Yearly Archives: 2005

December 30th, 2005

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At its last valuation, an ounce of liberty cost a good two million dollars’ worth of police state

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

What would we do without Fafblog?

All the usual suspects have begun ringing all the usual alarm bells, calling the president’s new powers unconstitutional or even dictatorial. This, of course, is absurd. There remain numerous checks on the president’s powers, such as God, who may override the president’s veto with a two-thirds vote, and the president himself, who may bring himself to justice should he find himself to have violated his oath of ...

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December 29th, 2005

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What kind of a father are you?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Written by Laura Denyes

Anyone else have to recite aloud M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback-I before you could clear your head and absorb the BS before you? I did. The crooked letters seemed to have more of place in this backwards story.

To take that honorable natural right from another in defense of your offspring? Sounds tribal. We all want to do what the police chief did, hold someone accountable when facing inexplicable loss… ...

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December 29th, 2005

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The remarkable story of Ping Fu

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

INC magazine has chosen Ping Fu as their Entreprenuer Of The Year. Her story is the most dramatic I’ve read, of all the entreprenuers that INC has ever profiled – and I’ve been a regular reader for more than 10 years. Here is a woman who suffered horrific suffering and abuse at the hands of her government yet in the end managed to get to America and discover her talents with software ...

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December 29th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Conservatives are anti-American in the most profound sense of the word

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

The Republican party has, for most of its life, defended that part of the liberal tradition that emphasized the protection of private property and the freedom of individuals to enact contracts on terms of their own devising (that is, free market exchange). It has never been a “conservative” party, as the term was long understood in Europe. Never before the year 2000 was the Republican party taken over by factions whose ideology ...

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December 28th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Are older men more attractive than younger men?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

This line has been bothering me for months:

beautiful young women and successful older men are at their peak of desirability to the opposite sex

That’s by Robin Hanson, writing over at Marginal Revolution.

Is it true? Or is “successful” being confused with “older”? To get a correct point of comparison, we need to imagine a successful younger man and a successful older man. And then we need to be precise about what we mean ...

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December 28th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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If you are not guilty, then you have nothing to hide?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Earlier this month some kids in Virginia Beach, Virginia went on a shooting spree with a BB gun. In the middle of the night, they swept through several neighborhoods, and shot out the side windows of several cars. No one was hurt, and no one has so far been caught (it is an assumption that we are talking about kids, not adults).

A friend of mine had the windows shot out on her ...

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December 25th, 2005

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Watch the Boondocks!

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Written by Phillip Honenberger

The Boondocks, a cartoon strip about the American black experience, is now an animated series on Cartoon Network. It shows on Sunday nights at 11:00 p.m.

Last week the show was funny and provocative. It was a Christmas episode. A black Santa showed up at the shopping mall and all the kids said “That’s not Santa!” I never thought of Santa’s racial profile as particularly significant before. It strikes me ...

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December 23rd, 2005

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The Cory Maye case

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Via BattlePanda, I am pointed to the tragic case of Cory Maye:

#Facts Not in Dispute

# A local narcotics task force conducted a drug raid on the Prentiss, Mississippi duplex apartments of Jamie Smith and Cory Maye on December 26, 2001.

# Smith was arrested without incident. Significant quantities of marijuana were found in his home. Both Maye’s current and former attorneys say Smith was never charged for drug possession or distribution. District Attorney ...

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December 23rd, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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If you have done nothing wrong, then you’ve nothing to hide?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Via BattlePanda, I was delighted to read this post over at A Chicken Is Not Pillage – Wulfgar’s Mountain View:

You see, If ~A then ~B is the equivalent of If B then A. If it is not sunny, then John will not go outside. John goes outside, therefore it must be sunny. Isn’t that simple? So, if doing wrong = A, and hiding something =B, we have the ...

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December 23rd, 2005

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The government spied on 4,000 Americans, but only arrested one?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Laura Rozen asks “Where are all the arrests?” The government illegally spied on 4,000 Americans. Why? The government argues that it had to do so to keep Americans safe – that it could not go to the courts because the courts were too slow. This suggests that extreme urgency motivated the spying. But if the intelligence was so urgent, wherre are the arrests?

Since October 2001, Bush has authorized 30 times – every ...

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December 23rd, 2005

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Shelley Powers: women are taught not to put themselves forward

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Shelley Powers has an interesting bit comparing the different levels of self-promotion that men and women engage in, using Wikipedia as her data source:

Many of the male webloggers I know have an entry in Wikipedia, but most of the women I know, don’t. I brought this up with Rogers and he noticed the same.

