in Asia Times. It's some bizarre, creepy freaking stuff, and if ever anyone were seeking fuel for conspiracy theories, this is it. On the other hand, renting out an entire hotel in the French countryside is something we may want to consider for the next Boys' Weekend..
Radio Article: "Paying for It."

I heard this great radio story on Monday's edition of Marketplace. It was part 1 of a series focusing on the economics of higher education. Very depressing, but worth a listen. The series has some links to webpages dedicated to this topic that are worth exploring if you find this an interesting topic (as I do).

Monday, May 19, 2003

Article: There's No Business Like Show Business

This article, which oddly was on BBC last night, but was pulled by this morning, and has now reappeared on The Guardian discusses the selling of the Jessica Lynch story. The most interesting part is where they mention that the idea of embedded reporters came from discussions with the evilest man in Hollywood, Jerry Bruckheimer. I should have known it... I wonder if this story was too racy for the BBC.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Weekend Wrap-up: The Importance of Being Pork

After another fantastic Boys' Weekend, I'm just going to try and quickly rehash the main topics covered in case anyone wants to pick up the discussions here. Feel free to add others I may have forgotten (I'm sure there are a few).


  • Political systems/economics/behavioralism. Huge sweeping discussion of democracy, oligarchies, economic influence on politics. How are the behavioral flaws of the masses best handled in political systems, the intellectuals vs the plebes. Long time recurring topic of Boys' Weekends...

  • Regulation and the "Free Market". How best should the market be regulated? How to define economic goals and structure competition? Do insurance agents deserve to live?

  • Here Piggy, Piggy. What exactly would a person do with 15 lbs of pork?

  • The Two Party System. Determining the merits of a two party system vs a coalition government. How do they affect voter choice? Does the relative merits differ in the real-world vs theoretical (corruption free) formulations?

  • The Price of Freedom. Is there really anything more Patriotic than Kingsford Charcoal (tm)?

  • Fiscal Policy and CapEx. Is there any sense whatsoever behind supply-side economics? What is the real impact of stimulus on the demand side? Is there a segment that lies somewhere between the two that could directly increase corporate capital expenditures?

  • Global Politics and Militarization. What are the likely impact and ramifications of increasing use of the US military? Is it possible or worthwhile to invest in a monopolistic military standing to exert superpower political influence as a sole superpower? What is the real role of the military given existing politcal conditions?


Thursday, May 15, 2003

Discussion: Wealth Tax v. Income Tax v. Consumption Tax v. ???

I apologize for my prolonged absence. I was reviewing some old posts, and thought I would share a comment, however belated it may be.

In Joe's Post of April 17, 2003, , Joe advocated for a wealth tax system. He highlighted fairness, practicality, and wealth regulation as three arguments that favored his position. Discussing wealth regulation, Joe posited that wealth disparity is correlated with and leads to political instability:

Further, (and I'm sure this will get me into a great deal of trouble) I think there is a role for the government to regulate and redistribute wealth. It is unhealthy for any society to have too uneven a distribution of wealth. When wealth becomes too concentrated in too few places the social structure becomes inherently unstable. Additionally the presence of a strong middle class is vital to the healthy function of a democracy. Democracy can be corrupted all too easily by money, and as such allowing people to amass vast wealth subverts the democratic process and allows those people to exert a much greater influence over the political system than anyone else.

I share Joe's sentiment, but there is an article in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy discussing the causes for Civil War (entitled The Market for Civil War) that gave me some pause. In it, Paul Collier dismisses income inequality as a catalyst for internal strife:

For example, income inequality and ethnic-religious diversity are frequently cited as causes for conflict. Yet surprisingly, inequality--either of household incomes or of land ownership--does not appear to increase systematically the risk of civil war. Brazil got away with its high inequality; Columbia didn't.

Collier goes on to argue that economic conditions generally "remain paramount in explaining civil wars." That is, it is not the distribution of income, but average quality that matters most (the author argues "the risk reaches nearly 80 percent"). Natural resources also play a large role, according to Collier's analysis.

The story also notes that, much "to the dismay of demoncratization activists, democracy fails to reduce the risk of civil war, at least in low-income countries." Too late for that chunk of information. Afghanistan, Iraq: sorry. No harm, no foul?

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Discussion: Taxation of Wealth

Hello all.

