Friday, December 29, 2006

Watchers Council Winners

[posted by Callimachus]

The latest round of Watchers Council winners has been posted.

First place within the council went to Follow Your Surges from right here. I'm grateful for the honor, especially considering some of the strong entries this time, such as The Coming of Neo-Multilateralism at American Future, which is a breathtakingly thorough and yet readable account of an important issue.

Votes also went to IRANIAN Military Seized in Raid on Iraqi Insurgents -- (And the NYT Deplores It) by Joshuapundit, on a much-noted and much-parsed news story, and the excellent The Dark Side of "Traditional Values" at Right Wing Nut House, which takes the Real American position on the controversy over a Congressman being sworn in on the Quran.

Outside the council, the winner was From Khomeini to Ahmadinejad by Matthias Küntzel (the piece has been translated from German), which looks at the current confrontation between America and Iran in the light of 1979.

Second place went to Is Federalism Tainted by Slavery and Jim Crow? by Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy. This post interested me particularly, not just because of my long study of pre-Civil War U.S. history and my fondness for the old federal republic this place used to be. It also tickled me to see one of my own web sites, Slavery in the North, figure into the discussion.

Ilya writes an honest post, and overall makes his points. But I can't quite agree with him that "in 1787, a unitary national rule on slavery would have probably resulted in nationwide slavery ...." If you look at the map, it's true, just about every state in the new union had legal slavery. So you'd naturally conclude a nearly universal institution would receive constitutional sanction if it was put to a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote.

But if you look at American attitudes in 1787, you'd see a high degree of agreement that slavery was dying, and ought to die, and was an unhealthy institution for a young republic as well as being unprofitable. There was more agreement on this issue, North and South, at that point than at any time before or after, until 1865. In fact, the leading proponents of ending slavery came from Virginia.

If it had come down to a vote by states, I am pretty certain every delegation but South Carolina and Georgia would have agreed to setting a firm end date for slavery in America. The Georgians at that point were too weak and too reliant on the federal government for protection from the Indians and the Spanish to go it alone. Only South Carolina might have raised a ruckus and walked out.

Three years later, of course, a Yankee invented the cotton gin and the whole picture changed.

Votes also went to The Sandy Berger Experiment: Bush Official Destroyed 9/11 Documents by Doug Ross, which cleverly imagines the media response if it had been Condi Rice, not a Clinton official, who ended up getting caught stealing and destroying 9/11 documents from the National Archives.

Also getting votes were Emaciated or Emancipated? by The Possum Bistro, which looks at some of the proposals kicking around for what to try next in Iraq, and Nifong's Sinking Ship by Durham-in-Wonderland, which has been the Blogging Johnny on the Spot in the Duke University non-rape case.