Why are there significantly fewer women? I think one reason is that we women are taught not to put ...

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December 22nd, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Will Seigenthaler get Congressional hearings to end online anonymity?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

It is frightening to think about where this might go. John Seigenthaler has been libeled in Wikipedia, and now his goal seems to be to get as much publicity as possible about his wrong, possibly with an aim toward Congressional hearings that might lead to the disallowing of this kind of anonymous writing in the future. Perhaps he will not get very far, but he is a sign of the times – ...

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December 22nd, 2005

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McCain wins one for the terrorists?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

This is insane:

Clearly focused more on the political PR war than the real war against international terrorism itself, McCain and Co. have pressured the Bush administration into sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere, on behalf of the temporarily free world. That message? Fear not Mr. & Mrs. Terrorist… No matter how deadly your intentions, how demented your methods, how deranged your deplorable acts of inhumane terror, there is a limit to ...

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December 8th, 2005

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We are only allowed to learn certain things at certain ages

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Context changes everything. Age is one of those contexts. What is sweet and endearing when we are 20 becomes menacing when we are 40. We grow up innocent and ask innocent questions. Whether we are truly innocent does not matter, there is, for a time, an assumption of innocence. Perhaps some night we find ourselves up late with a girl we like, out on the back porch, enjoying the summer time heat, ...

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December 8th, 2005

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What is liberalism — the child’s edition

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

One of my oldest and dearest friends discovered I had a website and came to visit it and see what Phillip and I had created. She looked it over with her daughter besides her. Her daughter, a very intelligent 10 year old, asked her, “What is that… Liberalism?” It’s a question my friend decided to fob off on me, in an email. What follows is the email I wrote to the young ...

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December 8th, 2005

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Conservatism is a psychology of innocence?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Rick Perlstein wonders how so many conservatives can think they are the good guys after they have committed so many famous crimes. He suggests that modern conservatism is powered by, in part, a psychology of innocence, one that holds all true conservative actions to be innocent because their intent was good. (hat tip to Avedon Carol).

Is Chalabi, or Jerry Falwell, a “principled conservative” or a “pragmatic conservative.” That’s a question I’d ...

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December 8th, 2005

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Avedon Carol is disgusted with Hilliary Clinton

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Avedon Carol is appalled that Hilliary Clinton is running for President:

Every day brings a new reason why I can’t stand this woman. I don’t like the fact that she’s been running for president for years and has the RNC helping her do it. I don’t like the fact that she never supports the truly democratic and liberal people in the party who try to stand up for what’s right. And I’m completely ...

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December 4th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Nurturing parents are not liberal role models

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff says:

The progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as ...

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December 4th, 2005

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Rush Limbaugh defends the Babes Of Liberty

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Rush Limbaugh defends the Babes of Liberty from the Three Headed Hydra of Liberalism:

I’m grateful to Anjelica at BattlePanda for pointing to me to this priceless expression of the American spirit, circa 2005.

Source

December 3rd, 2005

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How much should we worry about the decline of old media?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Shelly Powers worries that mainstream media is in decline and that citizen journalism (such as blogs) will not be able to confront those who are powerful (and have lawyers) to the same degree. She looks with great concern on the rise of such ventures as Open Source Media:

And they want to use the coverage to take down whatever news outlet doesn’t fit in their world. What news outlets? The New York Times, ...

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November 27th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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When one of our people gets elected, sooner or later they stop being one of our people

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, FDR, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Paul Wellstone, etc. People who, once elected, disappointed the most militant members of the group that elected them.

“When one of our people gets elected, sooner or later he [or she] stops being one of our people.”

It seems to me that in a democracy, it’s likely everyone will feel that way sometimes. I’ve seen 6 close friends get into bitter fights over ...

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November 23rd, 2005

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What is the link between federalism and conservatism?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

In America, most of the people who favor federalism (reserving certain powers to the states) are right-of-center in their politics. Why is this? It’s not the case that people left-of-center have an absolute faith in the power of government. Rather, many of their central concerns revolve around limiting government power. People who are left-of-center favor strong limits on police searches and other government invasions of privacy. People who are left-of-center fight passionately ...

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November 23rd, 2005

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‘China is not a capitalist country, and it never will be

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

China is not a capitalist country. In recent decades it has allowed monetary exchange to operate for the provisioning of a wider array of goods and services, but this does not make it a capitalist country. Over the last ten years, it has also begun to offer greater legal protections to private property, but this does not make it a capitalist country. China has an increasing number of private sector capitalists who ...