I was just reading some of the posts (and talking about it with Barry) and wanted to throw a few cents in on the tax issue. First, I am in favor of a progressive wealth tax. This is for two reasons. The people with the most wealth can most afford to pay and these same people are the ones who benefit most from the main function of government which is to prevent people (whether from within the nation or without) from beating other people up and taking their stuff. Whoever has the most stuff needs the protection the most.

It seems silly to me that somebody like me who makes a great salary but has $150,000 in loans and 0 in the bank pays the same tax as someone who sits on their ass with a fat bank account on which they earn $125,000 in interest. Nor do I think that it is practical to attempt to limit inheritances. There are always accountants who can figure how to transfer excess wealth to the people the transferor wants to, through gifts, joint ownership, corporate formation or some other tool. I understand that a wealth tax would potentially discourage saving, but there is a difference between saving enough to live on in old age and hoarding a massive fortune. Through the progressive nature, it shouldn't be too hard to lay off the former while reaching the latter. After all, assuming the total revenue collected remains the same, the people in my position would have to foot less of the bill and could save more. Besides, consumption is a good thing in that it keeps the economy running strong. Economic problems result when large chunks of the nation's wealth is socked away where neither the public nor the private sector can reach it. Besides, with the revenue collected, it shouldn't be too hard for the government to provide enough for a basic existence to the needy among retirees; the choice would then be whether to save enough to have more than a basic existence in retirement or consume and take what is offered. Either way is fine. Second, it is wealth that the police force, the fire fighters, and the army are protecting--not income or consumed goods. Therefore, it seems only fair that those with the most wealth pay more for these services.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Editorial: 5 9's and Fighting Terrorism

Reading Joe Klein's piece in the recent Time Magazine regarding the Democratic hopefuls for 2004 election I was quite disappointed with the position he advocated on national security issues. He seems to feel that the Democrats should simply appear as a somewhat weaker version of Bush, supporting the same basic positions, but not taking such an aggressive stance. According to Klein, they simply need to meet a certain threshold of credibility on security, which they can do by supporting the security measures advocated by the administration.

I disagree. Security will obviously be a major issue in this election. More so than it deserves to be, but such is life. Being a weak-sister to Bush's hawkish, paternalistic self-assured position will be a serious liability. There is no threshold which will magically level the playing field on this issue. The people in love with the aggressive Bush approach will still vote for him even if the Democrats act like a kinder, gentler version of the same thing. But there are many people across the political spectrum who want an alternative. Parroting Bush is not the only way to appear strong on security. Instead there is a very credible position that can be taken to promote security that points out weaknesses of the Bush administration. This comes in two parts,prevention and recovery.

To prevent terrorism, aggressive unilateralism surely can't be the only viable approach. Promoting the value of diplomacy and strengthening international relationships both to weaken the popular elements of anti-Americanism and to build partnerships for investigating and dismantling terrorist organizations would be a welcome alternative for the American people. The Bush administration has been broadly criticized on this account, even within their own party. To agree with the Bush administration on their anti-terror policy and raise this issue as an aside would be a mistake. This failure should be kept front and center in any discussion of national security. Fostering strong diplomatic relations, boosting our international image, and launching a massive multilateral operation to seek and destroy terrorist organizations will do far more to combat terrorism than any war in Iraq ever could.

On the home front, recovery needs to be the name of the game. When creating systems that are expected to be 99.999% effective, as is a major focus for us in telecommunications, recovery is as important as fault prevention, and in many ways more important. The closer one gets to the 5 9's standard the more difficult it is to predict where the next fault may occur, and thus more difficult to anticipate it and prevent it. Terrorism falls very much into this case. It would be sheer foolishness to believe we can secure this nation from every avenue of attack. It is simply not possible. We can take action to prevent the obvious attacks, but it will be trivial for terrorists to find unanticipated means to attack us. Herein lies another major weakness of the Bush administration.

With recovery, the challenges are known. We don't need to know the exact method that would be used for the attacks, but rather the broad areas where we're vulnerable. We can measure how long it takes for the authorities to respond to various types of crises. We can figure out how to mitigate the impact of attacks before they occur. We can plan it out, we can drill it, we can measure the improvements. With recovery, we can be guaranteed tangible results.

