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Bugger Thy Neighbour

by redstar Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 07:27:57 AM EST

They still don't get it.

John Aravosis, whose Americablog is one of the more progressive web logs in the United States, has a number of pet issues he likes to push. Probably first and foremost is gay rights, which is understandable given his background. Lately though, he's been pushing for the US' god-granted right to cheap oil and gasoline. The spectacle is nothing short of disgusting:

OPEC Hoping to Push World into Recession

Screw OPEC. I seriously hope the Obama people have a stern talk with the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, among others, and let them know that the next time their existence is threatened the American people won't be so disposed towards saving their greedy, ungrateful asses.

More of Mr Aravosis claiming that Americans deserve 50-cent per litre gasoline can be found here, here, and here.


Well, without a doubt, the corrupt kings of the burning sands of Arabia are greedy and, depending on how you define the term, ungrateful as well. Let's see if this stops  Hillary Clinton from kissing their collective rings in due time, like many a US envoy before her, this time on behalf of the new President for Change, Barack Obama, rather than on behalf of the outgoing President for Oil, George W. Bush.

But if John Aravosis thinks the current economic crisis, whose spreading to parts of the world beyond his own guilty shores is also often celebrated on his blog (and by a Parisian-based American, no less), is because of oil, he must be on a different planet than the rest of us. Probably the same planet where  gay rights bloggers who once worked for [extreme-right-wing loony Senators come from.

Note to Mr. Aravosis: when your own economic system is the real cause for dire problems with which the rest of us must now come to grips, it might be a good time to Shut The Fuck Up about what others are, in your not so very environmentally sound (or, for that matter, progressive) opinion, doing wrong, and get about helping clean the fuck up in your own back yard.

And note to Chris in Paris: It ain't so much true that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. It's more like when the US lays a diseased crap in the middle of an increasingly smaller world, the rest of us tend to be prone to catching e-Coli.

You see, Gay rights, that's everybody's problem...global warming, certainly not John Aravosis'

So, one "progressive blog" from the US encourages cheap gasoline for that country's fleet of SUVs, that's not a trend... what are the other ones doing now that Saint Barack has been elected President?

Over at the Great Orange Satan, they're fawning. Perhaps this is to be expected, but certainly, we were expecting change, right? Those of us outside the US were welcoming a different posture in US foreign policy, too.

It's true that some of us were not very impressed with the less-than-progressive foreign policy posturing of Obama the candidate, the candidate who would invade Pakistan. But we were even less impressed with Clinton the candidate and her knee-jerk aggressivity on the subject of Iran, and whose support for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment putting that aggressivity into US law was once rightfully derided by Kos himself. We hoped that Obama the President might be a little more of a man of peace, less a man of Realpolitik, US projection of hard power and the discredited bellicose policies of the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush administration which benefit a few at the top of the US food chain at the expense of all the rest of us.  

Alas, Obama keeps on the previous administration's Defense Secretary, one whose fondness for Missile Defense Shields will, if unleavened, cause a real problem for us in Europe, especially as regards very important relations with Russia. And he names Ms. Clinton his Secretary of State, in charge of, among other things, going to speak with an open mind to the Iranians.

Is the editorial line at Daily Kos disappointed? Not on your life! They're Literally fawning over this, too.

You see, turns out Obama isn't all that far from Clinton on Iran after all:

She voted for a controversial amendment offered by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Lieberman that proposed labeling Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization (Redstar note: one she was roundly criticized for by Kos at the time) Obama missed that vote but called the amendment a repeat of the mistakes that led to war in Iraq; however, he cosponsored an earlier bill declaring the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. (Redstar note: funny Kos didn't bring that bill up in the primaries)

You see, Obama thinks the Iranian army is a terrorist group too! So, those who think now that Clinton and Obama were different on foreign policy...move along, nothing to see here!

Well, the so-called progressive blogosphere in the US might be fooled that they're getting some "change," but the rest of us aren't. Note to US "Progressive" blogosphere : Personne n'est dupe. Note to those who are still holding their breaths for change, it suffices to see the front page headlines of today's print version of Le Monde: Obama's Centrist Government.

Final note to US "progressives": centrist in your country means hard-right in ours.

Display:
Good rant.

Regarding Obama, give the man some space. He is probably no more than Reagan 5, but he should be given an opportunity to show what he is at. His nominations spell the continuation of Reaganomics, I grant you that. But lets see... He still hasn't take charge.

Reganomics is clearly unsustainable, so, if he continues through that path, that will lead to the demise of the US as a symbol (a hard-right symbol, I mean). The ideological export of neoliberalism will stop. There will be no more arguments of: "Look, in the US trickle-down economics work, we should imitate".

The only real asset of the US, if they don't get their economics working is their military. And that I am afraid of: they've proven to be war-mongering and in a context of highly economic distress it might come to increased military use (nukes et al, which they've used in the past).

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:00:47 AM EST
right now, I suspect they have one last push left in them. Despite the very real prospect of 10+% of GDP budget deficits coming out of Washington for the next year or two (at least), I see all the money flowing into US Treasuries, driving yields on not just ST but also LT paper to exceedingly low levels, as evidence that, at the very least, those who make markets globally still see refuge in the great ol' US of A, warts and all.

We'll see. But, the downside risk is what you say. It'd be nice if they could get a decade or so of peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world, and multipolarity rather than the unipolarity to which its elites subscribe as a dominant lens through which to view the world, under their belt before their economic system finally goes bankrupt under its contradictions.

We can always hope.

by redstar on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:52:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My expectations of Obama's foreign policy aren't very high, but I'm inclined to give him a chance to fuck-up before attacking him on it. He's been pushing the line that his appointees work for him, implementing his policy, so lets see how that works out.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:07:22 AM EST
really criticising Obama the President (yet) though the early signs are not particularly encouraging on the Foreign Policy front.

What I am criticising is the bait and switch a certain brand of self-described "progressive" in the US alter-media permits themselves. I'm not so much criticising Obama as I am Kos, Kos' editorial staff, Aravosis et al.

by redstar on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:45:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kos et al are blind on foreign policy, and are killing their own Overton Window strategy. Keeping mum about, or even adopting centrist policies of the Reagan, Bush admins wasn't how the 'conservative revolution' progressed on the other side.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 03:57:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the best developments on foreign policy by the future Obama administration are more likely to be somewhat unforeseen consequences of it's own internal policy (if it materializes) than from deliberate actions of any kind of diplomacy.
by Torres on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most interesting part is - what are Europeans going to do about it? Any of it?

As long as we don't see Brown, Sarkozy and Merkel going to Washington together, literally or figuratively, and say we want this, this and this, or we're out of Afghanistan, among other things, ... all of this involvement in US politics is just a mask, a proxy debate, or whatever, when the real issue is the unwillingness of our elected officials to take decisions and work together in our common interest.

Dragging your feet, which is largely how Europe reacted to disagreements with Bush, is hardly a policy that will effect anything, other than buying domestic cover.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:32:43 AM EST
If this is the way that Europe really functions, if the US goes under as the super-power and is replaced by China, will your leaders simply start kissing the Chinese asses?  I've asked this question before.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:39:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's harder to kiss the Chinese' ass. It's far smaller than a typical American one.
by redstar on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good one.

We're obviously not as culturally predisposed to kiss Chinese ass. All the same, divide and rule can work for China, or Russia, as well as for the US.

You can probably spend three essays trying to answer what the Twank is asking. The short answer would be that in a world that has south and east Asia as the centre of power, Europe is a peripheral region of little interest to anyone.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:50:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which, if you think about it, isn't necessarily a bad thing to be!
by redstar on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:53:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i was thinking the same thing!

let the others powerplay, we've had centuries of it.

if only it were so simple...we have our karmic kickback from africa still almost completely unprocessed.

my other bet for peaceable living would be costa rica!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 03:09:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Twank's comment is highly spot on, and, as you point out, very hard to answer. But I would be inclined for another explanation: The model that America exported since the cold war is highly convenient for the European elites:

  1. Before the Berlin wall, to stop communists. A good thing, lets be frank. A long story could be written here...
  2. After the Berlin wall, as a trickle-down model of convenience for the well-offs.