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November 17th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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When is war allowed?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

I remain deeply confused about when the liberal tradition allows war. I found the following passage in John Locke’s essays on government. It says war is allowed when an enmity is discovered in another. Would this justify America’s war in Iraq? An enmity would include any plan on Saddam Hussein’s part to damage American interests. Does his struggle to break free of the embargo that he was under constitute a threat to ...

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November 12th, 2005

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Anti-intellectualism as a trojan horse

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Written by Phillip Honenberger

Since the defeat in 2004, conservative spokepeople have been counseling democrats on to how to win elections. What nerve! As if they wanted to help us “back on our feet!” The suggestions include: moving closer to the center, distancing the party from the “leftists” and “intellectuals” that clearly cannot connect with “the people,” and so on.

So– after bashing Michael Moore, bloggers, and MoveOn.org, the conservative commentators generously clue us ...

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November 12th, 2005

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No one can be a sincere libertarian capitalist and a Roman Catholic at the same time

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

This used to be a common-sense assertion that everyone knew, but recent decades have brought a confusing alliance between traditionalist Christians and radical free-marketeers. This Catholic symposium aims to restore the old understanding of things:

A spectre is haunting Roman Catholics in the United States: the increasingly insistent campaign to associate libertarian capitalist ideas with orthodox Christianity. This campaign is actually an old one, beginning in Europe in the aftermath of the Revolutions ...

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November 10th, 2005

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Conservative economists are somewhat stupid

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Written by Phillip Honenberger

Regarding economic interpretations:

A pro-U.S. analyst says: “Let freedom and capitalism dictate society.”

I am hardly an expert on economic matters, but it seems to me that (a) internationally speaking, freedom may not be in the best interests of the U.S., (b) the U.S. government knows this and sometimes deliberately pursues policies which would restrict the freedom of other nations and peoples, and (c) those moments in U.S. history where capitalism ...

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October 12th, 2005

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What’s wrong with the leadership of the Democratic party, part II

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Anne Zook offers a number of good insights regarding the leadership of the Democratic Party. She offers them in the comments, where they are easy to miss, so I’m posting a long excerpt here:

Not all deficits are created equally. A deficit of a billion dollars when the money is circulated in the USofA economy stimulates the economy. It passes through hands, gets spent on goods and services, and generally is the fuel ...

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October 10th, 2005

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How can we trust anyone associated with government?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

http://blondesense.blogspot.com/2005/10/trust.html

How can we trust anyone associated with government? It seems those governing are playing a game with our lives. Are there any of them that we could actually trust with our homes, our children, our livelihoods? Who would you trust to run your financial obligations?

These are the questions we must ask before we vote the next time. Hopefully there will be someone that will come forth who will be worthy of our ...

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October 10th, 2005

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Antioch Bible Church, the notoriously anti-gay institution on Seattle’s Eastside

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2005/10/10/blurring-the-church-state-divide/

Antioch Bible Church, the notoriously anti-gay institution on Seattle’s Eastside (famous for their Mayday for Marriage rally last year, and for lobbying Microsoft to not support an antidiscrimination bill), uses Lake Washington High School (a public school) for their Sunday sermons. Lake Washington’s principal is a member of the church. Some Antioch members teach abstinence-only sex ed in the Lake Washington School District — the materials for such “education” are provided by ...

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October 10th, 2005

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Yet another sick, pious hypoctrite that needs to be added to the Conservative Values Monitor

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

http://www.pamspaulding.com/weblog/2005/10/christian-coalition-leader-accused-of.html

Via Wayne Besen, yet another sick, pious hypoctrite that needs to be added to the Conservative Values Monitor. Two of the cases occurred more than 10 years ago, and in Oregon, the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases is six years. One case, however, does fall within the timeline for prosecution – the abuse of an elementary-school age female family member. Gee, all the wingers tell me that only homos are ...

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October 10th, 2005

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it’s still fashionable for women to write articles in which they berate other women for their less-than-perfect bodies

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

http://www.culturekitchen.com/archives/003443.html

it’s still fashionable for women to write articles in which they berate other women for their less-than-perfect bodies, even in lefty newspapers like the The Guardian. Instead of offering a critique of the wasp-waisted fashions that require a woman to aspire to an ideal that was only accomplished previously by wearing a corset, Ms. Spencer bemoans the loss of the natural womanly waist, and seems to alternatively blame it on using our ...

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October 10th, 2005

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Sex Without Love

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

A poem by Sharon Olds

http://www.poemhunter.com/p/m/poem.asp?poet=10652&poem=106308

Sex Without Love

How do they do it, the ones who make love without love? Beautiful as dancers, gliding over each other like ice-skaters over the ice, fingers hooked inside each other’s bodies, faces red as steak, wine, wet as the children at birth whose mothers are going to give them away. How do they come to the come to the come to the God come to the still waters, and not love the one who ...

