China and its Discontents

Archive for August, 2010

“A Chinese Girl’s Dilemma”

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Originally from Also Buzz and the City and Little Red Book.

My question is: where’s the white foreigner?

Written by Will

August 21st, 2010 at 10:28 pm

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Greetings from Beijing Capital International Airport, the shiniest gleaming mass of marble I've ever seen. Pictures from the local neighborhood (Haidian) and Beiwai (Beijing Foreign Studies University) soon to follow.


Posted via email from williamyale’s posterous

Written by Will

August 20th, 2010 at 8:43 am

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Obama’s Bad Analogy

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President Obama at a fundraiser for Patty Murray:

They spent almost a decade driving the economy into a ditch. I mean, think about it, if this — if the economy was a car and they drove it into the ditch. (Laughter.) And so me and Patty, and a bunch of others, we go down there and we put on our boots and we’re pushing and shoving. And it’s muddy and there are bugs and we’re sweating — (laughter) — and shoving, pushing hard. And they’re all standing there sipping Slurpees — (laughter) — and watching and — “you’re not pushing hard enough.” “That’s not the right way to push.” (Pretends to sip a Slurpee.) (Laughter and applause.)

So finally, finally, Patty and I and everybody, we finally get the car up on level ground. We’re about to go forward. And these guys come and tap us on the shoulder, and they say, “We want the keys back.” (Laughter.)

You can’t have the keys back. You don’t know how to drive. (Applause.) You don’t know how to drive. (Applause.) You can’t have them back. (Applause.) Can’t have them back. You can’t have them back. We are trying to go forward. We do not want to go backwards — into the ditch again.

You notice, when you want to move forward in your car, what do you do? You put your car in “D.” (Applause.) When you want to go backwards, you put it in “R” — (applause) — back into the ditch. Keep that in mind in November. (Applause.) That’s not a coincidence. (Laughter.)

And Ezra Klein’s response:

Maybe I’m just breathing too much of The Washington Post’s air, but that last bit bugs me. The driving analogy? Fine. It’s a colorful way of making a fair point about Republican mismanagement of the economy. But that bit about “D” and “R”? It doesn’t feel presidential. It’s more like the sort of joke that your liberal grandmother would forward you. It’s lame.

My instinctual reaction when I heard that was the same. Obama’s been using the driving analogy for a while, though.

Written by Will

August 18th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Ted Olson’s Remarkable Defense of Same Sex Marriage

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I liked the title so much that I completely ripped it off of Steve Clemon’s post on the same video, but I had seen this several days before he posted it.

Written by Will

August 11th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Senator Obama vs. President Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan

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Fair question, Senator Obama.

“At what point do we say: ‘Enough’?”

Written by Will

August 10th, 2010 at 9:55 pm

The Incoherency Syndrome: GOP

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You cannot construct a coherent policy model for the Republican Party’s policies over the past two years…

From Ezra Klein. Find me a coherent Republican platform and I’ll show you Sarah Palin’s gay, San Franciscan fans. Who are also simultaneously socialist.

Written by Will

August 5th, 2010 at 9:01 am

Bike Promotion is a New World Order Conspiracy!

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Enter Dan Maes, nutjob candidate for governor of Colorado:

“At first, I thought, ‘Gosh, public transportation, what’s wrong with that, and what’s wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what’s wrong with incentives for green cars?’ But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty,” Maes said.

I’m not sure how that follows.

Written by Will

August 5th, 2010 at 2:01 am

Why Justice Kennedy Will Vote to Overturn Prop 8

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I celebrate with gay marriage proponents everywhere in hearing that District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has overturned Prop 8. But this isn’t the end of the journey along the court system. The decision is going to be appealed, where it will land in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually the Supreme Court. Anthony Kennedy currently holds the distinction as the the swing vote in a polarized Supreme Court that regularly votes 5-4 on highly-partisan cases (the fact that it does so often makes these cases highly-partisan itself). So the pertinent question (one that pundits will be asking for months until the Supreme Court releases its decision) is whether Anthony Kennedy will sustain the District Court ruling, overturn Prop 8, and bring gay couples into full equality in the institution of marriage.