For the purpose of prevention, sweeping and invasive laws have been passed and many tens of billions of dollars committed. But to recovery? Lip service and hardly a penny of funding. Dictates are given to state and local governments demanding their preparedness to respond to attacks, even as federal funding to those government organizations is slashed to fuel questionable tax cuts, and even as those governments are facing their most severe budget crises in decades. The focus of the Bush administration on prevention within the US is both futile and damaging to civil rights and the freedom and liberty they claim to hold sacred. The funding and focus from the federal government would be better applied to responding to and containing terrorist attacks should they occur.

There is an opportunity for the issue of national security to be a strength for Democratic candidates, rather than a weakness for them to try to gloss over. On this issue, as on many others, they need to find a way to be leaders rather than a cheap knock-off. There is a huge window of opportunity for them to do so, but the writing is already on the wall that this will be just one more failure for the Democratic party and their inept strategists. They seem to be stuck in the same state of denial that led them to authorize the war on Iraq with the belief that doing so would make national security a non-issue for the mid-term elections. Instead they merely strengthened the administration's position on what was the key issue in those elections and what will again, unfortunately, be the key issue in 2004. And I will again be stuck with the feeling that as much as the administration disgusts me, the Democrats deserve to lose.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Article: Barry is on the Money

There is a story on BBC marking the descent of the dollar and pound against the Euro. Apparently investors don't realize the true impact of the upcoming $700b tax cut. It's a little known fact that the US debt clock only has 15 digits, so once it hits $10t it rolls back to zero. We're well on our way!

Update: there is now another article documenting the rise of the Euro.
Article: Guerrilla Warfare is the Life For Me

Posted on the CS Monitor today is this article, welcoming back our friends the Taliban. I had to laugh a bit at the part where Salam mentions that Russia supplies them with weapons and money. Highly unlikely, but an amusing thought nonetheless. I don't doubt there are people in the Russian military who'd like to.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Discussion: Taxation of Wealth and other ramblings

Joe, thanks for the clarifications on the flat tax. It still seems to me that it could be a very fair and simple method of taxation - the debate here seems to be about whether we tax all wealth in addition to (or excluding) income. This seems like a very challenging issue - exactly what wealth do we tax and how do we value it? Who decides the value? If I own land, should the number of trees, water resources, minerals, etc., be accounted for in determining its value? Some, but not all of these factors, may be accounted for in the present market value.

On another note, I am wary about letting the federal government have such access to wealth taxation. They seem to have proven themselves fairly incompetent at managing taxpayer funds. I would be reticent to give them any more. If there were an extensive wealth tax (whether flat, progressive, or whatever) I think that the state, county, or municipality should take precedence. All we need is another trillion dollars for our B2 bombers and missle defense that isn't worth my own ass. Yup, I know, Jefferson vs. Adams all over again. I don't think this debate will ever end (unless Dubya has the ring, of course). By the way, speaking of State vs. Federal rights, I thought you might find the commentary below on Mr. Ashcroft interesting. It's from the latest issue of The Economist.

FYI, I am also in favor of a forfeiture of wealth upon death, although I see no reason for the threshold to be so high. Any reason for $50 million, Barry? Who needs that much money? Another cool idea would be to allow the soon-to-be-dead dude to alot money over the threshold to soon-to-be-dead dude's favorite charities. Is there any such provision in current tax law? At any rate, I propose something like $1 million as the threshold for forfeiture.

In other news, I thought you might be interested in reactions to the Oxfam Fair Trade Report that have been published and are linked on the Oxfam web site. I haven't looked at them yet, but it appears that there are arguments for and against the Oxfam story.
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United States: Steamroller Ashcroft; Lexington
The Economist; London; May 3, 2003;

Volume: 367
Issue: 8322
Start Page: 56
ISSN: 00130613
Full Text:
(Copyright 2003 The Economist Newspaper Ltd. All rights reserved.)

Conservatives beware: an out-of-control attorney-general is trampling on your principles

SO FAR, the debate about John Ashcroft has focused mainly on the war against terrorism. Libertarians moan that the hyperactive attorney-general has hugely expanded the government's power to monitor citizens (by wiretapping their telephones and so on); that he has made it much easier to detain and deport immigrants and foreign visitors, particularly Arabs; and that he has ruthlessly accumulated power over the country's sprawling judicial system in his own hands. Conservatives wearily retort that wars force everybody to rethink the balance between freedom and security. Surely the attorney-general is duty-bound to err on the side of vigilance to thwart another September 11th?