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October 9th, 2005

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Susan Friedman: mapping feminism and the cultural geographies of encounter

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

I’ve been reading Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter (copyright1998) which was written by Susan Stanford Friedman. The book was recommended to me by my friend Emily. I’ve been enjoying the ambition of the book and the broad synthesis of theoretical work that Friedman attempts. At first I felt the book lacked sufficient concrete examples of what was under theoretical discussion, which I thought was due to its academic audience. ...

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October 8th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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What’s wrong with the leadership of the Democratic party?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Anne Zook sums up a bit of history:

There was a lack of vision after the Watergate years* and what passes for leadership among the Democrats been playing catch-up ever since. Unable to believe in or trust the liberal roots of their own successes, they’ve adopted, instead, a stance of being a kinder, gentler Republican Party.

Liberal voters, disillusioned by the same scandal and worn out by the work behind the legislative successes they ...

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October 8th, 2005

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What is property?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Chris Brooke at Virtual Stoa posts an excerpt from Thomas Rutherforth on Locke’s account of property. I’m astonished at how much this account deals with the issue of appropriation. Earlier tonight I was talking with my friend Laura Denyes, who is a photographer, and we discussed copyright and how artists appropriate material from one another. We discussed the issue of found art, and an artist using an idea from another artist, and ...

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October 8th, 2005

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What is nationalism?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

George Orwell’s notes on nationalism is as timely today as the year it was written:

INDIFFERENCE TO REALITY. All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost ...

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October 8th, 2005

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The revolution that has really lasted is the democratic revolution emerging from France and the US in the 18th century

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Harry of Harry’s Place is taking a long leave of absence from his weblog. This is very sad, since his weblog is possibly the most important British weblog there is. Harry has, over the last 3 years, boldly made the case for a progressive politics that defends the liberal ideal everywhere, and works to advance it throughout the world. I’ll miss him. A few of his closing thoughts:

Of course the left has ...

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October 7th, 2005

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What is needed to defend diverse, tolerant, open societies?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Sasha Abramsky raises some tough questions about what needs to be done to defend the openness, tolerance and diversity of American society:

I still hope that my rethinking of some foreign policy questions can be incorporated into a vibrant progressive movement. Indeed, I’d argue that a strong defence of pluralistic, democratic societies needs to be an essential, perhaps a defining, component of any genuinely progressive politics in today’s world…

Pilger, Fisk, Ali, Galloway, and ...

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October 5th, 2005

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The war against women

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Ralph Peter’s sums up the best reason of all for America to go on fighting the war in Iraq, and the larger war, fought all over the world, against fascism. The Bush administration will some day disappear, thank god, but the war will still be there, and good people will need to fight it so that our liberal values can win:

The greatest social revolution in history is underway all around us: The ...

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October 5th, 2005

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The Best Democracy Money Can Buy — BBC meets Greg Palast

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

GUEST POST By LAURA DENYES

The political documentary “Bush Family Fortunes, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” is one of the most upsetting documentaries I have seen. I can honestly say, Bush gave me gas. The short (72min.) documentary is based on Greg Palast’s book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” with interviews handled by the BBC. Unlike some political documentaries the proof of the Bush boy’s foul self-centered tactics leaves you feeling ...

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October 2nd, 2005

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Dangers to science

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

From Virginia Postrel:

At a business conference this summer in Toronto Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, told the Canadians again and again how wonderful they are–how open to new ideas, how tolerant, how diverse and therefore how potentially creative. Unlike the U.S., which is afflicted by divisiveness and the religious right, Canada is a model country. That was his story, at any rate. …

On the op-ed page ...

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September 28th, 2005

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Human nature favors social status more than it favors wealth

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Over at The Liberal Order, Mark Steckbeck writes:

Discrimination based on bias and hatred can certainly exist in a market economy. Becker’s argument, however, was that it was costly to do so and that it is not likely that a profit maximizing firm can survive for long in a market economy by practicing discrimination based on biased information.

This is true, of course. But it is equally true, and even more obvious, than in ...

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September 28th, 2005

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The only moral question in the Iraq war is what do the people of Iraq need

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

A terrific post by Billmon:

For me, the overriding moral question for me is this: Would a U.S. withdrawal make things better or worse for the Iraqi people? My personal opinion is that having started the war, and uncorked the bottle of religious fanaticism and communal savagery, America is morally obliged to do whatever it can to minimize the suffering and death its actions have caused — and will continue to cause for ...

