Archive

  • SHARK ATTACK.

    SHARK ATTACK. Dr. Evil : You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! Earlier this year, the Navy began to do research on the possibility of using sharks as spies. Progress, apparently, has been made, and much of the project has been classified. Back in the spring, I figured this research was in its earliest, most basic stages -- getting a sense of what makes a shark tick. Not so. Boston University professor Jelle Atema can actually "steer a shark" -- either through "electrical stimulation of the brain" or by delivering "little odor pulses" of "squid juice" to the predator's nose. Apparently, a video is available . The status of the head-mounted lasers is, as of yet, unknown. --Robert Farley
  • False Fears of Protectionism on China

    The Post once again raises fears that less educated workers might gain some of the protection currently enjoyed by more educated workers. In an article on Treasury Secretary Paulson's trip to China, it quotes without comment Senator Schumer's comment that China's continued refusal to raise the value of its currency could damage the "increasingly fragile consensus for free trade." Of course, there is no such consensus and Mr. Schumer does not support free trade. He has not been active in any efforts to remove the barriers that protect doctors and lawyers and other highly paid professioanls. Mr. Schumer's focus has been in removing any barriers that protect less-educated workers from competition with the developing world. There is no economic theory that implies that protection for less educated workers is more harmful than protection for highly educated workers. It would have been interesting if the reporter had asked Mr. Schumer why he is so worried that manufacturing workers might...
  • JOHNSON SEMI-UPDATE.

    JOHNSON SEMI-UPDATE. Just to update Ezra 's post, see his comment thread for information showing that there's some conflict and confusion in SD law about when a special election would be held (either soon after the vacancy or not until the next general election). That's just an informational update, and for now we'll wait for actual word of Johnson 's condition before saying anything else. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • TIM JOHNSON. ...

    TIM JOHNSON. Word is that South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson has suffered a serious stroke. A call to his office produced only the information that he'd been feeling poorly this morning and was now in the hospital -- in other words, no denials. It's testament to the tunnel vision of DC that my friend informed me of this with an IM saying "We [Democrats] may have just lost the Senate." But, in fact, if Johnson's condition leads to retirement or worse, South Dakota's Republican legislature and governor will have to appoint a replacement, who'll likely be a Republican, overturning the Senate. In a Senate this close, acts of God and ravages of age assume a powerful role, and the voters are hostage to their whims. For that reason, the succession strategies in place nationwide have always struck me as totally bizarre -- why doesn't the retiree's state party pick the successor (and that goes for such events on both ends of the aisle)? In any case, all thoughts are with Johnson and his family...
  • HUMILIATION & JIHAD....

    HUMILIATION & JIHAD. The new issue of Democracy has an important piece by Peter Bergen and Michael Lind about the root causes of Islamic terrorism, and the contribution of feelings of grievance among upper- and middle-class Arabs to radical anti-Americanism. They conclude that material global inequality is not issue, it is global inequality in status: While bin Laden and his allies must simply be defeated, their appeal to potential new recruits can be limited by policies that reduce feelings of collective humiliation in the Arab and Muslim worlds. According to a recent National Intelligence Estimate, the American occupation of Iraq is now inspiring jihadists in the way that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, Russian control of Chechnya, and Indian rule over Kashmiri Muslims long have done. Ending the humiliating occupation of Muslim populations by non-Muslim nations will remove some of the major grievances that jihadists use as a recruiting tool. Conversely, to...
  • DOES HILLARY ACTUALLY WANT DENVER?

    DOES HILLARY ACTUALLY WANT DENVER? A Rocky Mountain News story about Hillary Clinton benefiting from Denver being selected to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention is spot-on. Yet a source close enough to the site machinations told me last week that Clinton is really pushing for New York. I confirmed with Clinton blogger nonpareil Peter Daou that, in fact, Hillary wants NYC to host the convention. As an advocate of the pan-western strategy for Democrats, with special focus on the Interior West and Midwest, I think it would be a tragic error to have the 2008 convention in New York. So long as Denver has sufficient facilities (I�m told it does) and can raise the money (I�m told this is the major impediment), Democrats could send a key signal to western voters by hold their first convention since 1928 east of California and west of Chicago. Surely Mike Stratton , a key Clintonite in Denver and one of the smartest Democrats I met while touring the country researching my book ,...
  • THE HEALTHY AMERICANS...

    THE HEALTHY AMERICANS ACT. It's been some time since I've run across a genuinely new health care proposal, but the comprehensive reform legislation Ron Wyden 's unveiled today is just such a beast. Wyden, a gangly goofball of a Senator who last turned heads for his tax reform ideas, must have decided fully restructuring the tax code was thinking too small, so this morning, he took over the Senate Finance Committee's hearing room, brought in an array of union leaders, CEOs, and health wonks, and argued to totally scrap the employer-based health system. Here's how it would work: The Healthy Americans Act of 2007 would begin by dissolving all employer-based insurance. Instead, it would mandate that every employer who had covered his employees in 2006 convert the total they spent on insurance into salary increases creating, in one day, the single largest pay raise America has ever seen. Now, why would employers go along with that? Well, legislatively they'd have to, but, as Len Nichols...
  • PINOCHET'S NON-LEGACY.

    PINOCHET'S NON-LEGACY. Reacting to the "communist dictatorships (Cuba!) versus right-wing dictatorships (Chile!)" discussions kicked up by Augusto Pinochet 's death, Matt offers a unified theory of the terrible right-wing foreign policy approach to both countries. Meanwhile, via MaxSpeak comes this very interesting 2004 Washington Post piece pushing back on the conventional wisdom about the glorious legacy of Pinochet's free-market liberalization. Chile's modern economic success, Jon Jeter argues, owes much to state interventions that occurred after (and as a corrective to) Pinochet's reforms. The difference between Chile and the rest of the continent can be stark. When Bolivian demonstrators in October forced their president to flee the country in violent protests against globalization's unevenness, the first Starbucks was opening in Chile. Nearly half of all Brazilian workers do not have a job contract; for Chile the figure is 1 in 5. The number of Argentines living in poverty has...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CAGING THE INFLATION HAWKS. EPI's Jared Bernstein says the Fed was right not to raise interest rates yesterday, and ought to lower them the next time around. --The Editors
  • WHY THE "PARTIAL BIRTH" CASE MATTERS: AN ANTI-REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM PERSPECTIVE.

    WHY THE "PARTIAL BIRTH" CASE MATTERS: AN ANTI-REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM PERSPECTIVE. Hadley Arkes , one of the pro-life movement's most prominent intellectuals, has an article in First Things about the upcoming "partial birth" abortion decision. It starts off strangely, with the claim that "people on both sides seriously expect the Court will use its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade ." My question -- such as who? I read as much as I can on the subject, and I certainly haven't encountered anyone saying this. The "people" adduced here would seem to be comparable to the extensive list of Castro lovers in academia and the media that Tailgunner Glenn Reynolds claims to have . What many pro-choicers have argued is that the partial-birth case can be used to water Casey 's "undue burden" standard down to pretty much nothing. And where Arkes's essay is useful (in addition to previewing the highly unconvincing ad hoc justifications that will be trotted out if Clarence Thomas makes the unprincipled...

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