Maiello: Human Rights and the Stock Market
Doc Cleveland: Fear Itself: Ukraine Edition
And on a Lighter Note, CPAC Starts Today!
The Supreme Court spent Holy Week (or, as Jesus would call it, Passover) debating gay marriage, which Chief Justice John Roberts clearly opposes. Religious opponents of gay marriage like to argue that the purpose of marriage is to beget children, so that only heterosexual marriages are "real," because only biological fertility makes a marriage "real." By this standard John Roberts's own marriage is not real, and neither is mine. I do not believe that, and neither should he.
The "values" wing of the Republican party decided, against the advice of their more libertarian brethren, to wage a social war against same sex marriage and, whatever the Supreme Court decides in its two big marriage cases, the "values" bloc has clearly lost the fight. Though your experience may vary by region, the country has evolved to at best a pro-same sex marriage consensus and at least a healthy "live and let live," attitude about it. [Read more]
It could be that with all that's going on in the world you might have missed what's happening closer to home, in the sovereign state of Michigan. In just over two years, since businessman and venture capitalist Rick Snyder became governor, bringing along with him a Republican majority in the legislature and in most courts (including the Supreme one), with a push from the Tea Party, the Koch Brothers and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, our beautiful state has suffered under the country's first duly elected dictatorship.
The decision to bring "democracy" to Iraq displayed a deep and obvious contempt for democracy itself. George W. Bush considered the decision to begin a war his personal prerogative, and both the political establishment and the media establishment treated it that way. The war was inevitable; the decision had already been made. Not supporting the war was treated as foolish (because futile) and unpatriotic (because patriotism was defined as supporting the President's decisions). [Read more]
One of the things that most irks me about Thomas Friedman, aside from the fact that he's a terrible writer who has somehow won a huge audience, is that he is so willing to blame Americans for their own problems. This morning, for example, he cites Adam Garfinkle:
“We’re the most self-indulgent generation in American history,” argues Garfinkle, always demanding more services than we’re ready to pay for. “Too many of us want to be unbound by broader social obligations, but the network of those obligations creates the moral ballast that makes good governance possible.” [Read more]
On Thursday, the American Association of University Professors, a national faculty union, released its report on last summer's debacle at the University of Virginia, where, if you recall, the Board of Visitors fired the UVa's President, Teresa A. Sullivan, only two years into Sullivan's term, without even holding a meeting about the firing first. [Read more]
Every year around this time Republicans get to let their hair down and show the world that no matter what we've heard otherwise, they do have a silly side.
Doom and gloom and global warming is our problem, not theirs. Enough about the poor, the pregnant, and the pressures put on them by the peons. Get those party hats on! [Read more]
A judge has overruled Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban, calling it "arbitrary and capricious." So New York City's ban on large sugary beverages, meaning more than 16 oz. servings, is basically dead. This is a big win for Big Gulp Libertarianism, which derided the government soda ban as Nanny State tyranny, taking away individual's freedom to make their own rational choices. But you know what else is arbitrary, capricious, and erodes individual freedom of choice? Marketing. Every food package you will ever encounter was designed to limit the exercise of your free will. Selling someone else a 64-ounce cola may be a rational individual decision. [Read more]
Libertarians tend to be very interested in the government's monopoly on legitimate violence. It's true. It's a major issue. I think I get where Rand Paul was coming from last week and I even support it. The government can take your life, your property and your freedom.
But, you know, it usually doesn't. You are unlikely, my friends, to ever find yourself in combat with government agents. That's a good thing. The government will largely not restrict your freedoms. The government largely doesn't care. [Read more]
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama banned the controversial drone program here today, and reaction to the move was swift, as every other country on the planet immediately announced they would do the same, even France, which has a well-earned reputation of being a pain in the ass on these types of matters.
The move to ban drones was met by complete bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, with even staunch defense supporters like warmongering angry white guy Sen. John McCain giving it a thumbs up. [Read more]
I was baptized Catholic though, at that point in my life, I was too young to have much say in the matter. As I grew older (not much older, it turns out) and more into a wise ass, I found myself in frequent conflict with my catechism teachers over the issues of where babies come from (I did not, in fact, have any real idea though I was pretty sure that Jesus was not magic). [Read more]
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama – in an attempt to ease tensions with Senate Republicans – bought a dozen GOP senators dinner last night, in what all have said was a pleasant evening. The dinner was held at the Jefferson Hotel, with Obama picking up the tab out of his own pocket. [Read more]
One of the things that's always bothered me about the debt ceiling and about the sequester is that they've been touted as some sophisticated form of "game theory" that can somehow force Congress to make responsible decisions. It's just not so.
Today in Esquire I was given some space on Charles Pierce's blog to make that very point. We'll find out, over the next month or so, just how important the Sequester is, or isn't. I think that it's a sideshow and that the real issue is the debt ceiling, which should be repealed immediately. [Read more]
Back during the debates about the Affordable Care Act, I complained quite loudly and often that the legislation did not do enough good for people who already have health insurance, particularly through their employers.
I argued, quite strenuously, my belief that middle class tax payers are getting fleeced on premiums and not getting enough effective medical treatment for what they pay. I don't recall many people around here disputing it, but I do remember Teresa McCarthy's frequent retort which, borrowing from Carly Simon, went something like, "You're so vain, you probably think this legislation's about you." [Read more]
Once there was a young Washington Post reporter named Bob Woodward who became a celebrity almost overnight by joining with another reporter named Carl Bernstein (remember him?) to expose the inner workings of a seemingly minor break-in at the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington. D.C.
For Reuters today, I've decided to argue that the whole question about whether or not a bank is solvent, or what it's worth, is something that we'd all be better off without. And, in a world where you can get the daily net asset value of more than $13 trillion in mutual funds and $2 trillion in exchange traded funds, there's really no excuse for not forcing banks to become more radically transparent.
You can read my argument over at Reuters. But if you want to tell me why I'm wrong here, I'm always listening.
In March, 2012, just six months after their franchise had been bought up by Bread of Life, a company owned by Manna Development, a former McDonald's franchisee, 18 bakers at six Panera Bakery and Cafes along the I-94 corridor in Southwestern Michigan decided to join a union.
The bakers take the midnight shift, working raw dough into the artisan breads Panera has grown famous for. Their training is extensive--a seven-week "boot camp" with exams and skill demonstrations, a 90-day assessment period, and sometimes as much as a year's worth of kitchen work before the comfort level reaches "artisan" stage.
The Manhattan Institute is a conservative, somewhat libertarian think tank here in New York, probably best known for pushing the "broken windows policing," that has defined law enforcement in the city since the Giuliani era. They are generally free marketers and pro-law enforcement conservatives. They very often, like the contributors to Reason magazine or CATO classic, come up with some novel ideas and are worth checking in with every now and then, even by lefties. [Read more]
This morning, David Brooks gives us what's been a truism about American life since I was born -- that we are a bunch of selfish short-termers, unwilling to make sacrifices for future generations in the manner of the nobler Americans who came before us. This criticism has been lobbed at every generation since the Baby Boomers came of age.
The evidence is the usual litany -- public company executives and stock investors looking for quarterly rather than long term results; pension funds (private and public) draining resources from future investment; debt driven consumption; a lack of infrastructure spending.
Brooks argues: [Read more]