So, I don't see it as ass-licking per se. I see it more as a deliberate attempt to import American values (the bad ones: inequity, violence, increasing ties between economic and political/media power. Not importing the good ones) of interest for the media-economic elites.
by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:01:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mention the import of bad American values but you don't enumerate even one of the good.  What would those be, exactly?  I have trouble seeing them myself.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:28:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Much more respect for foreigners, immigrants. Lets call this the Franco-disease :) .

Day-to-day relationships are much more democratic (I remember Chomsky saying that the US is the country where the mailman and the professor address themselves in the same way). For instance in my country, you can see, on how people are addressed their relative social position (use of academic titles - especially when addressing hierarchical superiors, and more formal declinations in sentences).

Self-reliance.

Although American social mobility is a myth if you look at stats, there is clearly much more openness if you want to change profession.

This just of the top of my head. There are more.

Regarding bad values, the list was also not exhaustive, of course. ;)

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:36:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the good values are lacking in France, some other country, or Europe in general?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:43:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's pretty general.

The English like to think they are different on some of these than the rest of us but they are simply the same in a different way.

by redstar on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:48:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forget about that old "we all put our pants on one leg at a time; in 100 years, everybody's remains all look the same." stuff.  How boring.  And dysfunctional.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:58:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, Its good that you mention it. I take the (arguably politically incorrect) steps of trying to:

  1. Make generalizations about the behavior of a certain society (but I ALWAYS evaluate individuals regardless of that).
  2. Rate that behavior from a moral standpoint
  3. Have an intuitive average of all moral issues (so I have something like a civilizational rank of nations in my head. Scandinavia being at the top, if you are interested)

I am neither a moral nor a cultural relativist. Much less a multiculturalist.

And you know what? I am not feeling like I am going to apologize for it.

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:00:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, exaggerating it:
Moral (as to countries and the mentalities that they breed) is a Gini coefficient.
by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:35:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And countries with a low gini are more moral, it seems, going by Scandinavia. I like the Scandinavians, but they have a puritanical strain in their culture that, perhaps as a Dutchman, I find alienating.

Abroad - Oslo Exhibition Wonders, `Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?' - NYTimes.com

Marta Kuzma, who organized the exhibition, kindly rounded up a few local experts the other day to mull over an answer at lunch. Berge Ragnar Furre, a Norwegian historian, theologian and a politician in the Socialist Left Party, now on the Nobel Committee, offered this thought: "You have to remember that here in Norway we have also had a strong tradition of liberal democracy that is against sexuality, so we are historically divided as a liberal society." In other words, Norwegians have long split between being sexually liberated and puritanical, while remaining politically liberal in both cases.

Havard Nilsen, a fellow historian specializing in Wilhelm Reich, the psychiatrist and sexologist, nodded. "There has always been a moral high-mindedness here about sexuality, connected, like the labor movement and teetotaling, with issues of reform and salvation," he said. "It used to be that even prominent actors in Scandinavia acted in pornographic movies because it was socially acceptable here, being linked to liberal politics."

But already by the late 1970s, as Wencke Mühleisen, who teaches women's studies at the University of Oslo, pointed out, "feminism in Norway turned against sexuality and toward the family, the winning political line cooperating with the state in looking for equality laws that meant a gradual cleansing of sexual promiscuity." Culture generally became more globalized in the following years, along with patterns of social behavior, meaning that "while it was normal to see women here in the '70s on the beach without a bikini top, now it is very seldom," Ms. Mühleisen added. "The commercial ideal body has replaced the desexualized healthy body."

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:54:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on where you go, I think. Copenhagen doesn't seem markedly more puritanical than - say - Berlin. Out in the fjords, on the Atlantic coast or in the Swedish interior, though...

It's true that there's less topless sunbathing on Danish beaches than on - say - French ones, and less than there used to be thirty years ago, according to my parents. A fact that I attribute to a combination of American cultural influence (which has been strong in Denmark since WWII) and the fact that most of the year it's too damn cold to run around nude.

And of course these things run to some degree in step with the political cycles. When a right-wing government is in power, society moves towards conformity. When the right wing is out of power, the push towards conformity lessens notably.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 11:24:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With regard to Denmark I don't know, but in Sweden and Norway, at least, the strain also runs strongly through the social democratic parties.

Those two countries also have the best equality laws in the world, so if it's been a tradeoff, as Mühleisen implies it was, it's certainly been historically justified. The freedom women have in those models compared to the, say, Dutch model, is worth some cultural restrictions, certainly as those haven't been that big.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 11:42:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweden and Norway have much larger rural areas. Generally speaking, such areas tend to be more puritanical, more religious, less industrialised and more traditional. If you stick to the big cities, I'm not sure it's so different - the Swedes have this thing about booze, but OTOH, they're the only place in the Union where you can buy chewing tobacco, so let's call that a draw :-P

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 12:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it apply anyway?

I was told, by a Dane, something like: "In Norway all is illegal, in Sweden all is immoral, and in Denmark all is permitted()". Is there any truth to it?

() "permitted" might have not been the word, but I think it captures the idea he was trying to transmit.

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 01:26:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Silly formatting, should have hit "Preview". Sorry.
by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 01:27:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kinda sorta but not quite.

Prejudice has it that Norway is more moralistic and Sweden is more regulated while Denmark is more licentious. But both Norway and Sweden are big places - something that's often forgotten because they only have between five and ten million citizens. Sweden is comparable in area to Poland, Germany, Spain or France, with accompanying cultural variation. In fact, the cultural variation may be even greater, because it spans a wider range of latitudes (and the farther towards the polar regions you get, the greater the difference in climate per degree of latitude).

Norway isn't quite as big, but it's just as long as Sweden, and the terrain is a lot less accessible when you get into the fjords north of around Bergen. So really, I think it's a bit like asking what the culture of Spain is...

Denmark is a lot smaller, a lot more homogeneus and a lot closer to the Central European traditions in a lot of ways.

But in general I think the differences are overemphasised - I have the distinct impression that we notice the differences all the more because most of the culture is so similar. When you come to Paris, you expect everything to be different, so it's surprising how similar it is to what you're used to. When you come to Stockholm, you expect things to be just about the same, so it's surprising when you have to go to Systembolaget for your beer.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 01:47:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course, I'm tempted to ask what Social Democratic party puritanism should run through in Denmark, as we don't seem to have any SocDem party at the moment...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 12:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see your point (having lived in NL for almost 3 years, I think I know your starting point). In dutch political compasses I always fared as a centre-leftist (whereas in Portugal or the UK I would be left/hard-left). In fact most of the anti-multiculturalism philosophy comes from my experience in .NL (a long, long discussion, maybe for another time).

But going back to the original issue: If you believe in some sort of less-unequal society (and by the way, one that respects some individual freedom) one would probably be more happy in, say .NL than in .UK or .PT.

By the way, "social controle" (in a generalized way) is something that I did not see in .NL. I really do think that most (urban) Dutch that I contacted with, where liberal of some sort.

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 11:49:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All young, cute Scandinavian women who find themselves without sufficient sexual activity,

MY PLACE!!  I've got the booze.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 11:50:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You forgot TALL !

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 04:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Some - particularly women, but not only - find this kind of comment offensive.

And at the very least, TWANK, ET doesn't need the men's locker-room atmosphere to be lively and interesting.

Moderate thyself in consequence?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 04:54:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What needs to be moderated is my sense of humor.  What a bunch of fuddy-duddies.


The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:16:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, we're fuddy-duddies and we think that's cool :-)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:33:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If your sense of humour is not shared by everyone, the thing to do is to keep it to those you share it with -- rather than insult those who already see yours as insulting rather than humorous.

