Archive

  • Notwithstanding

    Hi everybody--I'm Scott from Lawyers, Guns & Money . Many thanks to Ezra for allowing me to post at his terrific blog, and to have included me in such a distinguished group of writers. I thought I would make a few extremely wonky posts about democracy and judicial power, while relying on the other fine guest bloggers to provide posts that you will want to read. In my recent post about the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a Quebec law banning the sale of private health insurance, a couple commenters asked about Canada’s “Notwithstanding” clause, which Matthew Yglesias has also endorsed recently. So I thought I’d explain it, as an introduction to thinking about judicial review and its democratic legitimacy...
  • Addiction to a Way of Life

    Thanks to Ezra for giving The Oil Drum a voice on this forum. My colleagues and I are going to be posting on what we, our involved community over at TOD , a growing community of bloggers , and a growing number of experts in many related fields, believe to be the pressing problem of our generation: we all see the petroleum economy as the fundamental lynchpin of our present democratic society and geopolitical system. The problem is that cheap oil/energy/gas is quietly fading into history, as evidenced by rising oil prices approaching $60/bbl today. (fyi, adjusted for inflation, the highest prices for an entire year were in 1981 and averaged around $66/bbl, with a day spike of $95/bbl). The real and tangible crisis of supply and demand is now inevitable, whether the coming crisis arrives in six months or in four years, or whether the crisis arrives in a slow, secular fashion or as a cataclysmic "shock," lives around the world are going to change.
  • Endtroducing...

    I'm taking a week off, heading up to the mountains with the girlfriend. Sadly, this'll actually make the site much better. Filling in will be: • Scott Lemieux, an assistant professor of political science at Hunter College and one of the excellent bloggers helming Lawyers, Guns and Money; • The Jew, who writes the smart blog of almost the same name; • Prof Goose, who'll be filling you all in on energy policy and can generally be found at The Oil Drum ; • Shakespeare's Sister , who needs no introduction but will bring you all up to date on the Downing Street Memos; • And Matthew Holt , a health care consultant who'll be adding some professional expertise to all the pronouncements us armchair health care strategists keep offering. I'll be quite surprised if you all want me back. Anyway, it should be a fun week around here, so keep checking in -- there'll be lots to learn.
  • Elections in Iran

    In the week's most underblogged story (wherefore art thou, Democracy Arsenal ?), the Iranian elections are rapidly hurtling towards the nightmare scenario. The reformers have been demolished, though it's uncertain whether that's by voter rejection or fraud, and what's left is unsavory at best, dangerous at worst. When the polls first closed, the government announced that Rafsanjani (a former president and general pragmatist), Mostafa Moin (a reformer in Khatami's vein), and the conservative Qalibaf would be entering into runoff. The next morning, that was amended. The new runoff would be between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, the xenophobic, anti-American, ultraconservative mayor of Tehran. In this context, the reformers, fearful of Ahmadinejab's particular brand of Islamic intolerance, have thrown their weight behind longtime foe Rafsanjani in the hopes that their voters won't sit out the runoff and hand the election to the truly insane. What's going on is pretty unclear. Assuming there...
  • Elizabeth Anderson Will Set You Free

    The full moon is out, and I'm about to change into my werewolf form and run off into the night, performing various ethical deeds. But while I'm still a mild-mannered philosopher, let me point anyone interested in political philosophy to Elizabeth Anderson's latest post . It contrasts two kinds of freedom -- freedom as non-interference and freedom as expanding one's opportunity set. The former is the one emphasized by libertarians, but the latter is the one that's worth caring about. If the only kind of freedom that matters is that no one intentionally interfere with one's formal freedom of action, and not that one's opportunity set be large and full of worthwhile options, then freedom-lovers would have to oppose traffic laws, stop lights, and so forth, for interfering with freedom of movement... By contrast, if we give up certain formal freedoms--to run red lights and stop signs, to drive indiscriminately across lanes--we get in return a vastly expanded opportunity set, including the...
  • A Strike Against Canonization

    Yeah yeah, not the most credible source, but if true...
  • The Personal Isn't Political

    David Brooks' paean to the pre-Senate Bill Frist is a puzzling piece of work. I mean, I'm as glad as the next guy that Frist broke off his engagement, has loyal friends, and wrote an occasionally self-critical memoir, but really, who cares? Since hitting the Senate chambers, He's been such a stunning flop, such a weak-willed opportunist, such a hapless, outmaneuvered patsy that the conversation on him is really over. After all, good men can be great in private, but the presidency demands great men able to excel in public. For that reason, Frist's private persona and trail of well-wishing acquaintances is as immaterial as his favorite sandwich, the proving ground was his ability to stand firm and do right while in front of the cameras. Unfortunately, he spent his days slavishly courting interest groups, using the Senate as a promotional vehicle, and finding himself caught hand in cookie jar each time the media turned on the lights. Having Schiavo proved blind after Frist tele-diagnosed...
  • Things happen in Gitmo

    The first time I saw the "What Happens in Gitmo Stays in Gitmo" T-shirts , I thought some liberal group was selling them to call attention to prisoner abuse and to the government's ability to control the news flow out of Guantanamo. Furthermore, anything that makes people more aware of the existence of Guantanamo hurts Bush more than it helps him. As it turns out, the shirts are being sold by Rush Limbaugh. Don't buy them, I guess, because Rush will get your money and he'll just blow it on drugs. But be happy that Republicans will advertise our position by wearing them. And what's with putting in that apostrophe to make it "G'itmo", anyway? -- Neil the Ethical Werewolf
  • You Trust Me? Really? Why?

    Powerful article in the Times today about the real-world impacts, effects, and uses of Social Security. The piece profiles a set of seniors in Grand Rapids, digging into how Social Security affects, and in some cases, dictates their lives. One quote in particular stood out: But others, like James Townsend, who worked as a forklift operator, defend the traditional program. "If they hadn't had Social Security, I wouldn't have saved that money," he said. "If I'd had extra money, I'd have spent it. I wouldn't have anything at all." Generally, that strikes me as the primary divide between those in philosophical solidarity with private investment and those ideologically opposed. Putting aside clawbacks and phase-out and everything else, would you support a competently structured privatization program? Republicans answering the question usually say yes because they "trust people with their own money". That always struck me as hopelessly naive. In a society where the average man on the street...
  • Gird Your Loins

    A few days ago, Kevin Drum was worried that pushing aggressively for a pullout from Iraq would get Democrats tarred as the party that lost the war. Kevin isn't arguing against pullout -- he spends much of the post attacking delusional people who think we can beseech the Troops Fairy for another 100,000 soldiers, and then acknowledges that withdrawing is all we can do. Only then does he go into Gloomy Kevin mode, bemoaning the evils that might befall us after the troops leave. Fear not, O moderate Democrat, and hearken to the whirlwind that rides the Downing Street Memos. As the realization that we're in a quagmire develops outside the Democratic Party, we reach the moment when criticisms of the Bush Administration's non-planning for reconstruction will have maximum impact. (Thanks for the link, Shakespeare's Sister .) Now is the time to press -- the more intensely people are aware that Bush's lack a postwar plan saddled us with this dismal set of choices, the less likely it is that we...

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