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You Decide in 2004: Kerry or Scary?

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Terror and Liberalism

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria


Polyarchy by Robert Dahl

The Nazi Seizure of Power

The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

Terror and Liberalism

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman

In Association with

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck



This Blog Has Moved!
This blog now has a new home.  Please redirect yourself to in the future.  Update your links accordingly.  I hope you like the new site!
Note: this site will remain up for posterity.  All archives will remain active on this site for reference.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 10:24:00 AM

Friday, July 23, 2004  


The Ultimate Flip-Flopper
Back in February Bush appeared on Meet the Press and stumbled through a defense of his administration's exaggerations and falty evidence for war.  In the course of that interview Bush declared himself a "war president."  He was proud of being a "war president" and he seemed to come alive at the prospect of declaring his macho descriptive title. 
The 'Peace President'

"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind."

But that was then.  This is now:
"Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."

The flip, and the flop.  Bush went on to say he wants a pony for Christmas and for the Texas Rangers to go undefeated in the regular season.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 3:37:00 PM

Wednesday, July 21, 2004  


For the Sake of French Jews - or for Israel?
I understand where Sharon is coming from on this, but it seems extreme for him to say that French Jews "must" relocate to Israel to avoid the wave of rising anti-semitism in Europe.  Even French Jewish leaders say Sharon's comments are unhelpful.
Sharon's plan

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has urged all French Jews to move to Israel immediately to escape anti-Semitism.

He told a meeting of the American Jewish Association in Jerusalem that Jews around the world should relocate to Israel as early as possible.

But for those living in France, he added, moving was a "must" because of rising violence against Jews there.

France's foreign ministry said it had asked Israel for an explanation of the "unacceptable comments".

French Jewish leaders, interviewed on France-2 Television, said Mr Sharon's remarks were unhelpful.

"These comments do not bring calm, peace and serenity that we all need," said Patrick Gaubert, of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra). "I think Mr Sharon would have done better tonight to have kept quiet."

I suspect Sharon has some underlying motivations beyond the admirable goal protecting French Jews.  It is well known that the Israeli Jewish population does not have the same sort of gang-buster population growth rate as Israeli Arabs.  As a result, in the not too distant future Israeli Arabs could constitute a larger portion of the population than do Israeli Jews.  Arabs would be able to use democracy to their advantage in the "Jewish state" and, as conspiratorial-minded Israeli Jews might suggest, they could destroy the state of Israel from the inside out. 
Of course this suggestion of Israeli Arab collusion with terrorists is far-fetched, but having a larger Arab than Jewish population in Israel would throw quite a monkeywrench in the concept of Israeli democracy. 
I suspect Sharon may be trying to encourage mass migration to Israel by French Jews in an attempt to counter-balance the lopsided birth rate discrepancy.  If that is his goal, Sharon is fighting a losing battle.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 11:21:00 AM


Wages Lag In This Booming Economy
Is this the booming economy everyone is talking about? Last time I checked shrinking wages were a bad thing.  Having a recovery where only CEO's gain is not good for the economy in the long-term.
Keeping up with the wages

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that hourly earnings of production workers - nonmanagement workers ranging from nurses and teachers to hamburger flippers and assembly-line workers - fell 1.1 percent in June, after accounting for inflation. The June drop, the steepest decline since the depths of recession in mid-1991, came after a 0.8 percent fall in real hourly earnings in May.

Coming on top of a 12-minute drop in the average workweek, the decline in the hourly rate last month cut deeply into workers' pay. In June, production workers took home $525.84 a week, on average. After accounting for inflation, this is about $8 less than they were pocketing last January, and is the lowest level of weekly pay since October 2001.

"There's a bit of a dichotomy," said Ethan S. Harris, chief economist at Lehman Brothers. "Joe Six-Pack is under a lot of pressure. He got a lousy raise; he's paying more for gasoline and milk. He's not doing that great. But proprietors' income is up. Profits are up. Home values are up. Middle-income and upper-income people are looking pretty good."
Republicans will (correctly) argue that an economy is driven not by low-income consumers but by high end consumers and corporate investments.  That may be true, but if the vast majority of people do not see their incomes rise in accordance with the "recovery," is it really a recovery?  This graph which I posted a few weeks ago tells the story quite clearly.

Some economists warn that if wages remain depressed for a long time they may end up weighing on the economy. "The recovery will likely continue on despite the travails of lower-income households, but it cannot flourish," Mr. Zandi said.

So far, spending has been fueled mostly by debt, as consumers took advantage of bedrock-low interest rates to whip out their credit cards and refinance their mortgages. But as interest rates rise to keep inflation in check, continued growth in consumer spending will depend more on jobs and wages.

A full recovery requires an economy which is fully healthy. If jobs and wages don't go anywhere we aren't really gaining ground. Bush may not care about this type of discrepency, but it matters to the majority of workers who earn those low wages. They are getting pinched. That is what matters.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 2:21:00 PM

Monday, July 19, 2004