Poor People Are People Too

This, from Alex Tabarrok, is just too good for me not to excerpt:

I consider three moral communities and the case for trade.
Peter wishes to trade with Jose. The individualist says the relevant moral community is Peter and Jose and presumptively no one else. Trade, the right of association, is a human right and on issues of rights the moral community is the individual. When Jose offers Peter a better deal than Joe it’s wrong – a moral outrage – for Joe to prevent Jose at gun point from trading with Peter.
The more common view expressed implicitly by Dani Rodrik, but by many others as well, is the nationalist view, the moral community is Peter and Joe. Joe gets a vote on Peter’s trades. Peter should be allowed to trade only if both Peter and Joe benefit, otherwise too bad. Jose counts for less.
A third view, that of the liberal internationalist, says that Peter, Jose and Joe count equally and are together the moral community.

Guess which view I take? Hint: it’s the only one that’s vaguely coherent.

Ignorance Becomes Him

Do you ever think, when a politician commits a huge gaffe, “wow, it must suck to be supporting that guy”? Because I’m feeling for Bill Richardson’s supporters right now:

Having blundered last week by saying Whizzer White would be his model chief justice, a reporter asks [Richardson] how he can reconcile that with his strong pro-choice position when White wrote the dissent in Roe v. Wade. Richardson says, “White was in the 60s. Wasn’t Roe v. Wade in the 80s?”

For the record: Byron White served from 1962 to 1993, when he was replaced by Ginsberg. Roe was decided in 1973, and White was part of the two justice minority in the case. As Garance says,

Not knowing when one of the most controversial court cases in the past half century was decided and who wrote the opinions in it is the domestic policy equivalent of a presidential candidate not being able to name the president of Pakistan or Iran.

My one qualification would be that Roe isn’t “one of the most controversial court cases in the past half century”; it is “the most controversial court cases in the past half century.” For Richardson to know absolutely nothing about it – or about his supposed model Supreme Court justice, for that matter – should render him about as serious a candidate as Mike Gravel. Oh, and for the record, if someone asks who your model justice is, the correct answer is either Brennan or Douglas.

You Won’t Like Him When He’s, Er, Himself

Mark Penn is one scary bastard. Matt:

[I]f you think the problem with the Democratic Party is that it’s insufficiently inclined to support wars, you’ll like Mark Penn. If you think the Party is insufficiently friendly to the interests of major corporations and wealthy individuals, you’ll like Mark Penn. If you think Menachim Begin was a great man and that the world needs more Dick Morris acolytes, you’ll like Mark Penn. And if you like Mark Penn, you’ll love Hillary Clinton since he “controls the main elements of her campaign . . . has consolidated his power, according to advisers close to the campaign, taking increasing control of the operation . . . has become involved in virtually every move Clinton makes, with the result that the campaign reflects the chief strategist as much as the candidate.”

Okay, then. As someone who thinks the Democratic Party is more than sufficiently inclined to support wars, big business, and the wealthy, that Menachim Begin was a quite bad man, and that Dick Morris is a dangerous fool, I’m feeling pretty safe with my choice.

The Debate


  • Bill Richardson sucked it hard. He looked totally out of it, completely bombed a question about his sympathy for Gonzales because of his race, gave an awful answer about his ideal Supreme Court justice (Byron White? He voted against Roe and Miranda and wrote Bowers! How much worse can you get?) and looked at his notes during a question about health care, making himself look quite unprepared. He’s not a serious candidate after tonight.
  • Mike Gravel is crazy, and I love it. I would so watch a show of just him ranting for an hour. It would be massively entertaining.
  • Obama completely demolished both Edwards and Kucinich, in two separate instances. First, Edwards implicitly accused Obama of substituting “high falutin’ talk” for subtance on health care. Obama then replied by laying out, in detail, his health care plan. It completely deflated Edwards. Later, Kucinich accused Obama of warmongering with Iran, and Obama responded by denying he wanted to attack, but also by going after Kucinich’s blasé attitude about Iran and making himself look far, far more serious on the issue. It was a true Sister Souljah moment.
    P.S. It’s so weird that Scott Lemieux and I mentioned the exact same three cases when attacking Byron White.

  • The Big Questions

    This post, by Mike Boyer at Foreign Policy‘s Passport blog, is beyond bizarre:

    The most telling thing about the Senate vote this afternoon on the $124 billion supplemental war spending bill, which happens to require American troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq in October, is who abstained from voting: John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Tim Johnson.
    “The Maverick” McCain was either too busy campaigning for president to return and vote on the most important and contentious issue facing Congress today, or he was afraid vote for or against a troop withdrawal on the record.

    Boyer really seems to think that there is a question as to how McCain would have voted. Which there really isn’t.

    I Love My State

    New Hampshire’s State House and Senate have passed a civil unions bill, and Gov. Lynch has promised to sign it. It’s still second-class citizenship, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing. Also, note that it was passed legislatively; Connecticut is the only other state to pass unions this way. While court-required unions are fine, that it passed democratically is a credit to the tolerance and compassion of the people of both states.

    Me Likey the Oppressive Totalitarianism

    This is just so completely, utterly wrong:

    Mexico City’s legalization of first trimester abortions—carried out by a legislature, not a court—should serve as an instructive reminder of how things might have been in the United States had the Supreme Court not intervened in 1973. Supporters of the Mexico City legislation say they hope Mexico’s states will follow suit with their own liberal abortion laws. It’s safe to predict that five years from now, despite the Church’s vigorous opposition, that is exactly what will happen.
    So here’s a thought experiment: Imagine Roe v. Wade never took place. The United States would be on Mexico’s abortion trajectory, just 40 years earlier. As the National Abortion Federation explains, “[b]etween 1967 and 1973, two-thirds of the states liberalized or repealed their criminal abortion laws.” First and even second trimester abortions would probably have been legal in most U.S. states by 1980.
    Just what did Roe accomplish, then? Well, by circumventing what would have been a gradual and temperate evolution of abortion policy, buttressed by democratic consensus, the decision begot a politicized Christianity, the Right’s fixation with social issues at the expense of policy, and decades of public acrimony. Your mileage may vary, but I think it’s a shame that Mexico’s example came too late.

    I would go on a lengthy tirade about how totally wrongheaded this is (“Ladies, would you mind forgetting about your rights for a decade or more so that we can avoid acrimony? I mean, don’t you hate acrimony?”) but instead I’ll let vintage Scott Lemieux do it for me.

    “Everyone Else Has Cake to Eat”

    Did Laura Bush really say, with a straight face, that “no one suffers more than their president and I do” when it comes to Iraq? Because I’m pretty sure that there are thousands, nay millions of people, Iraqi and American, who suffer a whole heckuvalot more than they do. I really hope that this is her Marie Antoinette moment; when I inform people that she once killed a man* they usually don’t believe me, but they might after this.
    P.S. Wow. I looked up a news article about the car accident in which Laura Bush killed someone, and it turns out she said basically the same thing about that accident that she did today about Iraq: “I know this as an adult, and even more as a parent, it was crushing … for the family involved and for me as well.” Emphasis mine. Sympathy for the perpetrator runs real deep in her, doesn’t it?

    *To be fair, it was vehicular manslaughter, not murder, which makes it slightly less awful.