[ET Moderation Technology™]

Next time I may take action on such comments.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Externalities?

I do find Twank's comments rather useless and sometimes distasteful. BUT...

Commenting more generally, I wonder if we are not putting ourselves in some kind of politically correct straight jacket. I sometimes think that these sort of rules condition our minds to automatically discard some paths, which, sometimes, take us to interesting conclusions. It is not the restraints that you are putting on him, but on yourself.

And I do agree with him in one thing: things are taken a bit too seriously and I wonder if that is not a sign of intolerance?

We all have topics that offend us. Even worse than offense they can cause personal distress. In my case (I am obsessive compulsive, and I obsess with cancer) discussing cancer might have stern personal consequences in my daily happiness.

While I am afraid Twank's signal to noise ratio is quite poor I wonder if his comments don't give some interesting touch to what is otherwise a "too serious" site.

by t-------------- on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 06:02:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we always let distasteful comemnts go without at least pointing out that they aren't really appropriate, then we risk letting ET slide into being like other blogs where people constantly use oppressive and abusive language.  

They seem like little things and unimportant but when it is never challenged it can often develop into the foundation for bigger things and a more pervasive culture that excludes people.  We aren't slamming any rules down or deleting anything but just asking to be a little more considerate about whether something else would suffice without causing offence.  It isn't intolerance and there isn't a need for this particular comment to become the focus of a great debate, but it is part of a wider thing that just needs a nudge about.

rg's comments invariably add an 'interesting' touch and can sometimes be fairly controversial but I can't think of any times when that has slipped into becoming offensive.

btw I can think of a blog that Helen pointed me at recently and in their intro they state that they moderate all comments and will not accept anything that is x,y,z.  And they get to decide whether a comment breaches their rules and they appear to lay these rules down arbitrarily depending on how they feel.  We make no attempt to do anything like that.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 06:43:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well:
For the case a user misbehaves consistently and grossly, including persistent grossly abusive, racist, sexist, etc. comments or diaries, but especially if s/he keeps getting troll-rated, frontpagers have an announced banning policy.

We also reserve he right kill content likely to be deemed criminal or damaging. And spam.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 06:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think what causes offense is in the mind of the offendee.  I may be offending people with my every last post--even the sight of my user id may offend some, but they maybe hold back from saying "I am offended by his very initials!" because there is an invisible and fuzzy (hat tip to Lily for that word!) line with offensive on one side and inoffensive on the other, and "oooer, I'm not sure about that one...what does everyone else think?" somewhere in the middle.

A site that seeks to offend no one--is itself offensive to some--heh!

I'd say a general rule might be that if you are offended, you can by all means say so--and the offender can (hopefully) take note.  I'd be very wary, though, of being offended on behalf of others.  ("Well, I'm not offended--but others might be!")

Now you have reminded me of a true story:

A house party has been organised, the guests are arriving, people milling around, maybe the ice is waiting to be broken.  A woman comes in and says, "I've just heard the most amazing story, I have to tell you all, though it's not for the easily offended."

A man sitting on the sofa says,

"Well, I'm easily offended!"

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:32:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
things are taken a bit too seriously and I wonder if that is not a sign of intolerance?

So we let such things go, and then get complaints about an unfriendly atmosphere to women. That's fact, not conjecture.

Just as there are complaints that (recently, re the Open Threads) there's too much messing about and triviality, and not enough serious discussion.

<sigh>

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 06:56:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really, there are hook-up services for this... ET aint' one.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, right.

I'm trying to "hook-up" here in California with women in Scandinavia.  How does that actually work?

What's that old saying?  Chill out, people.  Stop taking it all soooo seriously.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is just unnecessary to make comments like that.  You can be funny without being offensive.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:24:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it's you who should take other people's sensibilities more seriously.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm-mmm-mmm, I'm not sure how much credence I would lend to this sample of opinions. There's also this:

Norwegische Studie: Frauen wollen Sex, Männer wollen kuscheln - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Wissenschaft Norwegian Study: Women want sex, men want to cuddle - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - Science
...84 Prozent der jungen Norwegerinnen sind mit ihrem Sexualleben zufrieden oder sehr zufrieden. Derart wohl fühlten sich nur drei Viertel der Männer, die außerdem mehr auf Streicheln, Kuscheln und Küssen eingestellt seien.... 84 percent of young Norwegians are satisfied or very satisfied with their sex life. Only three-quarters of men feel that good, who are also more into stroking, cuddling and kissing.
Wie die Tageszeitung "Aftenposten" berichtet, stuften junge Frauen den Sex im Vergleich zu den befragten Männern wesentlich häufiger als "sehr wichtig" ein. Diese "Vormachtstellung" der Frauen sei überraschend und vollständig neu, sagte der für die Untersuchung verantwortliche Soziologieprofessor Willy Pedersen.As the daily newspaper "Aftenposten" reports, young women rated sex as "very important" much more often compared to the surveyed men. This "ascendancy" of women is surprising and wholly new, said Willy Pedersen, the sociology professor responsible for the investigation.
...Als wahrscheinlichen Grund nannte er die Fähigkeit von Frauen, "das vollständige Spektrum von Gefühlen und Aktivitäten auszukosten". Das könnten junge Männer so nicht. "Auf die Spitze getrieben kann man sagen, dass die Jungs in ihrem Zimmer onanieren, während die Mädchen in die Welt hinausziehen und ihre neue, befreite Sexualität ausleben."...As a probable reason he cited the ability of women "to savour the full spectrum of emotions and activities." The young men can't do that this way. "With a hyperbole, one could say that the boys are masturbating in their room, while the girls go out into the world, and live out their new, liberated sexuality."

...which may also explain this:

Why are men reporting more partners

Among men aged 18-49 years, the highest mean numbers of partners were from The Netherlands (20) and Finland (15) (Table 1). Then came France, Norway, Great Britain and Switzerland (12), and the lowest number was found in Spain (10). Women in The Netherlands, Finland and Norway were reporting 10 partners, Spanish and Swiss women 5 partners, and the lowest numbers, 4, stemmed from France and Great Britain.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:03:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've considered that it's perhaps my external perspective. When I see a Dutch social democrat utter some prudish comments, I think "well that's just old xyz talking silly again". When I see, say, Margot Wallström saying something similar, it makes me assume things about public discourse and mores in Sweden.

On the other hand, I see no real contradiction in restricting the presence of skin in the public sphere (through campaigns against the objectification of women and for the elimination of gender stereotypes from advertising), criminalising the purchase prostitution and ill-advised campaigns against alcohol use among youth on the one side and having a basically liberal climate on what people do in their bedrooms on the other side.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 06:05:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Sweden is not Norway, but there was also this. Even for Sweden, advertising is one thing, being topless on the beach another -- the latter practice was AFAIK pioneered on the Mediterranean by Swedish tourists in the sixties.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 06:17:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia: Fuck for Forest
Fuck for forest, or FFF, is an environmental organisation founded in Norway by Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen, which raises money for rescuing the world's rainforests by producing pornographic material or having sex in public. In their first six months of existence the group received seed funding from the government of Norway.

The group gained notoriety when two of its members had intercourse on stage during a Quart Festival concert featuring Norwegian singer Kristopher Schau and his band, The Cumshots, after delivering a brief talk on the impact humans have on natural forests. Fleeing from the legal troubles that stemmed from the act (including a fine imposed on the group after its male member dropped his pants in a Kristiansand, Norway courtroom) the organisation moved its headquarters to Berlin, Germany.


The author must have had tremendous fun writing about Norwegian seed funding.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:08:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the sixties aren't now, and Scandinavia is more prudish than it used to be, from what I hear.