I believe that Kennedy will unquestionably vote to sustain Walker’s ruling. All one has to do to come to this conclusion is to read Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. Justice Kennedy strongly believes in the rights of everyone to enter into relationships that do not harm others or interests the state protects. In fact, he justifies this belief in the same ways other justices have historically reasoned on the right of privacy: that the right to have sex, to love, to date, and to marry, is per the 14th amendment ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’. It is the basis by which society and all other rights are built. What follows is a short paper I wrote on the subject of Kennedy’s opinion in Lawrence. If after reading this and his opinion you are still skeptical Kennedy will side on the favor of gay marriage, email me.

In Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Kennedy made the right argument in favor of overturning Texas’ ban on homosexual sodomy. The strongest argument in favor of overturning this ban is the first argument that Justice Kennedy makes – that this ban violates fundamental human liberties of the most private human conduct, in violation of the Due Process Clause in the 14th Amendment. The dissenting opinion in this case, written by Justices Scalia, Rehnquist, and Thomas, tries to argue that ‘homosexual sodomy’ is not a fundamental right under the Due Process Clause. This is a mockery of Kennedy’s argument, and is not the fundamental right that he argues for.

The freedom to conduct in private consensual sex, ‘absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects’, is but one small part of the liberty Kennedy argues for. The freedom to have sex, and more broadly the freedom to enter into the relationships that accompany it, are fundamental to the functioning of the entire human species. If we are not secure in our ability to enter into a romantic relationship absent the government stepping in to play matchmaker, then we cannot be secure in any freedom. Even when the most primal right of freedom to procreate is not at stake (given that this concerns homosexual sodomy), the ability to freely enter into these relationships cannot be abrogated. The right question is not: do we have a right to enter into consensual, loving relationships without government interference? The right question is: how can the government have a right to infringe upon our personal relationships?

I do not believe that Justice Kennedy’s later arguments invalidating the precedent or tradition against homosexual sodomy are as strong as the previous argument. Kennedy argued that laws banning this conduct were relatively new, and that similar laws are not endemic to Western Civilization or Judeo-Christian moral standards. If you take the first argument as a given, then Justice Kennedy should not need to invalidate precedent or tradition. If sexual self-determination is a fundamental liberty, then modern laws or tradition are simply wrong.

The dissent’s strongest arguments lie in blurring the difference between homosexual sodomy and other widely-punished offenses such as bigamy, adult incest, prostitution, and same-sex marriage (which at the time of writing had not yet been legal in any state). They argue that if laws banning homosexual sodomy are overturned, then no laws banning moral offenses can stand. This is a false dichotomy, because there is a distinct difference between homosexual sodomy and gay marriage on one hand and polygamy and incest on the other. Justice Kennedy provided the standard in his brief – keeping such laws if they dealt with practices that caused injury to a person or abuse of a legally protected institution. Incest and polygamy are argued to cause psychological harm – the first to children and the second to the multiple wives. Gay sodomy and marriage is consensual and causes no harm.

I personally come out in favor of the Majority in Lawrence. In the course of restating one of Justice Kennedy’s arguments, I stated my own opinion: if we are not secure in our ability to choose sexual partners or engage in serious relationships, then we cannot be secure in any right. If homosexuals are not free to engage in sexual practices, then neither are heterosexuals.

Written by Will

August 4th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Denying Right to Worship is a ‘Betrayal of Our Values’

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I agree – it is a categorical negation of the Constitution to bar the adherents of any religion the right to build a house of worship. From Michael Bloomberg:

The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.

“Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.

That is a great speech. The archetypal speech on religious freedom, even.

Written by Will

August 4th, 2010 at 2:07 am

National Infrastructure Bank?

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Here’s an idea, of which I was reminded of in the Brookings Institution’s “Export Nation” report: a National Infrastructure Bank. These days it seems the only way Congress is able to act is when it spins off its powers to another institution (re: the Independent Medicare Advisory Committee, or IMAC). Regardless, I would look forward to an infrastructure bank. Instead of re-appropriating funds every year, which could be discouraged in times like these, an infrastructure bank could be more nimble and light on its feet. This is a useful quality when one considers the vast demand for infrastructure investment.

Written by Will

August 3rd, 2010 at 5:08 am