Reflecting on Condeleezza Rice's reminiscing about her "special time" sitting down with the Palestinians, Matt Yglesias observes:
Apparently she treasured that moment on the West Bank so much that she decided to ensure it would forever be the high point of Palestinian living. Thus, after telling the Palestinians they’d be subjected to endless Israeli occupation until they held an election, they held an election and were told they’d be subjected to endless Israeli occupation because the wrong party won. And then with the wrong party in office, Rice backed efforts to overthrow the Hamas-led government by force. That led to a civil war, a breakdown of Palestinian institutions, and a new line from Washington that the Palestinians have to be subjected to endless Israeli occupation because the Palestinian side lacks a coherent government to negotiate with. And these are her finest memories!
The irresponsibility and callousness of libertarianism is summed up well in this deep thought by Andrew Sullivan:
The point of capitalism is that actions have consequences. Once that market discipline is removed for a few of the worst, ill-managed, union-crippled companies in America, the stage is set for endless mediocrity, government-run industry (i.e. even more endless mediocrity), and a free-for-all at the government trough. A clear majority of Americans agree, in the new WaPo poll. If this intensifies the recession, so be it. Recessions are sometimes necessary for long-term economic health. And the bigger and sharper it is now the more time Obama has to recover from it. Let them die.
Look: If the only issue were moribund companies falling by the wayside because they made an obsolete product that people weren't buying, I'd agree with Sullivan. But that's not the only issue at stake, nor is it just a matter of "prolonging the recession" (as though that were a small thing!). The resulting unemployment and its impact on the economy could do a great deal of damage over the long term, and help plunge us into something worse than a recession.
The way out of this economic crisis is classically Keyensian. And one very un-Kenseyan thing to do is to add massively to unemployment during a time when you need to stimulate the economy on the demand side.
Beyond that, as with much of what's being talked about on the stimulous front, this may be the best opportunity we've had in decades to generate some real momentum beyond reforming these industries, both managerially and ecologically. I know this is exactly the kind of thing that liberatrians hate, but taking that into account would assume I care what libertarians think.
I'll happily cast my lot with European social democracy any day of the week over the corrupt, ineffectual, and unjust system we've got right now.
Oh, what to do about the credit card industry? Kevin Drum has some good ideas for where to start:
Universal default should be flatly banned. The 2005 bankruptcy law should be repealed. Credit card fees and interest rates should be brutally capped. Here's a decent start. Put that in your populist pipe and smoke it.
I knew that there was something odd going on, when I woke up at 7am on Tuesday and found that over 200 e-mails had arrived in the seven hours that I had been in bed. It turned out that my article on world government had been “Drudged” - ie put on the much-read Drudge Report and this had set off a torrent of e-mail traffic.
Rachman's proposals were, as ideas for global government go, pretty modest, rooted as it was in a European-style federalism. As it turns out, that's exactly what I'd like to see. But the more important point is that, as Rachman notes, he wasn't actually advocating for anything, but simply suggesting it as a possibility.
From his responses though, we see the confluence of religious paranoia and anti-globalist cant:
“Just wanted to let you know that you’re never gonna get your New World Order.
People are waking up everyday to what’s really going on ….Good luck gettin’ the guns you traitor piece of trash!!”
From: Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:12 AM To: Subject: Action Alert -- Auto Bailout
Today at noon, Senators Ensign, Shelby, Coburn and DeMint will hold a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV Gallery. They would appreciate our support through messaging and attending the press conference, if possible. The message they want us to deliver is:
1. This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.
2. This rush to judgment is the same thing that happened with the TARP. Members did not have an opportunity to read or digest the legislation and therefore could not understand the consequences of it. We should not rush to pass this because Detroit says the sky is falling.
The sooner you can have press releases and documents like this in the hands of members and the press, the better. Please contact me if you need additional information. Again, the hardest thing for the democrats to do is get 60 votes. If we can hold the Republicans, we can beat this.
It offers a helpful contrast. Right now, Democrats in Congress and the presidential transition team are crafting an agenda to help respond to the financial crisis, while Republicans in Congress are using the financial crisis to undermine unions.
It's a very odd time for GOP lawmakers to invest so much energy in ensuring American workers receive less money. And yet, here we are.
And since the Employee Free Choice Act will no doubt be the cause of many Republican heads exploding over the next several months, it might be useful to bookmark this video:
The latest twists from the debacle that ate Detroit. Via Steve Benen:
Let me get this straight: the Bush White House reached a deal with congressional Democrats on a $14 billion rescue package, and the compromise passed the House with a bipartisan majority. Some Senate Republicans not only opposed the measure, but refused to let the chamber vote on the bailout unless a series of unreasonable changes were made.
Democrats, hoping to stave off disaster, went along, and agreed to Republican demands to reduce the United Auto Workers' wages and benefits as soon as the UAW's current contract expired in 2011. The GOP, led in this case by Sens. Corker, Shelby, and DeMint, said that wasn't good enough -- autoworker wages had to be cut in 2009, or else. The deal fell apart, the Asian markets tumbled, U.S. futures tumbled, and at least one of the Big Three is poised to collapse.
I do think it'll be hard for Senate Republicans to explain themselves.
They were invited, repeatedly, to participate in more than a week of negotiations with a Republican White House. They declined.
They were asked to provide an alternative bill. They refused.
