Say what you will about Stalin … he was no Babbitt.

by John Holbo on February 19, 2008

I’ll state my question first: to what extent did people believe, in the 30’s and early 40’s, that capitalism was doomed? [click to continue…]

Castro retires

by Chris Bertram on February 19, 2008

I haven’t looked yet, but I’ve no doubt that there’ll be lots of posts in the blogosphere saying “good riddance” to Fidel Castro (especially from “left” US bloggers like Brad DeLong who never miss the chance to distance themselves). And, of course, Castro ran a dictatorship that has, since 1959, committed its fair share of crimes, repressions, denials of democratic rights etc. Still, I’m reminded of A.J.P. Taylor writing somewhere or other (reference please, dear readers?) that what the capitalists and their lackeys really really hated about Soviet Russia was not its tyrannical nature but the fact that there was a whole chunk of the earth’s surface where they were no longer able to operate. Ditto Cuba, for a much smaller chunk. So let’s hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care. Let’s hear it for the Cubans who help defeat the South Africans and their allies in Angola and thereby prepared the end of apartheid. Let’s hear it for the middle-aged Cuban construction workers who held off the US forces for a while on Grenada. Let’s hear it for Elian Gonzalez. Let’s hear it for 49 years of defiance in the face of the US blockade. Hasta la victoria siempre!

“Mark Schmitt”: on another of those principles that John McCain only “‘bends or breaks out of desperation and with distaste'”:

We now have the exact language of John McCain’s “second loan,” and it is a legal masterpiece, albeit an ethical travesty … rather than pledge his existing certification for matching funds as collateral for the loan, which would bind him to the system and thus the spending limits, McCain carefully pledged to seek to re-enter the system later, and to use a non-existent future certification as collateral. And while the system is “voluntary,” McCain essentially traded away for cash his right to choose whether to participate in the system, and even his right to drop out of the presidential race, allowing the bank to force McCain “to remain an active candidate” in order to reapply for and qualify for funds. He was betting the spread (10 points) on his own primary performance!

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say this is a promise to perpetuate a fraud on the American taxpayers: if he no longer intended to seek the presidency, he made a legally-binding promise to pretend to remain in the race just long enough to collect public money to repay the loan. … Is this illegal? Who knows. … What we know is that McCain found a way to use the public funds as an insurance policy: If he did poorly, he would use public funds to pay off his loans. If he did well, he would have the advantage of unlimited spending. There’s a reason no one’s ever done anything like this. It makes a travesty of the choice inherent in voluntary public financing, between public funds and unlimited spending.