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Shall We Dance?

At Tapped, Mark Schmitt is entertaining himself by making fun of the newly-released Third Way strategy paper, "The New Rules Economy." Lots of really competent people have already weighed in on this, so I’m not really going to say all that much about the substance of the thing except to note that I more or less agree with Schmitt about the actual policy proposals it contains. It’s hard to see any real reason to get behind, say, tax deductions for college tuition; it’s a program for redistributing funds from the upper middle class to the lower middle class, nothing more. Well, nothing more unless you realize the significant extent to which “lower middle class” and “swing voter in Ohio” overlap.

Besides, I’m not really a policy guy, anyway. I’m a theorist, so the parts of the paper that I find interesting aren’t so much the policy parts. No, what I find far more interesting is the extent to which the opening sections of the paper extend an olive branch to libertarians. Yes, I know that the Democratic Party has its fair share of shrill leftists. To be fair, though, the Republican Party, where many libertarians have found their home since the days of Goldwater and Reagan, has its fair share of theocratic warmongers. Neither party has a lock on insanity. That leaves libertarians with a few options.

    A. Side with Republicans for their stance on fiscal matters and hold our nose and try to ignore the religion-based social nuttiness.
    B. Side with Democrats for their stance on social matters and hold our nose and try to ignore the neopopulism.
    C. Reject both major parties and vote for the Libertarian Party.
    D. Bail on politics entirely and wait for the revolution.

Frat Boy Humor Isn\'t Funny, Dammit!

You know, we liberals really have enough baggage without getting tagged -- as we so often do -- as humorless. So it doesn't help things all that much when Amanda Marcotte takes time out of her busy day to point out that this shirt Just Isn't Funny. Because rape is Serious Business.

Funny, funny college boy

More Free Trade Confusion

In poking about the internet looking for commentary on the whole South Korea FTA/John Edwards thing, I came across this gem at Read more »

Edwards on (Not So) Free Trade

A statement from John Edwards on a free trade agreement with South Korea:

Thousands of American autoworkers learned this week that they will lose their jobs because of ill-conceived and poorly enforced trade agreements - and what is the Bush Administration doing? It's working overtime to sign a trade agreement with a country that refuses to open its market to American cars.

Jobs and Yglesias on Tenure

Following-up on Jonathan's post on Jobs and Dell dishing on education, I noticed that Matt Yglesias has a discussion of this point here. Yglesias makes the (not unreasonable) point that having the ability to hire and fire teachers will be useful only if there's actually a big backlog of would-be teachers who can't manage to get hired thanks to tenure. Read more »

Patrick Goes to Hollywood

I'm concerned that Catallarchy is getting just a tad too lighthearted, what with the ongoing discussions of things like organ donation and abortion. So I figured that in my inaugural post as a full-time Catallarch, I'd help us all...relax...with a nice little discussion of torture. Hey, wait, don't skip to that next post just yet. Read more »

On Natural and Non-Natural Rights

My last couple of posts have (indirectly at least, and sorry for the bad pun) addressed utilitarianism generally and hedonism more specifically. I've been arguing that hedonism (a theory of the good which holds that pleasure and only pleasure has value) is a natural basis for normativity (that is, a theory of the right -- an account of what we ought to do), and that it's a far less spooky basis for the right than is a theory of natural rights. Read more »

End of an Era 2

Last week, I wrote a somewhat self-indulgent post lamenting the end of an era, as Randolph-Macon Woman's College voted to go coed. Now I see that about 1/3 of the current students have been refusing to attend class or eat in the dining hall to protest the decision. (Odd, isn't it, how willing students are to sacrifice for a good cause. I mean, skipping class and not eating dining hall food. Oh, the humanity!) Read more »

On Pleasure

At the end of my previous post there's an interesting (to me, anyway) discussion about the value of pleasure. Since that discussion is buried at the end of a fairly long thread, and since Jonathan nicely extended my stay here at Catallarchy, I thought that I'd comment on the discussion out here. Read more »

Freedoms, Postive and Negative

Welcome, sports, political theory fans, to an all new edition of Test Your Liberal Intuitions! Today's exciting question: The claim, "Joe is free to drink bourbon tonight," means which of the following?

A. There are no agents who are coercively preventing Joe from drinking bourbon tonight.
B. Joe has drinking bourbon as an available option tonight. Read more »

What Does Exit Really Mean?

If you aren't currently following the discussion in Steve Schreiber's Freedom of Movement post, then you really should be. I've just a quick comment here with, perhaps, more to follow later.

In response to Steve's worries about the viability of exit, John T. Kennedy comments that Read more »

The End of an Era

From the files of, "This won't really interest anyone but me" comes this news that Randolph-Macon Woman's College has voted to go coed. Read more »

No More Skinny Models

From CNN comes the annoucement that skinny models are being banned from fashion shows.

MADRID, Spain (Reuters) -- The world's first ban on overly thin models at a top-level fashion show in Madrid has caused outrage among modeling agencies and raised the prospect of restrictions at other venues.

Activists have pledged that if the restrictions are not followed, "the next step is to seek legislation, just like with tobacco." Read more »

Libertarians and Conservatives

I've written in the past about the connections between (contemporary) liberalism and libertarianism. I haven't much touched on the topic of conservatism, in very large part because I don't exactly know what conservatism actually means. I see that Tom Anger at Liberty Corner has a post in which he, following Roger Scruton, outlines three distinct branches of thought that typically fall under the label "conservative". Read more »

Winning in Iraq

Okay, I'll just go ahead and admit it right off the bat: I haven't the foggiest idea how to actually win the war in Iraq. Yes, I write about just war theory. And yes, I'm trying to get more involved in the day-to-day realities of politics as opposed to the ivory tower of political theory. That said, the fact remains that when it comes to thinking about actual strategies for winning a war, I prefer to leave that to experts. Maybe someday we'll have a President who takes that approach too. Read more »