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September 27th, 2005

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In America, conservatism has given up its argument for limited government

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Odd how much conservatives seemed to have been changed by Katrina. I haven’t heard much of “Let the private sector fix this.” Instead, many are talking about how the government can fix this problem. But why, from the conservative point of view, should the government intervene at all? If it’s acceptable for America to have homelessness, then why isn’t it acceptable during a hurricane? If it’s okay to let American citizens die ...

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September 20th, 2005

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Can the Christian faith be rescued from the Fundamentalists?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

John Shelby Spong is a liberal bishop in the Episcopal church and he has written a very good book called “The Sins Of Scripture” which attacks those fundamentalists who would reduce the Bible to a handful of passages that justify the hateful and reactionary policies they believe in. He has a passage on sexism in Christian history that is very good. It begins with this quote from Pat Robertson:

The Feminist agenda is ...

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September 18th, 2005

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Must Europe become more liberal?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

André Sapir argues that continental Europe must become more liberal (more like the English speaking countries) if it is to do well economically:

First, the global economy of the twenty-first century is characterised by rapid changes which create both threats and opportunities. The biggest challenge for the European economy is to become sufficiently flexible so as to avail of the opportunities and surmount the threats. This requires, above all, reforming labour market and ...

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September 15th, 2005

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Bush lied. Our soldiers died.

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

My friend, the talented graphic artist Laura Denyes, has created a t-shirt design inspired by the Downing Street Memo. With their permission, she uses a quote from the site www.downingstreetmemo.com.

As they say on that site:

The American people deserve a full accounting of how we got where we are in Iraq. With every person—soldier or civilian—who is killed or injured as a result of the ongoing violence it becomes more, not less, imperative ...

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September 13th, 2005

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Explaining the poor to the middle class

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Jane Galt, whose politics run right-of-center, attempts to explain to conservatives that the poor are different from the middle class, first in resources, and then also often in behavior:

The post below is complicated, for some conservatives, by the fact that if the poor acted like the middle class, they wouldn’t have problems like no credit or savings.

If poor people did just four things, the poverty rate would be a fraction of what ...

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September 13th, 2005

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The 1990s were the high water-mark for a certain kind of conservatism

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Andrew Sullivan:

History might eventually judge that the 1990s was the high water-mark for a certain kind of conservatism – smaller but more effective government. Ironic it happened under a Democratic president.

Truly. And though I didn’t like him at the time, Newt Gingrich was good at defending the liberal traditions within the Republican party, especially the ideal of limited government. However, Gingrich destroyed himself, and the Republican party was damaged, when he ...

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September 13th, 2005

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In disasters, the lucky live and the unlucky die

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Cathy Seipp tries to remind us that luck plays a large role in our lives:

I’m a big believer in sensible living — paying your bills on time, keeping your car in good repair and credit cards under the limit, staying in shape, eating fruits and vegetables, keeping flashlights and gallons of extra water on hand, and so on. Because of course all this increases your odds of avoiding unfortunate events. But maybe ...

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September 13th, 2005

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Big government conservatives betray America’s political traditions

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

In America we have the unfortunate habit of referring to liberals as “conservatives”. In particular, that strain of Republicanism that has always defended the entreprenurial tradition of Adam Smith is often, for no good reason, called “conservative.” Thus the most liberal aspects of the reign President Reagan is called his “conservative legacy.”

America has only twice had a true conservative party. Once was immediately following the Civil War, when the Democrats were almost ...

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September 11th, 2005

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Early Christian political thought, later suppressed, emphasized the individual’s capacity for self-rule

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Elaine Pagels’s writings on early Christian thinking makes me aware that early Christian political thought emphasized each individuals ability to govern themselves, especially if the individual was baptized. This line of Christian thought was more liberal than the Protestantism of the 1500s because, as near as I can tell, it did not insist that true Christians would always be a minority. If it allowed the possibility that some day everyone could be ...

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September 11th, 2005

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Is an emphasis on college access a detriment to social mobility?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Chris Bertram links to an old article by Alison Wolf in which Wolf attacks the idea that college education is an easy to increase social mobility for a society. The argument is that money spent on K-12 education does far more to increase the ability of the average person to make a good wage. This says nothing, of course, about the wages of an individual with a college degree – it ...

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September 10th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Who needs a college degree?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Chris Bertram expresses doubt that access to college education could increase social mobility:

But for many jobs there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that a person with a degree in English literature, philosophy, chemistry or media studies will be any better in-post than someone who never went near a university. Yet today those people are excluded from any possibility of getting into many careers. Ditto, for the most part, careers in politics: ...

