Remembering

Today it’s Memorial Day, so let’s take a moment to honor all those who have made the supreme sacrifice.

Myself, I spent the weekend in Eastern Washington. Around the campfire last night talk turned to the WTO and its effects. My favorite free-trade argument is Tom Friedman’s: No two nations with a McDonald’s will go to war with one another. I support international free trade because I don’t like war.

So I have to smile when I read this. The U.S. is filing a complaint with the WTO because it accuses the E.U. of illegally subsidizing Airbus. This is how international disputes should all be handled, in my opinion.

As to the substance of the arument? Well, let’s just say that the $1.7 Billion that the E.U. is accused of using to subsidize Airbus is just about half of the $3.2 Billion that Washington State handed Boeing last year in the form of tax breaks.

Watching the E.U. and the U.S. go at each other like that — “YOU’re the bigger corporate welfare state! No, YOU are!!” — gives me hope. One day maybe Israel and Iran will have the same argument.

In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day. Have a cold one.

Relativism = Modern Conservatism

About a month ago, The Professor wrote a thought-provoking post, entitled Liberalism /= Relativism, where he argued that Liberals need not be moral relativists.

In fact, recent events show that it is Conservatives who, ironically, are today’s relativists. Read this piece by E. J. Dionne, and, more importantly, the followup at The Slant.

The bottom line, as Dionne writes, is that “today’s conservative activists have become the new postmodernists.” This idea is central to David Foster Wallace’s article on conservative talk radio in The Atlantic. He spends a lot of time with John Ziegler, host of the new drive-time slot on the local right-wing station in LA. And basically he makes the same point: how ironic it is that those who have attacked postmodernism most vociferously are in fact the biggest relativists.

Accuse your enemy of your own worst crime.

In attacking the “liberal media,” conservative activists have argued that there is no absolute truth, that everything is biased. They’ve helped fragment the media audience and accelerated the “cocoon” effect, whereby people only get news from a person with whom they already agree.

Bill O’Reilly spends countless hours bashing the post-modern relativism of B-grade college profs, but fails to realize that he himself is the king of all relativists. His show is a discourse on the promise and peril of post-modernism that does justice to his Harvard pedigree. The faculty should applaud him.

Support this Bill

See this post at The Carpetbagger Report. Looks like we might finally be getting somewhere with real, independent redistricting. Rep. John Tanner has introduced a bill:

* States would be required to establish independent commissions of at least five members to review new census data and come up with one, or several, plans to present to their legislatures for approval.

* The map would be approved unamended by the Legislature and governor. If they can’t agree, the map would go to court.

* The commissions would comprise an equal number of members appointed by the minority and majority floor leaders in the two state legislative houses. A majority of those members must appoint an additional member, who would serve as chairman.

* Those commissioners must be registered voters for at least four years, but cannot have held elective or appointed office, been an employee of a political campaign or worked for a political party. No member of the commission can run for the House until after the districts are redrawn the next time, or in 10 years.

Independent districts are the first step toward ending safe House districts. Ending safe House districts is the first step towards the emergence of Radical Centrism.

Which is a good thing.

Who’s on First Redux

Who’s On First (Shrub Version)

Note: Email forward from my cousin Justin. Sadly, I cannot take credit for this gem. It’s probably old … my guess is recycled since at least Nixon. Anyway, I got a chuckle out of it. If you know who’s responsible, please let me know so I can give kudos. Thx!

–Matski

untitled.bmp

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What’s happening?

Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.

George: That’s what I want to know.

Condi: That’s what I’m telling you.

George: That’s what I’m asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow’s name.

Condi: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The new leader of China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The main man in China!

Condi: Hu is leading China.

George: Now whaddya’ asking me for?

Condi: I’m telling you, Hu is leading China.

George: Well, I’m asking you. Who is leading China?

Condi: That’s the man’s name.

George: That’s who’s name?

Condi: Yes.

George: Will you, or will you not, tell me the name of the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he’s dead in the Middle East.

Condi: That’s correct.

George: Then who is in China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir is in China?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Then who is?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Look Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.

Condi: Kofi?

George: No, thanks.

Condi: You want Kofi?

George: No.

Condi: You don’t want Kofi.

George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi?

George: Milk! Will you please make the call?

Condi: And call who?

George: Who is the guy at the U.N?

Condi: Hu is the guy in China

George: Will you stay out of China?!

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi.

George: All right! With cream and two sugars.

The Stranger.com Doesn’t Suck Anymore

Good to see that The Stranger has revamped their website, including an all new blog, subtitled, in typical Stranger Hubris, as “Seattle’s Only Blog.”

Whatever.

I’m just glad they decided to update their site. The old one was so… umm.. 1997.

Update: After reading through the blog posts, I notice that a disproportionate number of them rag on the Seattle Weekly. WTF? I guess now we know what’s going through the heads of The Stranger’s staff most of the day.

Tse-Whit-Zen

If you’re looking for something to do, definitely take a gander at the Seattle Times’ wonderfully in-depth coverage of the Klallam Village of Tse-Whit-Zen.

Several years ago, the State began work on a dry dock facility near Port Angeles, but had to stop when they discovered this massive archeological site and burial ground (literally hundreds of bodies). After having spent upwards of $60 million on the project, it looks like it will be abandoned. At this point, it looks like not enough resources went into the pre-building archeological review. Which is a shame for us taxpayers, but also an amazing find all around.

A Democrat Blind Spot

Josh Marshall has a strategy vis-a-vis Social Security. Responding to the idea that Republicans are interested in making IRAs easier, he writes:

But, for my part, all of the Democrats’ mental energy should be going into strengthening retirement security for middle-income Americans. Period. That’s really not an issue to hash out with Republicans because most of the things the president’s party wants to do either damages retirement security or is irrelevant to it.

Huh? Do middle-income Americans not have IRAs or 401(k)s? Josh would seem to have a bit of a blind spot here. Ordinarily I applaud his neoliberal instincts. But his fixation with Social Security lately may have somehow transported him back to 1955, when pensions were in their heyday and only East Cost aristocrats with names like “Bush” invested in the stock market. But the situation is far different today. Many Americans, middle- and upper-income alike, have retirement savings in the Stock market, especially entry-level things like IRAs.

This is a Democratic blind spot, IMHO. I agree that some sort of baseline social security is vital. But can you seriously talk about Retirement in America while calling 401(k)s and IRAs “irrelevant” to middle-income Americans??

Out of the Loop

After dedicating his political future to this judicial nominee business, It must be awfully painful to write this sentence:

Mr. President, though I am not a party to the memorandum of understanding signed last night by 14 of my colleagues…

In other words, “I’m the Senate majority leader, but I’m…uh… out of the loop.” Can you imagine LBJ being in the wilderness like that?