Mar 132013

Those of my fellow conservatives who think winning elections will fix things should read this article by Ivan Krastev, and ponder.

The nature of any political regime for self-correction is its major characteristic and it is the capacity of self-correction and public accountability that it is at the heart of any democratic advantage. There are now many in Kremlin who, on the contrary, think that excessive democratisation has been responsible for many of the problems that new country faces. Many envy ‘true’ Chinese authoritarianism. But the truth is that in many of its practices China is more democratic than Russia, and its decision-making is undoubtedly superior. Over the last two decades, when China was busy with capacity building, Russia seems to have been pre-occupied with incapacity hiding. When Western commentators try to make sense of the different performance of the new authoritarians, they would well advised to look beyond formal institutional design.

via Is China more democratic than Russia? | openDemocracy.

Jan 162013

These people in Vermont get a Leviathan Ankle-Biter award for trying to keep their local school local.

The group that led the privatization effort praises the school, which performs well on state achievement exams, but sees the move as a way to ward off a state push for consolidation that the group says could lead to a merger of the school.

via New Spur to Take Vermont School Private –

Dec 102012

Quiz question: When the referees own one of the teams, does it instill a) more or b) less confidence in their whistle blowing?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking into findings by Consumer Reports magazine that Ford Motor Co.’s F -0.09% Ford Fusion and C-Max wagon hybrids fall well short of their official gas-mileage ratings, an agency spokeswoman said on Monday.

via Ford Fusion, C-Max Mileage Claims Get EPA Scrutiny –

Dec 012012

I guess it depends on the WSJ headline writer’s definition of “offer”.

Obama’s Cliff Offer Spurned : GOP Criticizes Proposal for Tax, Spending Increases With Limited Entitlement Cuts

via GOP Rejects Cliff Offer From Obama –

For example:

  • Nov 29 2012: “Obama’s Cliff Offer Spurned”
  • Aug 31 1939: “Hitler’s Danzig/Corridor offer spurned by Poland.”
  • Dec 8 1941: “Japan’s Hawaii offer spurned by FDR”

And yes, I suppose in a manner of speaking Obama could be said to have offered limited entitlement cuts. He also offered limited tax and spending increases, but only in the sense that he didn’t explicitly use the word “infinite.”

Nov 242012

Luo Boagen and his wife are hereby inducted as members into the Honorable Order of Leviathan Ankle-Biters.  No, they didn’t take on Leviathan, at least not directly, but they have the spirit that it takes to do it.

Luo Baogen and his wife are the lone holdouts from a neighborhood that was demolished to make way for the main thoroughfare heading to a newly built railway station on the outskirts of the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province.

Dramatic images of Luo’s home have circulated widely online in China this week, becoming the latest symbol of resistance in the frequent standoffs between Chinese homeowners and local officials accused of offering too little compensation to vacate neighborhoods for major redevelopment projects.

via China builds road right around “nail house” as owner Luo Baogen refuses to sell – CBS News.

Nov 232012

The Surgeon-General is confused. Thanksgiving is a time for families to sit around and discuss what topics government should be sticking its nose into.  It’s not a time for government to tell families what to discuss.

Surgeon-General Regina Benjamin has declared Thanksgiving to be the nation’s ninth annual Family Health History Day: “An important step in prevention and wellnes is learning about health conditions in our families that may put us at increased risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, mental illness and many others,” Benjamin says. She wants us to track illnesses from one generation to the next so health care providers can predict what may befall each of us.

via Gov’t Tells Americans What to Discuss at Holiday Dinner; Declares Thanksgiving ‘Family Health History Day’ | CNS News.

Nov 222012

It has been a while since I last handed out one of these, but Andrea Hernandez is an especially deserving recipient .  The Rutherford Foundation helped, too.

Andrea Hernandez won’t have to leave her high school for refusing to wear a badge designed to track her every move there – yet – her attorneys announced today.

The school had reportedly offered to allow Hernandez to wear a non-functional badge, giving the appearance of support for the program, but she declined.

via Judge Grants Reprieve To Student Expelled For Refusing To Wear Tracking Device Badge | CNS News.

Nov 192012

This means embracing the sequester, which demands more than $1 trillion in reduced spending over the next decade. The sequester became law in 2011 to resolve the showdown over increasing the federal debt limit. But the sequester’s cuts to both defense and social programs were thought to be so unpalatable to both parties that the pols would be forced to find other ways to reduce the deficit before the cuts begin on January 1. Mr. Obama’s re-election may change the political calculus.

Right now Republicans say they oppose both defense cuts and tax hikes. But most members of the GOP caucus will likely accept a leaner Pentagon to spare further harm to a stagnant economy, and to begin to restrain deficit spending. Says Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, “The only thing worse than a defense cut is no cut at all.”

via Political Diary: Learning to Love the Sequester –

Nov 172012

Um, I think this goes beyond “authoritarian.”

At Western Michigan University, it is considered harassment to hold a “condescending sex-based attitude.”

Free speech is about protecting oddballs. It means protecting dissenters.”It even means letting Ann Coulter speak.

via The Weekend Interview with Greg Lukianoff: How Free Speech Died on Campus –

Nov 172012

Merkel stands up to Putin’s human rights violations while Obama provides them aid and comfort .

Rising public disgust with Russia’s drift toward reactionary and incompetent authoritarianism, combined with business revulsion at the wholesale corruption consuming what is left of the Russian economy, have reduced the attractiveness of the “Russia pole” for German foreign policy. Today we see something no one could have imagined even a decade ago: the chancellor of Germany is using tougher language with Russia than is the president of the United States.

via The Complicated Geopolitics of Decline: Germany & Russia Edition | Via Meadia.