Archive

  • Quiet Liberals

    I think Kevin Drum gets it mostly right on the Michael Walzer piece : To a large extent, despite the triumphalism of the right, liberalism has won most of the big debates in this country. Sure, we've only gotten 80% or 90% of what we set out to get half a century ago, but it's hard to bring a lot of passion to the fight for the final 10 or 20%. The reason liberalism seems lackluster these days is that with the exception of the radical left, which is mostly ignored, garden variety liberals don't have all that much to complain about. That's true, at least on an ideological level (I hasten to confine it to issues of ideology because, as the blogs prove, us garden variety liberals have found plenty to complain about). But I think we're dealing with a second dynamic here, which is that we're no longer allowed to complain, our real complaints aren't viable in political discourse. Increased government control and involvement in private life is, to a large degree, off-limits in the public...
  • Who You Calling a Tax-and-Spend Liberal?

    Commenting on the British elections, Sullivan writes: I also fear that the battering of Blair means a future Brown government will keep increasing spending and so hamper Britain's post-Thatcher renaissance. I'd happily vote Tory this time on those grounds alone. Of course, no one on the Labour left in Britain is proposing the kind of government spending that Bush Republicans are engaged in. In that sense, Bush is far to the fiscal left of anyone in current British politics. What an irony. We used to think that even British Tories were more liberal than America's Democrats. But Bush's and DeLay's massive spending and borrowing makes Blair look like a born-again Thatcherite. Wha? C'mon now, Andy must be aware that liberalism is about more than some deep-seated affinity for borrowing-and-spending. No one reading my blog could mistake my politics for anything but those of a lefty, and yet even I don't spend my nights scheming out how to drain America's coffers through some devious...
  • Whoa

    Ahmad Chalabi's going to be Iraq's oil minister? You kidding me?
  • The Glory of the Feebate

    Sigh. The Weekly Standard is right . The gas tax is actually a bad idea. I've advocated for it in the past, and many have done the same recently, but it's a poor way to deal with the energy crisis. The gas tax fails because it penalizes folks for conditions outside their control. We generally imagine the tax as nailing those morons peering down from Hummers, but most of the affluent, insecure drivers who're purchasing a tank for their morning commute do so fully aware that the gas bill will sting. They can take the hit. But the gas tax disproportionately hurts two other groups who don't deserve it: the poor, and the rural. The former often drive inefficient, older vehicles, and are simply less able to use them when gas prices and taxes rise. The latter don't have public transportation options and often have to go much farther to complete basic tasks, like food shopping or taking their kids to school. And all that'd be okay if there was some compelling evidence that a gas tax would...
  • New Plan, Same as the Old Plan

    So the new Bush energy plan (not, to be clear, the atrocious energy bill). It's not really bad, just kinda lame. I mean, yes, we do need to break through the impasses that are keeping nuclear energy plants and liquid natural gas terminals from being built. And the hybrid car subsidy is certainly a good thing. Neither am I really against constructing a few more refineries. But for a president who prides himself on bold strokes and towering ambition, this is kid's stuff. This is pecking your date on the cheek before drinking a warm glass of milk and going to bed. This ain't, in other words, shit. The affordable oil's gonna run out, kids. Whether it's now or later, it's riding into the sunset as we speak. Bush says: "Over the past decade, our energy consumption has increased by more than 12 percent, while our domestic production has increased by less than one-half of 1 percent," he added. "It's now time to fix it." But even that overstates our abilities, Our production, after all, doesn'...
  • Dog-Blogging, and Support This Site!

    I've really been remiss in not plugging the site's first advertiser, Obey the Pure Breed . You guys should do me a favor and check the site out, it's really very funny. And in honor of the dog-theme and the Papillon section, and in expectation of you all visiting the site (preferrably through this link), I'm going to do my first-ever dog-blogging and introduce my -- or at least my family's -- papillon to the world. Behold, Pappy: That would be my girlfriend's foot, apparently delivering a kick to my poor dog's ribs. Not quite sure why she's wailing on him, but I'm sure she's got her reasons. Maybe if you visit my advertiser, she'll tell you them.
  • More on Definition

    Digby has an interesting response to my rebuttal to Kos (got all that?). Digby's point is that the Republican definition -- smaller government and lower taxes, family values, and a strong national defense -- is a stance, not a legislative agenda nor a statement of class/constituency solidarity. Instead, it lays out a set of principles as the founding blocks of conservatism. As counter, he suggests the Democrats adopt something like: "fair taxes, a secure safety net, personal privacy, civil rights, and responsible global leadership". I think he's right, and I think I was unclear. The Republican definition isn't just an agenda, it's certainly a statement of principles as well. The genius thing is that it's both -- it's what they believe in, but also what they'll (theoretically) do. That's why it works. One interesting thing about their platform is that it moves in a certain direction -- lower taxes, smaller government, stronger defense. That's why it succeeds: it not only explains what...
  • Centrism

    Julia on political centrists: This is like saying that you drive mid-size cars because you own a Civic and a Hummer. This is like saying that Michigan has a temperate climate because it's 95 in the summer and -10 in the winter. It's like saying you're a moderate drinker because you drink nothing Monday through Thursday and then have 15 pints on a Friday night. That's about right. Centrism has become a synonym for "maverick". Proving yourself a centrist isn't about moderating your opinions so much as decisively proving you don't hold the same ones as your party. Lieberman, as Julie notes, is hardly in the middle on issues: he's generally quite liberal, or quite hawkish. Which, in the current calculus, makes him some sort of a weird centrist. But the middle should mean the center of the map, not all over it. The political press, we know, is always jonesing for politicians ready to buck their parties, and that's fine. But let's pick a new word for them, one that doesn't contravene the...
  • Questions, Questions

    Bob Dole, in today's New York Times (italics mine): In the coming days, I hope changing the Senate's rules won't be necessary, but Senator Frist will be fully justified in doing so if he believes he has exhausted every effort at compromise. Of course, there is an easier solution to the impasse: Democrats can stop playing their obstruction game and let President Bush's judicial nominees receive what they are entitled to: an up-or-down vote on the floor of the world's greatest deliberative body. From the AP: Frist Say's He's Not Interested in Deals. Oh. So if he's publicly ruled out compromise, has he fully exhausted every effort at it by rejecting all compromises? Or is he simply unjustified in changing the rules?
  • Leader or President -- Circle One

    In some ways, it's hard to blame Frist for turning batshit crazy in the past few months. Unlike most senators hoping to occupy the Oval Office, the good doctor from Tennessee is majority leader, which means every overpowered, under-medicated constituency in the country is tugging at his pant leg to make him actualize their agenda in the here and now. And they mean to see him do it if he expects their support down the road. Frist has no choice but to kowtow to their demands, rejecting compromises, taking extreme positions, and generally grinding the Senate to a halt because his presidential ambitions don't allow for moderation of any sort. But this isn't restricted to Frist. This'd be the path of most any average senator elevated to the majority leader's position and harboring hopes for highest office. Running the Senate in a bipartisan, rational way is simply incompatible with the craziness and constituency-pleasing required by the presidential gauntlet. And we should know it. So if...

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