• Fast

    I see that Amanda Marcotte has a box of tissues for Robby Gordon, the Indy car driver who complained about Danica Patrick's weight advantage. All I've got for Robby is this link . -- Neil the Werewolf
  • What Rights There Are

    On my own blog, I never got around to commenting on the post where Ezra argued against the libertarian who said: Let's talk about health care for a minute. Health care is certainly a need, but it is not a right. And all the high sounding rhetoric in the world that says otherwise is baloney. Rights don't involve, involuntarily, the assets of others. Any 'right' to health care would make exactly that sort of demand on the assets of health care workers. Don't let libertarians get away with this. It's really hard to defend a notion of rights that doesn't involve, involuntarily, the assets of others. Consider the right to vote. For you to exercise this right, there need to be voting machines and ballots and people hired to count the ballots. Keeping a poor person from voting because he didn't have money to contribute to these things would still violate his right to vote. For his rights to be respected, others' assets would have to be deployed. Or consider criminal justice. For property...
  • Humanity

    Watch Tacitus equivocate : it's not convenience, but humanity that is the core question. Is the fetus, embyro, blastula, et al., human? There are only three possible answers: provably not, provably so, or possibly. We can discard the first, since even pro-abortion, anti-life types implicitly concede the humanity of the fertilized egg and beyond by dint of their position on stem cells, the purported utility of which is premised entirely upon their humanity. Tacitus uses the word "humanity" to mean two different things. In the first sense, the sense in which humanity is indeed important, having humanity is having a certain moral standing and deserving moral concern from others in something like the way that adult, living human beings do. In the second sense, having humanity or "being human" is simply a matter of falling into a particular biological category, as stem cells do. The two concepts are wholly distinct. Galadriel, Lt. Worf, and Chewbacca have humanity in the first sense but...
  • Memorial Day

    For all of the men and women who fought for the people of America, not just the soldiers in the trenches and battlefields who fought the foreign enemies of our people, but the union members who faced the Pinkertons, the marchers who faced the police and their dogs, and each person with the courage to speak out for the people: Thank you for your courage and sacrifices. I remember you, and will do my best to honor you with works and words. For the man who sacrificed a lifetime of peaceful nights for his service in a dirty war that few of us even know took place, and then spent the rest of his life serving our children: Thank you for your sacrifices and the lessons that you taught. May you at long last have the peace that you deserved. I remember you, and will do my best to honor you with works and words. For the young man who is just beginning his service to the people of America, even while he knows that he can not trust the leaders to which he has sworn obedience: I thank you for your...
  • Taking One For The Team

    Business Week steps forward with the obligatory article on how United Auto Worker intransigence is worsening Detroit's woes. But midway through the piece, a passage flashes by that explains the difference between yesteryear's take-one-for-the-team unions and today's seemingly immovable objects. The difference? At one point, there was, in fact, a team: When Chrysler wrung mid-contract cutbacks from the UAW in 1981, the company was strapped. Chrysler (DCX ) canceled its dividend, top execs took a 10% pay cut, and then-Chairman Lee A. Iacocca worked for a dollar that year. Today, both GM and Ford still pay a dividend, and GM CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. got a $2.5 million bonus for 2004 -- on top of his $2.2 million in salary. Both companies also have huge cash hoards -- $20 billion at GM and $23 billion at Ford. Until the companies are close to bankruptcy, union leaders see no reason to give up benefits. What Wagoner did to deserve that bonus is far beyond my limited comprehension (helped...
  • It's Just Hard Work

    David Sirota has been running a series of posts on the Senatorial bid of Rep. Bernie Sanders , (Democratic Socialist - Vermont). As I read it, Bernie Sanders has two lessons to teach the Democratic Party. First, that one can be an economic populist without the negative out-group Dixiecrat pandering to prejudice that flatters itself as "cultural conservatism". And before all of the "centrists" and Republicans out there start parroting the Club For Growth talking points about how Vermont is just another ultraliberal East Coast Volvo-latte-hippie dystopia and shouldn't really count, let's do some math.
  • Free Trade Here Now!

    A lot of people on the left are unhappy with American trade policy. They think corporations are profiting by keeping the Third World in poverty. They're right about this, but not exactly in the way that many of them think. As far as policy in the First World is concerned, it's our protectionism, not free trade, which impoverishes poor nations. That's why venerable relief organizations like Oxfam are pushing for America to permit more imports of foreign goods. (In poor countries, the story is different -- the relief organizations tend to support poor countries in protecting nascent industries and blocking imports.)
  • The Return of Brooks

    David Brooks's column today is the best I've seen him write since signing on with the Times . This is what he used to be like in The Atlantic -- playful, thought-provoking, idiosyncratic. Turned out he couldn't do that on a biweekly basis, so he gratefully slumped into the waiting arms of talking points and hackery, but somewhere, deep inside reasonable and non-threatening exterior, lurks the unique cultural critic everybody used to enjoy. Ezra
  • Home, Home Out of Range

    The LA Times has a great article on the housing bubble, and its stubborn unwillingness to pop, this morning. In it, they talk to a bunch of economists who've been predicting a crash for years now, only to see their best models and most educated guesses foiled by the market's relentless upward momentum. Best quote comes from Dean Baker, who you all remember from the Social Security wars. He writes: A year ago, Baker was so sure the collapse was at hand that he sold his Washington condo, which had tripled in value in the seven years he owned it. He moved two blocks away into a rental and wrote another article warning that "the crash of the housing market will not be pretty." He pointed out that housing prices traditionally didn't rise faster than inflation, but that on the coasts the price jumps were exceeding that level by double digits. He dismissed the argument that prices were increasing because of immigration, or the scarcity of land or the demographics of the baby boomers. Despite...
  • Primary Qualities

    If you were designing a system to pick a Democratic presidential nominee, it probably wouldn't look much like the current primary system. The Iowa / New Hampshire sequence helps candidates who've done favors for local politicians and who are willing to perform obscene acts of submission to Big Corn. No offense meant to Jeanne Shaheen or the corn lobby (actually, on second thought, let's offend the corn lobby), but these aren’t especially desirable features in a Presidential candidate. New Hampshire boosters say that putting their small state up front allows for more face-to-face "retail politics." But presidential elections aren't decided on the basis of retail politics, and we want the primary process to turn out the Democrat whose skills are optimized for winning the general election. Getting more people involved has all the usual advantages of democracy, and it allows for more generally positive media attention towards our candidates. In a crowded primary field, candidates are...