Finally, one of their members - Senator Corker of Tennessee - participated in a day-long negotiation with Senate Democrats, the UAW, and bondholders. Everyone made major concessions. Democrats gave up efficiency and emissions standards. UAW accepted major benefit cuts and agreed to reduce workers' wages. Bondholders signed off on a serious haircut. But when Senator Corker took the deal back to the Republican Conference, they argued for two hours and ultimately rejected it.
Why? Because they wanted the federal government to forcibly reduce the wages of American workers within the next 12 months.
Heard this morning that President Bush may still use TARP money to rescue the automakers. He reportedly doesn't want to end up as the next Hoover.
I think neo-Hooverism will be the Republican legacy in the next generation. Presumably, they want to see if they can run the country's economy into the ground at least once a century.
And this point can't be overstated: The key to the Republican strategy is to make ordinary Americans worse off.
Andrew Sullivan has been on a multi-day tear about health care reform in the United States, as compared with Great Britain.
One reason I'm a conservative is the British National Health Service. Until you have lived under socialism, it sounds like a great idea. It isn't misery - although watching my parents go through the system lately has been nerve-wracking - but there is a basic assumption. The government collective decides everything. You, the individual patient, and you, the individual doctor, are the least of their concerns. I prefer freedom and the market to rationalism and the collective. That's why I live here.
As a British ex-pat, Sullivan of course has something that many Americans don't have -- direct experience of the British healthcare system (as well as grave health concerns). But his ire toward NHC in Great Britian seems to be based on his own personal experience, rather than any analysis of the issues (and, let's face it, his own conservative ideological pre-disposition against government programs just on general principle).
Fortunately, Sullivan has posted several replies to his posts by those with more knowledge and sense than he has, and also provides a link to Ezra Klein's blog, which provides some much needed objective data:
Then we could ask the question: Do the Brits seems to be in worse health? Do they have a health care system that delivers worse outcomes? The answer to both is no. In the case of ill health, they're actually in much better health than their American counterparts, though that's a function of lifestyle more than hospital choice. And in the case of health outcomes, it sort of depends. You're probably better off getting your breast cancer treated in America and getting your diabetes treated in Britain. In the aggregate, however, the evidence is fairly clear that the British are better off. Health researchers look at a measure called “amenable mortality,” which refers "to deaths from certain causes that should not occur in the presence of timely and effective health care." In other words, deaths that are prevented by contact with the health care system. If Andrew is right that those stoic Brits just grit their teeth and bear their illness, this measure should be much higher in Britain than in the US.
But it's not. In concert with Andrew's thesis, Britain does indeed have a high rate of amenable deaths. Just not higher than ours. in 2002-2003, Britain suffered 102.81 amenable deaths per 100,000 citizens. America suffered 109.65. This doesn't totally eviscerate Andrew's assertion of cultural difference. It may be that Brits believe they should endure that many preventable deaths while Americans don't believe that but have such a bad health care system that they nevertheless beat out the Brits. But either way, the difference between the American and British health care systems is not that we are enjoying timely and lifesaving interventions while they are forgoing them.
It's unclear how Sullivan would respond to this. On the one hand, his conservative ideology presumes that government programs produce worse outcomes than private programs in the aggregate -- a presumption at odds with the data of most national healthcare systems as compared with the U.S. But on the other hand, his ideological commitment to private versus government solutions could lead him to conclude that the American system is preferable regardless of outcomes.
As for me though, ideology is irrelevant. We want a healthcare system that produces better outcomes, and that could be provided by almost any existing national health care system but our own.
Just when Rick Warren was on the verge of convincing me he was a credible and moderate evangelical megachurch pastor, we get this:
There are a number of levels of wrong to this exchange. First, is Hannity's blithe assurance that he has the capacity to accurately detect "evil" and distinguish it from good. Second, is his belief that "taking out" Amadinijiahd is something either possible or desirable for the United States to do as a matter of national policy (it's not like it would cause any blowback in the Arab world or anything, right?). Third, however, is Warren's indulgence of Hannity's stupidity, first through his acceptance of Hannity's premises about the role of governments in fighting evil, but also in his own apparent belief that "the Bible says" that evil cannot be negotiated with, but only stopped.
The central theological problem here is that both Hannity and Warren accept the premise, stated by Hannity, that we are born and exist in a fallen state. If that's true, then it clearly can't be the case either that evil is something that exists apart from us, our own motivations, and our own objectives, nor that evil can and should simply be "stopped." Theologically understood, evil can't be "stopped," since it eixsts in some degree everywhere and in everyone.
Think about it this way, Jesus tells a parable about a farmer who plants some seeds. That night, his enemy comes along and plants some weeds along with the farmer's crops. Does the farmer send in his servants to seek to distinguish the wheat from the tears? No, because in doing so it may ruin the wheat as well. He tells them to wait for the Harvest, and then do the separating.
Taking Hannity and Warren at their word, they'd have the servants go and destroy the fields, root and twig, in order to root out those weeds.
There are many dimensions to morality. Discernment is an important element of it, but so is prudence. Even if we could accurately discern in all cases good from evil unambiguously, there is still the question of prudence: Should we fight this evil now? Should we fight it here? Should we fight it in this way? Those are questions that can't be answered easily even in the face of an obvious detections of evil. For Hannity, and now apparantly Warren, prudence has no role in moral discernment. I think it's time to write Rick off.