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August 14th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Where have all the heroes gone?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Ezra Klein is wondering where have all the heroes gone:

We don’t have heroes anymore, not strong ones… When Gary Hart asks where the leaders are, that’s what he’s scanning for. Larger-than-life figures whose voices rumble with the power to take down an Administration, whose fists strike tables and whose fury leaves Tim Russert, truth be told, a little scared, a little awed.

But we’re over-fished. As a culture, we seem to have left ...

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August 14th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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The Cunning Realist: some of the Republicans running the country have lost their minds

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

This is another one of those “A Conservative Speaks Out Against Bush” stories. The conservative writer of The Cunning Realist blog has this to say regarding Cindy Sheehan:

If one needed any further proof that this incarnation of “Republicans” and alleged conservatives includes a faction that has gone completely and tragically over the edge, the smear campaign against Cindy Sheehan is it….

The essence of the right-wing smear machine’s “outing” of Cindy Sheehan is ...

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August 13th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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BattlePanda: revolutionary idealism is dangerous because it makes everything too simple

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

In a post called Revolution Or Evolution BattlePanda says she prefers incremental reform to the radical over turning of society:

I think I am a pragmatist by nature, so this current disposition towards gradualism suits me well personally. People go starry-eyed when they talk of the revolutionary atmosphere of the 60′s and lament the current retrenchment of th progressive left. But in my view, constant revolution is both impossible and undesirable.

In the comments, ...

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August 13th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Virginia Postrel: the Republicans have given up their free-market beliefs

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Virginia Postrel laments the death of the liberal element in the Republican party:

Big-spending Republicanism isn’t an alternative to social issues. It’s a complement–and one that (I hope) may eventually backfire. By jetisoning any pretense to free-market principles, the GOP is defining itself entirely as the party of the religious right. The subsidies to friends are simply business as usual for whatever party is in power, a tool for fundraising but not for ...

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August 13th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Battlepanda: liberals should not be racist and sexist

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Battlepanda complains about the racist and sexist remarks that are sometimes made by men who are supposedly loyal to such progressive causes as racial and gender equality:

I suppose Mithra’s “point” is that Michelle Malkin’s popularity on the right could only be as some sort of window dressing because being conservative automatically makes you so bigoted in Mithra’s view that you would never take anything a minority woman says seriously otherwise. Yeah. Tokenism. ...

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August 13th, 2005

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A nation without women

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Star Wars is not especially scary, because we know it is not real, nor possible. The Death Star would be terrifying if real, but the whole story is pure fantasy. Science fiction stories which depict dystopias become scary only when they come close to reality. Such stories are scary when they touch upon things which might come to pass during our lifetimes – genetically engineered viruses that destroy half of humanity, for ...

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August 12th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Susie Bright: how can weblogs make money?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Susie Bright is wondering how she, a professional writer with bills to pay, can justify the writing she does for her weblog when she’s making no money on it:

I “make a living” in publishing, writing books and toiling the fields of the print media. I think a lot of authors and journalists like myself find ourselves with one foot in a dying art where we work twice as hard to make ...

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August 11th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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John Stuart Mill: revivals of religion are often revivals of bigotry

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

In his book On Liberty, John Stuart Mill makes the point that religious revivals are always revivals of bigotry, at least to “narrow and uncultivated” minds. This is as true today in America as it was in Britain in 1859. I’ve spent most of the last 15 years living in the American South (North Carolina, Louisiana, Virginia), and I’ve many times had the chance to observe that aspects of the Christian fundamentalist ...

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August 4th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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John Stuart Mill: government has the right to forbid marriage

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

As I’ve said before, I’m reading over John Stuart Mill’s book, On Liberty. I’m shocked to read that Mill felt the government had the right to keep people from being married:

It is not in the matter of education only that misplaced notions of liberty prevent moral obligations on the part of parents from being recognized, and legal obligations from being imposed, where there are the strongest grounds for the former always, and ...

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July 31st, 2005

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Philosopher Alain Badiou speaks on Evil

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Written by Phillip Honenberger

In my estimation, Alain Badiou is one of the most interesting philosophers writing today. Badiou (who teaches at the Ecole Normal Superior in France) published a book in 1993, in English translation, entitled “Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil.” In an interview conducted in 2001, he answered questions about his own conception of evil, focusing particularly on the issue of evil in politics.

The link is: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/5/alainbadiou.php

For those ...