Fortunately, it's so far just about what goes on in the public sphere. There's reasonably general acceptance of the principle that what goes on privately between consenting adults isn't anybody else's business.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:43:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
nanne:
On the other hand, I see no real contradiction in restricting the presence of skin in the public sphere (through campaigns against the objectification of women and for the elimination of gender stereotypes from advertising)

The legislation here is focused on the use of others skin for commercial gain. An illuminating point is that in the 90'ies a computer company focused on laptops had ads with a woman with lots of cleavage and a laptop. The ads where reported to the ethical marketing board, but where freed on the basis of the woman actually being the owner of the company.

At the same time as tougher rules on gender stereotypes in ads is proposed - and as a part of the same general feminist movement - we also have stuff like this:

Topfreedom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A protest movement called "Bara Bröst" appeared in Sweden in September 2007 to promote women's right to be topless in places where men could also be topless. Several events were staged in public swimbaths in September and October.[8] While toplessness is not illegal, several private or public establishments in Sweden have a dress code which demand that everyone wear tops: topless individuals can be denied access or thrown out.

I think they won the discrimination suits they filed after being denied access to some of the public swimbaths.

Public nudity for personal purposes is more accepted then for commercial purposes, though I agree with Jake that on that note society has moved in a more puritanical direction since the 60ies. But since nudity in summer for sauna and bath is traditional it is the cities that are more prude, and the countryside that is more nude.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Dec 5th, 2008 at 06:21:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, I forgot that Sweden has a sauna culture, which of necessity involves people getting nude in at least semi-public settings (and mixed sex saunas didn't use to be that unusual from what I hear - after all, heating two rooms is more trouble than heating one). Denmark doesn't do saunas much unfortunately.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 5th, 2008 at 06:57:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Self-reliance.

That's a virtue, taken to the extent that US culture often takes it?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:51:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was put there as a bait, in order for someone to bite ;) .

I think the biggest mistake that the left made was putting a lot of emphasis on the state and on centralized power per se (I would trace this to battle between communists and anarchists - the good side lost).

The idea of "helping the poor", while important (I am not ranting against the welfare state) should be second to "(self)empowering the poor". And here I am thinking in the good old anarcho-sindicalist approach of self-learning, community centres, community empowerment, community solidarity.

Self-reliance in the sense that we need people that can think for themselves and be proactive, not just consumer/slaves, but also producers/artisans.

Self-reliance in the small-scale communal sense. Where people know their neighbor, share their part of their fate and help.

Some might say that the Internet brings back some of this. I would be inclined to agree.

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:12:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some might say that the Internet brings back some of this. I would be inclined to agree.

Except that the poor don't get access to the Internet.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:14:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am thinking in the poor in Europe. And they have access to the Internet, mostly.

I all places that I know of, there are public libraries with capacity for public access. If you are in cities, you most probably have a library.

But the point is not about resources but willingness. Willingness to take charge of your life and self-improve.

Maybe, some top-down strategies have reinforced low self-esteem and low pro-activity. This in the sense that you are feed, sheltered and dressed by the state: It feels better if you are able, by yourself, to provide.

Disclaimer: This is not a argument against the welfare state (which should be there and is too small for current needs).

But "self-reliance" is an idea that was abandoned by progressives, hijacked by the right. But it is a good idea: You will only fight for your rights if you believe that they are really your rights and you believe you are strong enough to fight for them.

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 11:58:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree. Education is very much a cornerstone of any progressive agenda - and that, if anything, is about empowering people. Similarly, turning the welfare system from one based on charity to one based on rights was originally an empowerment - you didn't have to beg for unemployment benefits; they were your right as an honest citizen.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 12:28:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is misunderstanding not disagreement.

I am not ranting against the welfare state (you should not have to beg for unemployment benefit, better yet minimum assured income for all). The same about formal education (although I would discuss that it alone is enough as empowerment).

I am just saying that there is another side that was forgotten: (self)strengthening of self-assurance and self-reliance of people (and communities!) less well-off. It is more a process where people (partially by their own) get to trust their own abilities and capacities.

That is a bottom-up approach (notice that it doesn't involve any charity from private parties) and very different from a top-down approach where the state takes care of your welfare. Both are possible and not contradictory. One based only on state help is, in my view, condescending and diminishing to people that got unlucky at some point in time.

Political change through strong, informed, active participation of the majority. I am just claiming that there was too much energy spent on "taking power", where some should have been on cultivating grassroots.

Peer-to-peer is a step in the good direction.

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 01:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I quite agree, I just wanted to point out that there used to be a strong strain of empowerment. I don't quite know where it went - but maybe rights are only empowering when they're not taken for granted?

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 01:50:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may not realise that this was just the rhetoric of the third-wayists, especially Bliar & Brown in the UK, Schröder in Germany, and Persson in Sweden.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 04:19:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and? Just because arguments are hijacked by less interesting people doesn't make them better or worse. Its a bit like saying that socialism is bad because some very bad people decided to use the term "national socialism".

My mistake was to put this argument in the context of American self-reliance (stupid framing of my part). I just saw it as a bait to bring the subject up.

Strong individuals (which have the right to get state help in time of distress but do not have the psychological traits of beggars - especially because they have enough self-esteem). A culture of self-learning, self-improvement, self-belief.

Strong local communities also. Atomization is probably one of the biggest causes fat cats can get away so easily (as they are organized, and have lobbies).

Self-reliance not only on an individual level but also at a community level.

This is not incompatible with a strong welfare state. In fact our individualist culture produced individuals that are completely dependent on a fictional society. What was promoted was promoted by new "labour" types, was above all, egoism.

by t-------------- on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:45:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and?

I guess I want to see you define how your programme and framing differ from those of Third Wayists on the European Center-Left, not just from those of American liberals and conservatives.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:51:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Self-reliance not only on an individual level but also at a community level. ...This is not incompatible with a strong welfare state.

These relationships are what should be fleshed out, to make it different and leftist.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have this vivid image in my mind... Let me tell a short story.

Maybe 10 years ago a shoe factory bankrupted somewhere in north Portugal (cheaper Chinese products were starting to arrive). The thing got on public TV, and they were interviewing people.
One of the women working there was desperate. What struck me the most was the attitude. She was begging for some entrepreneur to go there and "take care of them". The response was not either to take the issue in their own hands (and maybe become self-employed - "The American Way"(TM)) or demand the right to state support (which, by the way, she had and for at least two years - at an approximate income level of her salary). No, the way out, in her head was to beg for new masters (and note, they were making a ridiculous low salary with bad working conditions).
Next to her was the union leader (which I happen to know), a hard-line trotskyist. We was quite comfortable with that attitude.
That woman, might have a job today, but doesn't even know her rights and has the aspirations of being a slave. This is an attitude that I see on people around (starting in my own family), but that TV shot, by being so vivid, so desperate and so clear, stuck.

I contrast this with some very old anarcho-sindicalists that I know: born into poverty, minimal education. But they educated themselves, mostly in union created community centres with small libraries and such.

by t-------------- on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:02:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The solution is Venture Communism Comrade tiagantao.

The only thing missing IMHO has been a non-toxic legal and financial structure to implement what are essentially Cooperatives of service providers in partnership with Cooperatives of service users.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:49:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know someone who runs a couple of businesses now. She's a doctors daughter, and did time in public school where she says she was told in no uncertain terms that she was part of the next generation of political and business leaders.

It's hard if you don't grow up with that mindset to understand how pervasive it is, how confidently you can walk into a bank or an office and feel that you have what it takes to work hard and take charge of things.

I have another friend who grew up in a huge mansion, and it's the same for him - he's very socially self-assured at board level, very comfortable hiring and firing people, and almost supernaturally aware of his own position in the pecking order and the relative positions of the people around him. He's not a bad person, but his education has left its mark.

If your education is working class, you don't get any of that kind of support or reinforcement. Yes, you can become self-employed - probably in a trade - but if you're of average intelligence and don't have any experience of banking, loans, taxes, employment law, and so on, setting yourself up with a small business is incredibly daunting. Turning a small business into a big business is even harder.

