Archive

  • Get Government On My Back!

    While I'm yelling advice at the Democratic Party, here's another one: Please abandon whatever instinct is driving you to cozy up to libertarians. I know Matt Welch's head probably just exploded, so let me explain: I've written before about why I don't think libertarianism is promising as a philosophical direction for Democrats. As Matt Yglesias has pointed out, liberalism is largely about using government to help people . As Jon Chait has observed, liberalism is also largely non-ideological . Both of these stand fundamentally opposed to liberalism, which is basically an ideological aversion to using government to help people. So we can embrace libertarianism, I guess, but if we do, we'd better explain why it's okay to shout about getting government out of your library records and abortion decisions, but it's fine to keep government's hand in your pocketbooks. Libertarianism elevates "freedom from government" to paramount ontological importance over other values, like freedom from fear...
  • Bluff-Calling for Dummies

    So, I guess my secret's out: I don't like being mean to illegal immigrants. I do, however, like being mean to the leadership of the Republican Party, which is why one of MoveOn's recent e-mails really kind of chafes my hindquarters. One of the nice things about being on MoveOn's mailing list is that it serves as a little pulse-of-liberal-activism memo delivered right to my inbox. Judging from this e-mail, the pulse is...er, slowing rapidly. The issue: Pat Robertson's recent assertion that the federal judiciary, intransigent in its refusal to reverse the tyrannical and undemocratic measures imposed on our nation by a man elected to the presidency four times, has become a greater threat to America than "a few bearded terrorists." Yikes! This certainly calls for some hard-core condemning! So, what's my beef with MoveOn? It has primarily to do with this exhortation to members: Last Sunday, Pat Robertson went on national television to say liberal judges posed a greater threat to America...
  • The EU Comes In Handy

    Speaking of nuclear stuff: Longtime readers of my blog know that I've taken something of an interest in the European Union. Today, Xinhua is reporting that Iran doesn't want the EU to give up the ghost on stalling its nuclear progress: Iran warned the European Union (EU) Sunday that the next round of negotiators between the two sides will be the last chance to save the stalled nuclear talks. "Iran has decided to negotiate with the European trio (France, Germany and Britain) for one more time upon their request, and the upcoming meeting will be their last chance," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told a weekly news briefing. One problem: In the same article, it is revealed that Iran's parliament voted to resume uranium enrichment activities. If this whole thing were a movie script, the EU would currently be cast in the role of "Iran's patsy." In the short-term, this isn't so bad: The EU is still mostly a united front with the US, at least in terms of strategic objectives,...
  • When will Nuclear Energy be safe enough?

    Like Mark Kleiman, I believe that the spectre of global warming is so serious that, in addition to curbing our energy usage, nuclear power should not be off the table. What's the good of worrying about how to keep the nuclear waste safe for hundreds of thousands of years if, at the rate we're pumping out greenhouse gasses and pollutants, there won't be much of a civilization left in a few thousand years? Having said that, I also don't like the idea of energy cowboys, like the guys who ran Enron, blazing in lobbyists in a tow and building plants on the cheap. Nathan Newman raises a good point regarding the recent flurry of lobbying for government subsidies of nuclear plants: But these proposed subsidies are chicken feed compared to the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, which limits the insurance liability of nuclear reactors in case of a meltdown. Yep, if there's a catastrophic accident, the taxpayer is stuck with the bill. My view is that nuclear might be worth exploring, but if private...
  • The Nightmare Scenario

    (Via Calculated Risk ) Bank of America put out some dire words yesterday. Run for cover! "...the debt financed spending spree of consumers is petering out while the almost unprecedented surge in government spending looks increasingly unsustainable" "Skyrocketing house prices" had enabled consumers to draw down "staggering" levels of mortgage equity for spending. But the "multiplying" effect of the boom was running out under the delayed impact of earlier rate rises. "We cannot rule out a nightmare scenario in which a decline in consumption caused by a sudden correction in house prices would lead to an explosive rise in the fiscal deficit that would have to be addressed by a tighter fiscal policy," Oh, wait. They're just talking about Britain. Phew. Nothing like that can ever happen here, right? --Battlepanda
  • Let's (Not) Get Mean