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July 29th, 2005

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John Stuart Mill: neither society nor government should interfere with individual freedom

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

I don’t have much time to write today so I’m just going to post an excerpt from John Stuart Mill’s book On Liberty. I’m reading the Norton Critical Edition, printed 1975. In this book Mill makes the radical argument that neither society nor government should limit an individual’s freedom, save where an individual might cause harm to others. The most radical thing about this argument, to my mind, is that Mill makes ...

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July 27th, 2005

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Oscar Pereiro wins stage 16 in Pau, then gets massage

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

I noticed this over at the British blog Blognor Regis. Would this photo ever show up in an American sports magazine?

The caption of the first photo is “Oscar Pereiro winning stage 16 in Pau.” And the caption of this photo is “And receiving a well earned massage afterwards. Worth waiting for as the man says.”

Source

July 27th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Why does economic populism meet with rejection from some groups that might benefit?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Angelica at BattlePanda suggests that the rhetoric of the Democrats regarding economic populism must change:

“Yesterday, I pondered the future of economic populism. If Steve Rose et. al. are right, and I think they are, we cannot expect more than about 20% (max) of the population to benefit directly from the kind of strong social safety net the Democrats are advocating at any one time. Dadahead raises the good point that the numbers ...

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July 27th, 2005

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Could the Democrats ever become the majority party again?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Angelica at BattlePanda wonders aloud what, other than economic populism, can win a majority for the Democratic party:

– Although it salves the wounds of defeat to conceptualize the majority of Bush-voters as hoodwinked into voting against their economic interests, the truth is the bulk of Americans are simply too well-off to benefit from the economic programs that Democrats are pushing for. It’s terrible for the 20% in this country that are uninsured. ...

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July 25th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Some graphic design humor

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

“I don’t want the naked ones, I want the ones with nuts.”

– what her boss just said on the phone to Laura Denyes. This is one graphic designer speaking to another, so of course she was explaining to Laura that she didn’t want the photos where the earring screws appear alone, instead she wanted the photos where the earrings are mounted on the nuts that hold them together.

They are working on ...

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July 25th, 2005

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Is Friedrich Hayek a libertarian?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Friedrich Hayek is not a libertarian. Many on the libertarian right-wing of American politics worship Hayek for taking a strong stand against socialism when socialism was at its peak in England during the 1940s. Oddly enough, there are libertarians in America today who honestly think the Democrats are in favor of those things that Hayek opposed. Such libertarians are misled. Hayek offers a reasonable description of those economic policies that the Democrats ...

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July 21st, 2005

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What liberalism is not

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

The terrorists who have struck London and Bagdad in recent weeks do a fair job of demonstrating what liberalism is not. It is not a political system based on violence, nor one ruled by fear, nor one that tolerates religious fanatics who wish to hurt people for living in ways they dislike. The group Unite Against Terror sums it up well:

These attacks were the latest atrocities committed by terrorist groups inspired by ...

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July 21st, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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What is liberalism?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Some good points by Chris Cobb, who was writing in response to Mark Schmitt:

First of all, liberalism predates liberals. That seems obvious, but it leads me to my second point. Mark’s quick list of liberalism’s highlights are really liberals’ greatest hits. But liberalism is more fundamental–it is the foundation of modern democracy. What Mark and most establishment Dems refer to when they say liberalism seems to actually mean the landmark policies implemented ...

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July 20th, 2005

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Heretical questions regarding free trade

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

William Greider writes:

An authentic debate might start by asking heretical questions: Why is the United States one of the few advanced economies that suffers from perennial trade deficits? Why do new trade agreements, despite official promises, always leave the United States with a deeper deficit hole, with another wave of jobs moving overseas? How do the authorities explain the 30-year stagnation of working-class wages that is peculiar to America? Are we supposed ...

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July 20th, 2005

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John Locke’s distinction between liberty and the voluntary

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Written by Phillip Honenberger

I’m still working my way through Locke’s “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Perhaps some others involved in this blog would like to pick up a copy for themselves and dialogue a bit?

My reasons for concentrating on the Essay here are as follows.

Locke’s text is, on the surface, a mighty tome devoted to classical philosophical questions of an epistemological, metaphysical, or ethical nature. Though these sorts of questions are undoubtedly ...

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July 18th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Liberia last year, just after the siege of Monrovia

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

One criticism often made of classical liberalism is that it showed far too much concern for the protection of property, and not enough concern for other civil rights that might have been more important to those who owned no property. However, this story over at Marginal Revolution made me think of how much the protection of property means to having a normal life. Locke divided human history into The State Of Nature, ...