I don't have an answer to this. But I don't think it's just about getting the facts out and telling people that they have options.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:48:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting corollary to this is the argumentation of Emmanuel Todt (see marco's After Democracy diary). He says that the empowerment, self-reliance created by the expansion of higher education (which, as JakeS says, was very much center-left policy) also reduced people's sense of community, of shared (esp. class) destiny, and thus even society itself.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 04:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's partly true. I think geography had an influence too - if you live with people and work with people, it's hard not to feel like you're all in something together.

But I'd distinguish between community and class consciousness. I think the Progressive idea of community is largely wishful thinking - I don't think 'good' communities ever actually existed.

Most real communities would have been harsh places, and some people will have paid a high price for the economic solidarity they offered.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:52:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Occasional access in a library does not count as Internet access except in a deprived way. You can't go to the library while the kid has a nap. You can't go to the library when you get in from work, because you don't have time.

But the point is not about resources but willingness. Willingness to take charge of your life and self-improve.

I think you've been hijacked by the right.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 04:06:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Occasional access in a library does not count as Internet access"

The problem is the high rate of television ownership. Where does the decision come from to purchase a TV instead of a computer?

by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:36:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The cost isn't all that comparable...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:37:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both computers and TVs are available on the used market for $100 or so. Decent TVs and decent computers both cost about $500. The monthly connection fees are also similar.

One would have to look at the statistics, I suppose...

by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:43:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you pay for cable.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:55:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, in the UK, for a TV licence. Or if you pay for a satellite dish with a decoder, or...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:57:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
set top boxes (STPs) in England were equipped by cable competitors (to BT) with CPU (20-pin, multiplex channeling) nearly 10 years ago. As was "triple play" (V/D/I) marketing to undercut incumbents' price and market share.

dti.uk was on about compliance with the EU mandate to migrate analog to digital since 1998, captured market, tax + VAT or no tax. (have you noticed, that and the HH council poll tax are subjects Britons are loathe to challenge.)

Here, coleman's ignorance of planned obsolescence of band (FM/AM/BB/WiFi) auctioned concessions demonstrates one thing: parliamentarian resistance in Ireland to not-free market communication.

Booyah.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 01:53:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A new cathodic-tube TV is available for around €150... Also, a TV entertains the whole family, unlike a computer. Especially, TV is often used as a nanny for small kids, something computers aren't so good at.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:58:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean you can't play DVDs on a computer?

Also, are we endorsing the use of a TV as a nanny, now?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:59:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly no endorsement here - only attempting to find the reason why much more people would have TVs that computers. (And watching DVDs is not cheap, either). Although I'd bet the real reasons have more to do with being used to computers, generationally and socially.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:08:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the distinction is pretty blurry. TV's in my neighborhood tend to be gigantic flat screen systems, and most people have satellite connections, not cable. Computers tend to have much smaller screens, so it's harder to watch movies with more than one person. On the other hand, you can waste days watching youtube videos.

Not to belabour the point, but I think that the argument that Internet access is limited by cost is fairly soft.

Perhaps the technical knowledge issue is more important. One can construct an excellent high-performance workstation from parts obtained by end-of-term dumpster diving at Colorado College. However, the rich college kids take their TVs back home with them...

by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:05:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the argument that Internet access is limited by cost is non-existent. The satellite and cable networks in the UK couldn't survive without their working class base. Considering you can get basic broadband for a tenner a month, the extra cost is trivial.

It would be almost unheard of for all but the absolute poorest families not to have at least one PC now. It's practically a school requirement.

I was talking to a friend who does front-line adult ed in some of the rougher part of London earlier in the week, and she was saying that many of her pupils have surprisingly solid basic IT skills.

What they don't have is the ability to write and spell well enough to get a job that lets them use them.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 01:01:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We actually got a visit from a social worker when our kids were in elementary school, because word got out that we didn't have a TV. Apparently that's a marker for "has no funds whatsoever."
by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 01:54:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can get a 'puter for € 200 or thereabouts [1]. Internet access runs for anywhere between € 15 and € 30 a month.

It's not a good computer, or a computer that I'd buy, but it'll let you got on ET or YouTube without a hitch.

OTOH, design life might be a problem. Because most people replace their computers every few years, they seem to have a design life of only about five years, whereas a TV's design life can easily be ten years - heck, fifteen if you're lucky.

I've never actually owned a TV, so I don't know what a cheap TV costs.

- Jake

[1] For the tower - give it another hundred for screen, keyboard and mouse. Unless you can inherit those - they usually last longer than the box they come with (my own screen and keyboard are on their third or fourth tower).

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:05:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
most people replace their computers every few years

um, no. this is fallacy brought from yon by stale corporate HW/software investment stats. turnover/upgrade has been in decline since the dot com crash -- explaining in part, for example, the conspicuous IBM exit from PC (enter Lonovo) by 2005 that complemented its lucrative syst-integration rent biz, H-P and Dell cycles of revenue shocks.

the "early adopter" segment of semiconductor/GUI market is small but very vocal: consider how often and how many column inches MSM gives "analysts." blogging environments are actually fine proxy for purchase incentives and planned obsolescence promulgated by such users... in turn explaining why commentors here have trouble imagining (1) working poor have no time for IP; (2) children of the poor are not barriers to public PC access, when extended family are primarily childcare providers, in any case, to Ideal™ parent custody.

nonetheless, like that of the passenger vehicle, the life-cycle of the desktop PC and other durables in consumer households exceeds allowed depreciation schedules by a factor of 3, easily. however, one could attribute moore's law in semi, expansive consumer credit, and kewl cross-platform entertainment/ISP functionalities (e.g. PSP, Nintendo ?!, "3G" mobile/cell) to erosion of PC replacement market. yeah, actually more people worldwide own mobile/cell than either tv or PC.

Check out this public monitor on penetration by device by region (dig): internetworldstats.com ... Asia's density has been ahead of ROW for sometime ...

OMG, mapnet is back up!!!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 01:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What? TVs and computers are, for most people, not even substitute goods.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. So if you can afford a TV, why can't you afford the Internet?
by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:40:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, first, a TV is a one-off, smaller, expense.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From where asdf sits, buying a TV means buying cable TV service for a monthly fee, not unlike internet.

The number of people who buy a TV just to watch DVDs is small indeed and broadcast TV if being phased out in favour of cable subscriptions where it still exists, even in Western Europe.

In the UK watching broadcast TV requires a TV licence with periodic payments, too...


Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:54:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also it's easy to get free Internet access--at least in the urban U.S. Wireless is everywhere, either legit in coffee shops or pirated from your neighbor.
by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:00:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe. I bet we are the only family on our not-particularly-prosperous block that does not have either cable or satellite television. And in a few weeks even the little TV we do have will become useless due to the great digital changeover...
by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:56:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But "self-reliance" is an idea that was abandoned by progressives, hijacked by the right.

No it wasn't. It is true that the bottom-up elements of socialism have been neglected by social democrats, socialists and especially post-Soviet communists and 'communists'. But it was pretty apparent in the "autonomous" movements emerging in the sixties, and there is a strong emphasis on it among Greens, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 04:17:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I recently heard a talk by a guy from the Green EP group. One of his points was precisely that Scandinavia has a strong position because we have a red-green left, rather than a left that's divided into the reds (who'll do silly things like support the coal mining because it has a lot of well-paid jobs) and the greens (who'll do silly things like shutting down the coal mines without providing alternative jobs for the miners, because social issues aren't on their radar).

Which is also true for the whole empowerment thing: The Danish left very much does individual empowerment, within a framework of collective empowerment. There usually isn't any contradiction at the level of policy, even if some might argue that there is at the level of principle (I happen to disagree, but the case can be made).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:53:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My only beef with Scandinavian Green-Left is the more or less blanket rejection of the EU.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 10:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That doesn't apply any more, and hasn't for some years.

