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  • PLA COUNTER-INSURGENCY

    PLA COUNTER-INSURGENCY . Over at Ezra's place, Dymaxion John had an interesting post about the PLA and Islamic insurgents in Western China. The idea of the PLA developing counter-insurgency doctrine fascinates me from a military culture point of view, since the PLA originated as an insurgent organization, and its leaders developed much of the theoretical foundation of the insurgency strategy. How well did they make the switch from being guerrillas to hunting guerrillas? The PLA fought a successful counter-insurgency campaign against Tibetan rebels who were being supported by India, Taiwan, and the U.S. in the 1950s, although it took about ten years. Information about the campaign is predictably sparse. I have to suspect, though, that as the PLA has made the transition to a modern, conventional military organization it's lost much of whatever counter-insurgency capability it may once have had. Still, the article John highlights indicates some success, which may mean that the expertise...
  • THE RIGHT TO...

    THE RIGHT TO DENTAL. Generally, when I speak about universal health care, I'm implicitly including universal dental care, as the idea that the health of your teeth is somehow separate from the health of your joints seems self-evidently ridiculous. Maybe I need to be more clear : Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday. A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him. If his mother had been insured. If his family had not lost its Medicaid. If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find. If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.[...] Deamonte's death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care. Dental care also has another function. Neglected teeth rot. Rotted teeth fall out. And toothlessness is a signifier, in our culture, of poverty and backwardness. It harms an individual's ability...
  • THE REAL RUDY....

    THE REAL RUDY. Bossman Tomasky and Fred Siegel are debating Giuliani 's candidacy and and presidential prospects over at The New Republic , and Mike concludes with a point I want to amplify. "[Giuliani will] need the right's support to function as president," he writes, "and I believe his track record shows us that he'll act accordingly far more often than most people think he will." To repeat a point I made in a recent BloggingHeads with Ross Douthat , the question isn't whether he'll make compromises, it's where he'll want to compromise. Which issues doesn't he care about? And if you look at his record and emphases, it's pretty clear that the issues he's indifferent towards are the exact areas responsible for the myth of his moderation. He'll probably not budge on the War on Terror, where he actually appears to agree with the hardliners on the right. Crime and education, where he's also reliably Republican, are dear to his heart as well. He's not amassed any sort of liberal record...
  • CHENEY: ME-NOT-ME DON'T PLAY THAT WAY.

    CHENEY: ME-NOT-ME DON'T PLAY THAT WAY. A day after Richard V. Cheney shook his finger at Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for not doing enough to rid Pakistan's border region of Taliban and al-Qaeda, Cheney got a taste of what it's like to be Musharraf when a Taliban suicide bomber detonated, within Cheney's earshot, a device that killed 23 people at the U.S. base at Bagram Airport. But the latest twist, in a story that gets more bizarre by the minute, is an interview given by "a senior administration official" who would only allow him or herself to be identified that way, using the first person to discuss the way in which the vice president operates. From the AP : "Let me just make one editorial comment here," the official said. "I've seen some press reporting says, 'Cheney went in to beat up on them, threaten them.' That's not the way I work. I don't know who writes that, or maybe somebody gets it from some source who doesn't know what I'm doing, or isn't involved in it. But the...
  • Stop the Press! David Lereah is Upbeat on the Housing Market

    Yes folks, that's right, David Lereah, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, and the author of the 2005 bestseller, Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust and How You Can Prfoit From It , says that the worst of the housing slump is behind us. In the Post's favor, they at least included the views of Mark Zandi, a moderate housing bear, in this one. --Dean Baker
  • Down Market? Look at the Fundamentals

    Listening to NPR and reading the business press commenting on yesterday's Wall Street selloff, I repeatedly see the phrase "look to the fundamentals." This is good advice, but I can't imagine which fundamentals these folks are looking at, since the fundamentals seem to reassure them. When I look at the fundamentals, I see front and center an unprecedented explosion in house prices. From 1953 to 1995 house prices track the overall rate of inflation closely. From 1995 to the present, house prices have risen by 70 percent in real terms. No one has an explanation for this run-up based on the fundamentals of the housing market. (The lack of any significant run-up in rents seems to disqualify any explanation based on conditions of supply and demand in the housing market.) This run-up in house prices has created more than $5 trillion in housing wealth. This has spurred an extraordinary consumption boom, pushing the savings rate into negative territory for the first time since the beggining...
  • Does a Recession Loom? Let's Talk to All the People Who Were Caught by Surprise

    NYT columnist David Leonhardt notes that the manufacturing sector has slid into a recession and raises the possibility that the rest of the economy might follow suit. To get insight on this topic, he talks to several people who were caught by surprise with the new signs of weakness. It's always good to talk to the people who were shown wrong and ask them how they assess the situation in light of the new evidence. However, it also might be a good idea to talk to some of the people who were not surprised by the economic weakness. After all, once we accept that the earth revolves around the sun, we don't want to get all our information on astronomy from believers in an earth centered universe. ( Here's my own two cents on the economic prospects.) Just to remind everyone about the accuracy of econometric forecasters and the lack of consequence in this profession for being completely wrong, in the fall of 2000, not one of the fifty "Blue Chip" forecasters saw the 2001 recession coming. --...
  • IF KIDS COULD VOTE ...

    IF KIDS COULD VOTE ... The Children's Defense Fund started a faux presidential campaign supporting a 10-year-old girl named Suzie Flynn for president. The press stunt is largely targeted at drawing attention to funding cuts for the state program called SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program. It's currently scheduled to expire in September, and governors have gathered testimony from mothers around the country to support federal funding for the program. -- Kay Steiger
  • EITC VS. THE...

    EITC VS. THE MINIMUM WAGE. You often hear conservatives argue that we shouldn't increase the minimum wage, we should raise the Earned Income Tax Credit. Setting aside the claim's disingenuousness -- not much in the way of EITC increases after six years of Republican governance, I fear -- it's not true that the two policies are interchangeable. The minimum wage has uses and benefits that tax credits don't, and vice-versa. Over at EPI, Max Sawicky has a paper laying those variations out in full. He concludes that while simplifying and expanding tax credits may be a worthwhile policy objective, "boosting incomes with a higher minimum wage avoids the dangers of reduced work incentives and larger marriage penalties in the income tax, escapes the burden of offsetting the cost of an expanded credit under the pay-as-you-go rules, foregoes the complexity of redesigning the tax system, and provides a benefit in plain view of the worker." That PayGo bit is particularly important, as the...
  • THIS AIN'T NO KOREMATSU, THIS AIN"T NO FOOLING AROUND.

    THIS AIN'T NO KOREMATSU, THIS AIN"T NO FOOLING AROUND. The Canadian lawblogger Pithlord has a good analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada's recent Charkaoui decision , which held that the Canadian government's procedures for detaining and deporting terrorist suspects were insufficient to meet the requirements of fundamental justice. As he said, the decision is judicial review "at its best": "[t]he Court encouraged a more moderate response to a serious problem, one that has the potential to reduce miscarriages of justice." The Court's meticulous balancing of legitimate state interests and constitutional rights is particularly instructive in light of Benjamin Wittes' world-weary sneering about the inherent incapacity of courts to make reasonable legal judgments during times of war. --Scott Lemieux

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