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July 18th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Eventually, everything we do will be on record with Google

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

The generation now in its 20s and 30s is online, and the fact that our thoughts are being recorded forever and kept track of by Google has some worrisome implications for privacy. About the Helaine Olen incident, BattlePanda remarks:

One small chink of comfort: eventually, under the merciless memory of google, we are all bloggers. I mean, even those who do not blog will eventually accumulate a substantial google history. It will be ...

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July 18th, 2005

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Anne Zook on the comforts of tradition

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

In the comments at Peevish, I wondered aloud why we still need to be talking about non-traditional roles for men, a conversation that should have ended 30 years ago. Anne Zook, in response, attempts to explain the comforts of tradition:

In ritual, in tradition, there is comfort. Security. Change is scary and confusing. It could be an improvement but as long as the “old way” works (and from the perspective of these ...

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July 18th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Nice Guys

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Lindsay Beyerstein

However, guys who attribute their dating failures to niceness per se are often being self-serving. It’s comforting to attribute to excessive niceness what might be better explained by shyness, awkwardness, or other less flattering interpretations. (I’m equally suspicious when Maureen Dowd complains that she can’t get a date because she’s too intimidating. Frankly, there are more parsimonious explanations.)

Often, the self-proclaimed nice guy wants special credit for just for being nice. It’s ...

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July 17th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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A Writer’s Shortcut to Stronger Writing

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Some good advice on writing. I especially liked:

florid verbs. “The car grumbled its way to the curb” is on the verge of being so colorful it’s distracting. {Florid fr. Lat. floreo, to flower.}

If a manuscript looks as if it’s sprouted leaves and branches, if every verb is “unusual,” if the vocabulary is more interesting than the story … fix it by going to more ordinary verbs. There are vocabulary-addicts who will praise ...

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July 17th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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An equal rights amendment for women

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Isn’t now the perfect moment to pass an Equal Rights Amendment, ensuring women full equality before the law and sending a message to the world that in our country the citizenship of women has the same importance as the citizenship of men? Wouldn’t the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment make perfectly clear that American values are better than the values of the terrorists?

I agree completely with President W. Bush when he ...

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July 17th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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What if women conquered a city?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

This is a thought experiment, not a carefully argued essay.

There are tens of thousands of women in the American military.What would it be like if we formed an all-female division and allowed the women to take over all security for a large city? Again, this is a thought experiment, not a policy suggestion. If we gathered up 60,000 female troops into one division and put, say, Bagdad, or Tikrit, under the its ...

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July 17th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Is America a republic or an empire?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

My friends Robert Clark and Alex Marshall and I got into a discussion, via email, about whether America is best thought of as a republic or an empire. Since Alex, at the end, asked me to define what I meant by the words “liberal”, “republic” and “empire” I thought this discussion would be relevant to this weblog. Therefore, with their permission, I’m reposting the emails of our conversation.

The conversation started on June ...

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July 11th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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John Locke and Religious Fundamentalism

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Written by Phillip Honenberger

In a conversation with Lawrence a few months ago, it dawned on me that the world-wide enemy of liberalism today might easily be identified as fundamentalism. Christian fundamentalism (we are often reminded) appears to have been a strong motivation for the re-election of Mr. Bush, and Islamic fundamentalism (we are often told) is at the root of the politically-oppressive regimes in the Middle East, as well as the motivation ...

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July 9th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Money and Motherhood: some contradictions

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

I’m trying to put together a list of all the ways people are struggling with the issue of money and kids, and the trade-offs of not working. Perhaps you can help me.

Most people believe at least one of the following points, and some believe all four:

1.) People who don’t work are a drain on society.

2.) The value of one’s work is measured with rough accuracy by how much money it brings in.

3.) ...

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July 8th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Evolution and religious belief

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

I noticed Amy Welborn talking about evolution today. She is talking from the point of view of a conservative Catholic. There were a number of points, from her post and from the comments, that I want to comment on.

“There is not a single, unified theory of evolution–there are theories of evolution (as JPII noted).”

Agreed. Darwin, during his life, argued for 3 processes shaping evolution. The first process he argued for was natual ...

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June 27th, 2005

In What Is Liberalism

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Does diversity of opinion contribute to a society’s health?

[Originally published on a weblog called "What Is Liberalism?"]

Later, I’m going to quote a passage from John Stuart Mill’s book, On Liberty, but first, I’d like to start by quoting an anonymous, critical review of the book:

Mr. John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty is a very melancholy book on a great subject. It is written in the sincere foreboding that the strong individualities of the old types of the English character are in imminent danger of being swallowed up in ...

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