There are nuances of course, and there's still a decidedly Euroskeptic wing. But first, the EU has evolved so that it is more and more a genuine federal construct rather than a GATT-lite free fraud zone. Second, the Scandinavian red-green left has realised this fact (although they were a bit slow on the uptake). And third, these days the EU sometimes, and on some issues, has a more progressive policy than Denmark.

The importance of this last point should not be underestimated: There used to be an entirely valid critique of the EU on the grounds that it insisted on dragging environmental standards, workplace regulation, labour market policy and provision of government services down to German levels in the name of standardisation and free trade. These days, it's dragging our environmental standards, at least, up to German levels in the name of standardisation and free trade, and pulling more or less even on the general provision of government services (although the EU's Conventional Wisdom on labour market regulation continues to abhor me).

Partly, this is about the EU getting better, but frankly a lot of it is about Denmark regressing. You might call it a pretty standard case of rediscovery of the value of checks and balances that every political faction makes when they're out of power for an extended period of time :-P

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good to hear! But. Is this true for the EU-member Swedish and extra-EU Norwegian sisters, too? (On the latter, I'd hope Solveig or Trond Ove catches on to this thread.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:18:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the impression I get from the members of the Green EP group, but I don't actually know it for a fact - and of course, they only meet the ones that aren't die-hard Euroskeptics...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:38:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Partly, but our right has not moved the Owerton window nearly as much as their danish counterparts. EU is still worse then Sweden on labor laws, chemicals, and - as perceptions go - food security. There was widespread support for a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, but our leaders did not dare go down that road. The greens and the left party wanted a referendum.

One of the big debates during this fall has been the debate over the swedish implementation of IPRED, in particular clauses on giving the copyright industries legislative support for running blackmail scams. The standard argument as to why this was proposed was for a long time the governments cry: EU makes us do it!

The case of Promusicae vs Telefónica has gained quite some reputation and that argument was smashed, though I suspect it will linger. In particular as everything points to the bill being passed before christmas despite pretty overwhelming negative public opinions. The Greens and the Left party (think Linke) are on the side of information freedom here, though the issues are mainly pushed by the Pirate party. The Soc Dems tend to land on that side to, but that is mainly because they are in opposition, they supported the directive when they were in power.

In general, EUs public image is taking a beating here, and the green-red are those that stand mainly to gain in polls from it. To counter this and increasing support for the ugly party (mainly protestvotes agianst the establishment) the largest ruling party - Moderaterna - is going to run on a nationalistic platform in the EP elections.

So I expect the Greens and left to continue on a EU sceptic course, as the votes are there. Though the Greens do - after internal referendum - no longer propose Sweden leaving the EU.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Dec 5th, 2008 at 06:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been instructed by my client solveig to respond on her behalf.....;-)

JakeS:

That doesn't apply any more, and hasn't for some years.

That may be true in Denmark, and is probably, as you later imply, because of the rightward progress of the Danes' recent descent through Night and Fogh.

But my client informs me in no uncertain terms that Norwegians are in fact becoming increasingly pissed off with:

(a) EU financial demands in respect of EEA fees payable - the Lion's share being Norway's.

(b) perceived EU intrusions into areas Norwegians hold sacrosanct, in particular, property rights and the relationship between public and private sectors.

Only today we see Norway's (very left wing and feisty, but constrained by her office) finance minister in Brussels telling the Commission where to get off in relation to Norway's superior (more than double, at current exchange rates) level of guarantees for bank deposits.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:34:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please tell your client that my client, proudly, says "Keep up the good work!"  Hugs.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Mon Dec 8th, 2008 at 04:47:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tiagoantao:
Some might say that the Internet brings back some of this. I would be inclined to agree.

i'd say the internet reveals how common this need is, and proposes a new, globalised community building, ala facebook, Kos, ET.

we have taken one step back, a big one, socially speaking , and two steps forward with technology.

many have whiplash...

as yet so much remains virtual, and small potatoes sociopolitically. as tool for social transformation it has barely revealed its promise, i'm with sven on this, there are all sorts of activism only possible with the new tech, the necessary hiving is not there yet.

me and a friend were fantasising today how if a world sit-down strike were planned, a type of moral blackmail (whitemail?) till all guns were lowered.

we have much more power than we think we have or to use, but the requisite levels of disgust at the present global mismanagement are still rising.

i still dream of a bloodless (R)evolution, not only because i'm squeamish, but because anything else will create further shit down the line to suffer.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 03:40:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Day-to-day relationships are much more democratic (I remember Chomsky saying that the US is the country where the mailman and the professor address themselves in the same way). For instance in my country, you can see, on how people are addressed their relative social position (use of academic titles - especially when addressing hierarchical superiors, and more formal declinations in sentences).

It's different within Europe, too. Recently, a guy from Francophone Switzerland in my trade who frequently visits a factory in Hungary said that he observed that there, if a higher-ranked talks, the lower-ranked just listen. At his factory, workers and engineers and managers just sit down to talk about whatever problem is at hand.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:10:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Premise:  Individual European countries kiss the US's ass instead of genuinely banding together for your own good.

Reason: US is still the super-power.

Question: Why does the US pay attention to Europe at all?  Cultural ties?  

Why would a change in "location of super-powerdom" change Europe's "position" as a focus of interest?  

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:04:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, there are many answers, ranging from inertia to cultural affinity over existing infrastructures.

Somewhat to the point is that the larger European countries are still quite powerful compared to China and India in terms of force projection and that the EU market is much larger than the south and east Asian market (in nominal terms nearly twice as big as India, China and Japan combined).

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:50:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I'm with Migeru on this one: it'll take a generation of politicians that didn't grow up depending on Uncle Sam to protect them from the Big Bad Bear to take power before the instinctive assumption that US interests == European interests wears off.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 09:52:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the sounds of things the Big Bad Bear is just a bunch of thugs with a lot of oil revenue.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:02:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except for the oil revenue, that makes it almost exactly like the US.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:22:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing as post-communists can be as much Atlanticist as any old Cold Warrior, and seeing the symplistic mythology people even younger than me have absorbed as recent history, I am even more pessimistic. It should take people who fight for some new vision who can break the unrealised pre-assumptions of common wisdom.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 04:10:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why does the US pay attention to Europe at all?

It does? That's news to me. Aside, of course, from the minimal fealty that a sovereign is due his vassals, I see very little engagement that goes beyond Sternly Worded Letters and photo-ops.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 10:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Americablog is one of the more progressive web logs in the United States

Americablog has become an establishment blog and as such, it grows to be more centrist, on the American political spectrum. There are other more left-leaning, progressive blogs out there.

In the United States today, there is predominantly only one party — the Democratic Party. It combined with vestiges of the Republican Party control American politics. The Republican Party is to the right of the Democratic Party, but presently there are no viable parties to the left of the Democrats. Thus with exiles from the Republican Party joining forces with the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party is drawn further to the right.

The establishment Democratic blogs represent this shift. The Daily Kos, for example, is the sole property of a former Republican and one-time Reagan supporter. It isn't a liberal, or progressive blog, it is a Democratic blog and thus predominantly centrist in editorial focus. Their purpose:

This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog. One that recognizes that Democrats run from left to right on the ideological spectrum, and yet we're all still in this fight together. We happily embrace centrists like NDN's Simon Rosenberg and Howard Dean, conservatives like Martin Frost and Brad Carson, and liberals like John Kerry and Barack Obama. Liberal? Yeah, we're around here and we're proud. But it's not a liberal blog. It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory. And since we haven't gotten any of that from the current crew, we're one more thing: a reform blog. The battle for the party is not an ideological battle. It's one between establishment and anti-establishment factions. And as I've said a million times, the status quo is untenable.