Well, yes. But what if you examine Mr Ashcroft's record in other areas, such as medical marijuana, assisted suicide and the death penalty? You find precisely the same pattern of John-knows-best centralisation. The country's terror-fighter has also become the country's self-appointed moraliser-in-chief. And he is trampling all over two conservative principles he used to espouse: limited government and localism.

Begin with an idea precious to most Republicans: states' rights. Mr Ashcroft has prosecuted "medical marijuana" users in California despite a state initiative legalising the practice. He has tried numerous ploys to challenge Oregon's assisted-suicide law (including encouraging the Drug Enforcement Administration to revoke the licences of participating doctors), thus snubbing both the state, which has passed the law not once but twice, and the Supreme Court, which has explicitly left policymaking in this area to the states. He has repeatedly tried to bully local federal prosecutors into seeking the death penalty, despite a long tradition of local discretion in death-penalty cases.

Mr Ashcroft's new reverence for central government is beginning to seem downright Democratic, if not Gallic. The whole point of the American political system is its sensitivity to local differences. Federalism, as Justice Louis Brandeis put it, means "that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country." It also means that a huge country with a richly diverse population can try lots of different approaches to moral issues. People in rural Nebraska can adopt a different approach to lap-dancing from people in San Francisco; Vermont can demonstrate its uniqueness by favouring both gay marriage and tight controls on internet porn.

"Moral federalism" has deep roots in America. The English Parliament's Act of Toleration (1689) left religious issues almost entirely to local discretion. People with different religious views congregated in different regions--Puritans in Boston, Catholics in Maryland and so on. The Founding Fathers laboured mightily to keep the federal government out of dictating civic virtue. James Madison noted (in Federalist Paper 56) that different groups progress at different speeds. Alexander Hamilton (in Federalist 17) argued that any attempt to impose a centralised morality would be "as troublesome as it would be nugatory". The local administration of justice is "the most powerful, most universal and most attractive source of popular obedience and attachment".

This tradition of moral federalism would seem particularly practical now. The country is still basically split down the middle politically, and this political divide reflects a deeper division about values. When it comes to matters such as God and sex, many of the people who voted for George Bush live in a different moral universe from Al Gore's supporters.

There are clearly some areas where the federal government has to step in to protect individual rights. It was right to use its might to dismantle segregation in the South. Mr Ashcroft has legal grounds to argue that the constitution guarantees individual citizens the right to bear arms. But in general the Justice Department needs to err on the side of caution on issues where reasonable people can disagree. It should recognise that different communities have very different views: large cities, for instance, voted for Mr Gore by a 71% to 26% margin, while small towns and rural areas voted for Mr Bush by 59% to 38%. And it should try, as far as possible, to allow those communities to make decisions for themselves, rather than forcing them to bow the knee to Washington. Agreeing to disagree offers the country the best chance of avoiding an endless culture war in which both sides use the federal government to enforce their views.

Nobody should be more worried about Mr Ashcroft than conservatives. Hasn't it usually been the Democratic Party that has championed big government and Washington-knows-best morality? And hasn't it usually been the Republican Party that has stood for local variety? In the 1990s the Republicans owed many of their biggest successes--from welfare reform to school vouchers--to their enthusiasm for federalism. Mr Bush owes his job partly to the quintessentially federalist Electoral College.

A mistake by any measure

Mr Ashcroft's conversion into a centraliser is both hypocritical and short-sighted. It is hypocritical because Mr Ashcroft was once a leading critic of big government. As attorney-general and then senator for Missouri, he resisted a federal injunction to desegregate St Louis's schools so vigorously that the Southern Partisan, a neo-Confederate magazine, singled him out for praise.

It is short-sighted because, as an evangelical who refrains from smoking, drinking, dancing and looking at nude statues, Mr Ashcroft represents a minority in his own party, let alone the country. He has no chance of winning the culture wars: the forces arrayed against him, from the media to the universities, are too vast. The best he can hope for is a live-and-let-live attitude that gives minority views like his own room to flourish. Mr Ashcroft will come to rue his Faustian bargain with the federal government the next time a Democrat sits in his office.