15 January 2014

I, for one, love the 2007 Massachusetts law creating buffer zones around abortion clinics.

Would it be too much to ask the lawyers and anti-abortion activists now wailing about "free speech" and feeling "intimidated" by having to stay 35 feet (yes, thirty-five) away from the abortion clinic doors to show the same concern about TSA airport screenings?  the "free speech zones" routinely used at major-party political conventions? 

I do hope all the Justices remember the kind of vitriol and murderous violence that has always been part of the anti-abortion movement.  Not that other protest groups don't have violent elements, but that far too often doctors and vulnerable women have been the only victims of this violence. 

13 January 2014

In days gone by I was very sympathetic to libertarian organizations and even enjoyed reading publications such as Reason magazine. 

The possibilities of a Libertarian - Green coalition in American politics seemed boundless.

And then I started noticing that most libertarians (at least most of those who wrote columns) had no problem with corporations violating every human right under the sun.  Villainy, for them, has always been more inherent in your local school board than in your HMO or who you might buy gas from.

Liberty, I am bold to say, means jack shit when the natural world around you is incapable of sustaining human life.  And that is what is bound to happen when energy interests buy out governments* so they can take as much as they want from the earth.

*a short list of those governments (with varying degrees of corruption):  Alaska and West Virginia states, Alberta province, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.

09 January 2014

There had been three classic ways in which Controllers-General had dealt with the growing burden of French government finance:  disguised bankruptcies, loans from domestic and foreign syndicates and new taxes.  Louis XV's last controller, the AbbĂ© Terray, had used all three.  Louis XVI's first controller, Turgot, repudiated all three.  Instead, he proposed the lessons of liberal economic theory, in particular that of Physiocracy, whose very name proclaimed it to be the "Law of Nature" and thus irrefutable.  The "sect" of the physiocrats argued that was corporatism, regulation and protection -- the heavy hand of the state -- that was stifling productivity and enterprise in France... [after this was removed] the urban and rural sectors would coexist in charmed reciprocity and France would swarm with contented, rational rustics all plowing, producing, saving and spending to the deep rhythm of the market...When Turgot came into office as Controller-General in 1774, having served briefly as minister for the navy, it was not just as an economic but as a political liberal.  Only if he could depend on support from the noble Parlements could he deliver policies that avoided the most arbitrary excesses of the previous reign in respect of bankruptcies, loans and taxes.  So, with the King's warm endorsement, he rescued the Parlements from the limbo into which Chancellor Maupeou had sent them.  His mistaken assumption was that they would back his reforms out of a combination of gratitude and rationality...It followed from Turgot's sympathy with physiocratic ideas that the liberalization of the French economy would, of itself, generate the kind of prosperity that would solve the financial problems of the government.  This would happen in two ways.  Public confidence, that most alchemical of economic quantities, would revive, disposing of the need for additional new loans since the old ones, duly honored, would suffice.  Trade and manufactures would flourish to such an extent that they too, from increased turnover, would yield enough revenues to repair the damage.  All this was, of course, the direct ancestor of supply-side public finance, and had just about as much chance of success as its version two hundred years later in a different but similarly fiscally overstretched empire.

Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Chapter 2: "Blue Horizons, Red Ink"

08 January 2014

I agree with James Carroll that the Air Force should be abolished -- if for no other reason than to save servicemembers' lives.  This crash in England certainly seems to follow a pattern of dangerous flying that resulted in 4 crew deaths in Alaska a few years back, and 4 crew deaths in Washington State twenty years ago.   Of course, the cult of airpower has many powerful adherents in our nation's capital, and we are already being treated to the commentary of "aviation experts" like Chris Yates:
"We have to be mindful that these are military flyers and they are the best, of the best, of the best.  It would be unusual, once we get through this investigation, to find that this was pilot error; it might be more mechanical fault."

Yes, unusual to find that a bloated branch of the military, idolized at airshows and other propaganda events every year, has not actually done anything to discipline personnel who are reckless with the lives of their colleagues.

So long, William Thomas.  We hardly knew ye.

This president gets my balls exploding with anger in ways that George W. Bush never managed to. 

You get well-heeled liberals fawning over your "change of heart" about gay marriage in 2012, and you carefully insert the LGBT community into your rhetoric of equality and fairness:  but when a black gay man's nomination to a federal court is being upheld by the fascist clown Marco Rubio, you throw him under the bus and hope nobody notices.  Oh, I'm sure you would tell me one has to "pick one's battles" or some such.  And next week you'll probably be telling the press corps about the sad, sad, state of affairs in judicial nominations and how it's oh so hard to get good nominees confirmed in today's climate of partisanship yadayadayada.    And you might even speak to a black congregation in, say, Chicago or Atlanta and tell them how important it is to treat their gay brothers and sisters with dignity and to give them "a level playing field."

As much as you have done to support LGBT equality, mr. president, you never cease to remind me of Don Giovanni, who sings "long live humanity, long live liberty" even as he destroys the autonomy of every other person in his world.