Yeah, they consider John Kerry and Barack Obama as liberals. Personally, I think both men are centrists. So, while the Daily Kos editors co-opt  the progressive moniker, I believe this is mostly to differentiate their views from more the more establishment Democrats. However, they have become establishment themselves. They won the ideological battle and are less likely to be about reform rather than protecting their base of power.

I reject your assessment that these two blogs are "progressive", they are centrist and as you note, centrist in the United States is right-leaning in Europe.

What the establishment blogs certainly are not, are voices from the left. Certain editors, such as Meteor Blades, write from the left, but the main editorial voice of the blog is from the center and now the establishment.

by Magnifico on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 01:05:22 PM EST
Most of these blogs serve more as middle-of-the-road journalistic services than as leftist organizers. Unfortunately, the word "progressive" does fit them, because it's a relative term, even though we (in the U.S.) like to view it as implying a left-wing perspective. In other words, compared to the status quo that Kos criticizes, these blogs are definitely progressive.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 02:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I reject your assessment that these two blogs are "progressive", they are centrist and as you note, centrist in the United States is right-leaning in Europe."

Would that imply that Obama too (or Kerry) would look more like centre-right in Europe? They are/were quite popular in Europe, though, which would place european politics a bit more towards the right than usually acknowledged.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot frança) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 04:16:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European politics is a lot farther to the right than is usually acknowledged.

But even so, I believe that the popularity of Kerry and Obama (and Clinton, for that matter) was and is more grounded in

  1. The fact that the competition is so scary. Compared to a fundagelical creep like Sarah Palin (or Bush the Lesser), even Vlad the Impaler of Transylvania would have a fighting chance in a popularity contest in most of Europe.

  2. The fact that most of the European newsies covering American issues plagiarise US Conventional Wisdom wholesale. So if the US press' Conventional Wisdom puts Obama to the left and says that he's going to push for radically more multilateralism in the US' strategic stance, this is greeted with approbation in Europe - because the newsies forget (or "forget," if you will) to provide the context that the baseline from which such improvements start is dismal at best.

It's kinda like the way much of Western Europe loved Gorbachev. It's not like they'd elect anybody with Gorby's platform for their own parliament, but looking at the kind of "leadership" the Big Neighbour to the East usually produced, it seemed like Gorby could walk on water by comparison.

And, of course, one shouldn't forget the beaten wife syndrome part of it: Many Europeans seem to genuinely wish to believe that European and US interests were overlapping to an extent that they manifestly are not in the real world. So when Bush made a point of explicitly telling his European vassals to fall in line or fuck off, it deeply upset many people, who are now ecstatic at what they view as an apology for - or at least a renunciation of - the Bush years, because it means that they can go back to loving the Big Neighbour to the West.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 04:39:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European politics is a lot farther to the right than is usually acknowledged.

Well, certainly France and Italy at least have a far-far-right government at the moment. And the UK is likely to change its rightist governent for an extreme right one at the next election too.

As ever Europe catches the US diseases some 10 years late.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 05:23:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't aware that Sarko was comparable to Silvio Corruptioni. Are you really serious about that, or is it hyperbole?

Sarko always came across to me as "mostly harmless" [with apologies to Douglas Adams]; a self-absorbed little twit whose handlers substantially just continued Chirac's policies.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 07:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, he's quite comparable -except for being bathing to the neck in mafia links, but I have no doubt that had the mafia been quite as strong in France as in Italy there would be no difference on that either.

He is ANYTHING but harmless. He is in fact extremely dangerous. He has done a lot to fight back the rule of law -the constitution is a joke under Sarko (as was its revision -obtained through buying MRG and threatening UMP representatives. In a secret ballot it would have been thrashed). He is a regular user of the judicial system as a political weapon (bear in mind that he cannot be attacked, not now, nor for anything he would do while somebody else is not president). The French public media is about to be turned into a fully fledged propaganda -not only will the president directly appoint -and revoke at will- its director, but the Government will pretty much decide what's in the programs.
On top of that, there have been many cases of intimidation of the press -not just intimidation in fact, but ensuring that journalists got fired.

A climate of hatred is being nurtured.

From the very first days after the election, it was made clear that corruption would be welcomed with both arms, as Sarko was keen to accept huge gifts from very wealthy people who greatly depended on French State contracts.

France has managed in about two weeks to lose any credibility in Europe (back in May 2007), to the point that now even when France may be pushing for something positive, it tends to be a non-starter.

We now have -oh joy- extra troops in Afghanistan.

He has mismanaged the public deficit to colossal proportions. A huge margin for action was just burnt in a gift to people who did not need it -and something that seemed to reduce employment in the medium term, even discounting the effect of the crisis. On the other hand, civil servants just need to take a pay cut because, you see, "we are a broke state" (and here I quote the statutory but completely powerless prime minister).

Thankfully in a way, the crisis bit just soon enough, but you must remember that Sarko was actively pushing, in the summer of 2007 for France to emulate the US mortgage system.

Yes, it is a good job in a way that he is incompetent enough that he fails to carry through most of the terrible changes he promoted. But he will have done huge, lasting harm.

Now, there was an incredible achievement though: he managed to make Jérôme regret Chirac. That is quite something.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 03:19:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 08:01:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, even being thought by many outside observers to be a mostly harmless twit is a similarity with B...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 03:36:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think anyone who has worked professionally in the US and in the EU would know that, qualitatively, this is not true.

The level of ideological extremism in the US, which you see in its Republican party, bleeding ever so casually into its Democratic one, does not occur in a vacuum and, if you work in finance for instance, you will hear things on a regular basis you wouldn't ever hear among polite company in Europe, certainly not from christian democrats.

Certainly there is a vocal minority of extremists, some of whom even have a bullhorn and a public forum; this being said, the extremism has achieved nowhere near the casual acceptance within certain social spheres, the critical mass in the public discourse, as it has in the US.

by redstar on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 06:56:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree...

Angela Merkel is to the left of Barack Obama. (Considering your other posts - and your irritation with the German govt approach to the crisis, see this as a tease. But you know that this is correct... Angela is really to the left of BHO)

My experience with many (surely not all) christian democrats in The Netherlands, especially older ones, was that they could be very lefty on economical issues (surely much to the left of mediterranean social democrats or american liberals). Could one even see "social" christian democracts in .DE and .NL as political alies? (in the economic side)

But be careful with christian democrats in the south of Europe, many of them were associated with Franco, Salazar, Mussolini. And show little regret...

by t-------------- on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 07:38:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But be careful with christian democrats in the south of Europe,

Not to mention the right-wing spectrum in Central and Southeastern Europe...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 03:37:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That sorta doesn't "ideologically" count in my view, as this is arguably a natural reaction to Soviet occupation.

Give them a generation.

Italy...they've have more than a few such generations to purge themselves of the bile, and yet they give us, over and over again, Burlesquoni. Which is, if you think about it, and after four recessions they've gotten themselves for their trouble in just the past decade or so, pretty fucking amazing, and makes you wonder how they made it into Schengen, the Eurozone and ultimately the EU itself.

by redstar on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:10:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this is arguably a natural reaction to Soviet occupation

I disagree. Yes, there is some of that. There is also (much more strongly) that many nasty things that existed before came back to the surface from under the lid of that occupation. But, there is also the effect of the societal damage wrought by the IMF-pushed 'reforms' post-1989. And there is also the failure to strongly push a better political culture, both on the part of domestic left-liberal intellectuals, and EU representatives during the long accession process (still on-going say in Croatia).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, democracy in Italy was pretty thoroughly sabotaged in the couple of decades immediately following the War. That was forty years ago, of course, so I don't know how much it counts for as excuses go.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 08:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed 100%.

It's even true to some extent in France, though to some extent stomped out somewhat effectively in the post-war period unlike in the other Latin countries.