    Hey again, Ezrafficionados. Much thanks to Ezra for once again tossing this opportunity my way; it's a pleasure to be back. I think we're going to have some fun this weekend, as I have a few decent rants planned. Due to a scheduling thing, I won't be posting much until later this evening. For now, I want to flag some weird advice from the Democrats' answer to Jeff Foxworthy, Dave "I Actually Make People Call Me 'Mudcat'" Saunders: "Bubba doesn’t call them illegal immigrants. He calls them illegal aliens. If the Democrats put illegal aliens in their bait can, we’re going to come home with a bunch of white males in the boat." Okay, listen. I know Democrats have to be more sensitive to the cultural concerns of white guys. On some fronts, I'm sympathetic to that impulse. But it seems like a lot of advice Democrats have been getting lately amounts, essentially, to "Be rhetorically meaner to group X," and that kind of bothers me. First, it's bad politics, because people can smell a phony a...
  • A Libertarian for bailing out United

    I don't know if it is bad form to drag an on-going debate to a guest blog, but here it goes. Jane Galt took exception to my characterization of the United Airlines pension bailout by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp as corporate welfare . In fact, she went on to write lengthy posts defending the decision to let United offload their pension obligations onto the PBGC. Shouldn't somebody take her libertarian card away? Jane's objections: 1) It's not exactly corporate welfare The PBGC, while it is grossly underfunded, isn't exactly "corporate welfare"; it's a government-chartered pension insurer, which forces pension plans to pay it premiums (the worse shape their pension/company is in, the higher the premium), and in return regulates the hell out of the pension plans. It is not incorporated for the benefit of the corporations, who do not like either the premiums or the regulation; it is for the benefit of the workers. I guess I have a broader definition of corporate welfare than Jane...
  • eBay for Workers?

    Hi again, everyone. It's Angelica, a.k.a Battlepanda. I'm going to be filling in this weekend. Has anyone here heard about Jobdumping.de ? I blogged about it a few days ago at my blog because it is an interesting idea that I don't know exactly what make of, so I just thought I'd mention it here to see what people think. It's a kind of reverse eBay for workers that got started in Germany. You post a job listing (typically freelance in nature) and wait for people who want that job to bid down the price of their labor. Sounds pretty Hobbesian, right? And indeed the unions and many politicians are up in arms about it. But when the unemployment rate in Germany is up there at 12.5%, it seems foolish to denounce any venue of job creation. Make no mistake. I am pro-union. I think the power assymetry between individuals on the one hand and corporations on the other requires collective bargaining for workers to get a fair shake. But JobDumping's target customers are different...these are jobs...
  • Weekend Guest Stars

    Battle Panda and Daniel Munz will be helping me out this weekend. Better recognize.
  • Holy Skirmishes

    Kevin writes : Matt Yglesias wonders if liberals spend too much of their energy fighting meaningless fights against religious symbolism...I think he's right, and I say that from the perspective of someone who's such a stone atheist that I'm pretty sure it's not philosophically possible to be more atheist than me. Still, there are fights and there are fights, and some are more worth fighting than others. Evolution? Worth fighting over, even if it costs us. Prayer in public classrooms? I'm agin it, but let's face facts: we won 98% of this battle long ago. The last 2% probably isn't worth too much bloodshed. Creche scenes in front of city hall? Lighten up. That's right, and I hear it a lot. The problem is that liberals, broadly defined, aren't the folks fighting these battles. Democratic legislators aren't scouring the nation's public lawns for nativity scenes. In fact, most of us just don't care. It's a small set of liberally- affiliated organizations waging these battles. The ACLU,...

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