Overton window discussions aside, Merkel is also pretty clearly to the left of Obama, Merkel is too, arguably the Tories in England are as well. Clearly Chirac was as well. Even Sarkozy the opportunist is not going to leave France in some crazed neo-liberal paradise the 30-year developed apparatus of which, in the US, Obama will likely not even make a dent...

by redstar on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:07:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Merkel is... Merkel is too

Whom did you mean at the second instance?

Even Sarkozy the opportunist is not going to leave France in some crazed neo-liberal paradise

I wonder though what would have happened had the financial crisis arrrived a few years later.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops...I was thinking of Brown.
by redstar on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 05:40:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Vlad the Impaler of Transylvania

Minor historical correection: he was -- especially at the time he practiced mass impalements -- Vlad III of Wallachia, not Transsylvania; Bram Stoker fucked up historical details there. (He wasn't a Count, either.) But he was born in Transsylvania, at the time his father Vlad II Dracul was on exile there; and he fled to Transsylvania when he was overthrown in Wallachia (but there he was soon arrested, and soon taken away to be imprisoned in a castle 30 km from where I type this).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 03:55:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, my bad. Now that you mention it, I think you've even corrected me on that before.

Of course, I could get out by claiming that I was talking about Bram Stoker's count :-P

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 08:15:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know...I don't really care for his blog, but I think kos has his heart and many times his head in the right place on a few very very important issues, especially healthcare and workers rights (free choice act), so one a few levels, there's real progress they're after, though it may be true that being more and more sucked into the "establishment," on a few subjects, like foreign policy, he's making compromises. A good lefty? No, but not bad.

As for Aravosis and his crew, outside of his advocating for human rights and occasional funniness of the site, I'm still trying to see the redeeming progressive quality.

by redstar on Wed Dec 3rd, 2008 at 06:47:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Despite these progressive views on some subjects, as Magnifico said, kos is a former Reagan voter and Republican, and a self-declared libertarian. His progress is not socialistic or even left-liberal.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 04:04:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, people do change. Kos is relatively young, young enough in fact that he couldn't have voted for Reagan (he was 13 in 1984, 1992 would have been his first Presidential election).

I think that it would be foolish for Kos to think that he's part of the establishment now and that Kos is no fool. So I think he'll come down on the left's side in pretty much all of the coming policy battles and that he'll work on a number of primary challenges in 2010 to get better Democrats.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 06:36:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, I don't know where I got this kos for Reagan thing -- maybe he voted for Bush, or supported Reagan. My bad. But his declaration of being a libertarian is much more recent.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 10:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The American Prospect: The Soldier in Me
I was also a Republican. As a 17-year-old precinct captain in 1988, not even old enough to vote, I helped deliver one of the district's best precinct performances for Henry Hyde. I had a framed picture of me with George H. W. Bush.

Of course, that was a different time, a different Republican Party. And I was a different kind of Republican -- always socially liberal, committed to fiscal sanity, and willing to pay more than lip service to the concept of national service. Talk was cheap. I was going to wear combat boots.

Cato Unbound: The Case for the Libertarian Democrat

It was my fealty to the notion of personal liberty that made me a Republican when I came of age in the 1980s. It is my continued fealty to personal liberty that makes me a Democrat today.

The case against the libertarian Republican is so easy to make that I almost feel compelled to stipulate it and move on. It is the case for the libertarian Democrat that has created much discussion and not a small amount of controversy when I first introduced the notion in what was, in reality, a throwaway blog post on Daily Kos on a slow news day in early June 2006.

But that post--as coarse, raw, and incomplete as it was--touched a surprising nerve. It generated the predictable criticism from libertarian circles (Reason and several Cato scholars piled on) as well as from conservatives who perhaps recognized their own slipping grasp of libertarian principles but were unwilling to cede any ground to a liberal. But more surprising (and unexpected) to me was the positive reaction: there's a whole swath of Americans who are uncomfortable with Republican/conservative efforts to erode our civil liberties while intruding into our bedrooms and churches; they don't like unaccountable corporations invading their privacy, holding undue control over their economic fortunes, and despoiling our natural surroundings; yet they also don't appreciate the nanny state, the over-regulation of small businesses, the knee-jerk distrust of the free market, or the meddlesome intrusions into mundane personal matters.


I agree with Kos on a lot of the stuff that he wrote in his initial The Libertarian Dem blog post, but he hasn't worked out the subtleties and difficulties of a positive definition of freedom with any kind of rigour.

But Kos has written reams of stuff, even about himself, and lately he has more often been getting his economic populist on. See e.g. the No Clue What They're Doing post.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:20:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are damned few US bloggers worth paying attention to, other than to keep track of what lunacy we're now up to.

As for Obama, his performance thus far has been about consolidating his legitimacy. The guy looks, sounds and acts presidential. But he's a centrist from whom I expect only one major policy initiative in his first term. I'm almost certain it will be a domestic policy such as health care reform, and if I had to bet, I'd say that health care would be the one.

Look for no major foreign policy initiatives out of an Obama administration. No leader will risk his/her entire agenda on some foreign policy that moves too far ahead of the electorate, and Americans as a whole are abysmally ignorant of what goes on overseas, or why that may be important. Wilson managed it, as did Franklin Roosevelt, and Obama could possibly stand as tall as either of those two, but in the US, the public foreign policy debate starts at such a low level, I expect little.

One caveat: there is a debate. People like Bacevitch, Brainard, Kissinger, Powers, and many more are publishing, and receiving limited readership. But they are not making the talk show rounds. If and when they do, we may see something, not before. Right now, I would expect US foreign policy to continue being centered on national security, as 9/11 is still the backstory of every US foreign policy discussion. The one foreign policy wonk I've seen speaking on TV news is Robert Kagan, and he's a leader of the foreign-policy-as-a-branch-of-the-Pentagon crowd. That's where Americans stand right now.

Obama is thus far a tweaker. A problem such as fixing a broken national security system is where he feels much more comfortable. This is how his inexperience manifests itself, and I must commend him on his prudence in this.

For now.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:24:29 AM EST
I fear that he is overcompensating for his youth and "lack of experience" by too heavily weighting his appointments with Clinton's leftovers. Hopefully he will not get steamrolled by them...
by asdf on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 11:39:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama has surprised me today. After getting home from work, I find that the Obama crew announced today that the president will give a major foreign policy address from an Islamic capitol!

For my part, I'm amazed and welcome this development, even while I wonder how this is going to play in Jerusalem. I'll have to check Israeli news for comment, but I recall vividly the Israeli UN ambassador (I think it was the Israeli ambassador) calling Jimmy Carter a racist for talking to Hamas.

Update: I'm now watching a report on BBC World, of the Israeli security forces forcibly removing hardline Jewish settlers, and reports of fighting among the settlers and their supporters after nightfall. A remarkable development, it's long past time Jewish moderates take a stand.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:39:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not entirely new. Removals of hardline settlers happened before, and not just during the permanent withdrawals from the Sinai, the area designated for Palestinian Autonomy and Gaza. The smaller withdrawals involved quite some cynism: they were removals of "illegal" settlements, e.g. ones not approved (after or before the fact) by the Israeli government -- and many of these were nothing but show, e.g. say some trailers carted on top of a hill.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 5th, 2008 at 06:10:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are damned few US bloggers worth paying attention to, other than to keep track of what lunacy we're now up to.

Permit me to promote Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars. He's a Libertarian civil liberties activist and autodidact legal scholar, but he doesn't unduly plug his economic policy preferences and he does a damn good job of cutting through the bullshit on the "culture wars" front.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 12:05:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here in Boston, we used to have a libertarian talk show  host name of David Brudnoy, who hosted lively, thoughtful discussions which were a pleasure to listen to.

Libertarians are a mixed bag though. In the last special election for the Massachusetts 5th Congressional District (which I live just over the border of), there was a candidate from the "Constitution Party," sort of a libertarian analog, who  ran on the platform that income taxes were unconstitutional.

Total nutjob.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Thu Dec 4th, 2008 at 07:55:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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