IRAQI AIR FORCE. Speaking of the air force, it's important to remember that air power, while hardly a panacea, certainly plays an important role in modern military operations. Although air power is less important to counter-insurgency conflicts than high-intensity wars, having control of the air and being able to deliver ordinance to targets never hurts. If the Iraqi government is to fight Iraqi insurgents, it will need an air force. Unfortunately, things aren't going so well on that front:
Projections show that the combined cost of Medicare, Medcaid, and maintaining the roads and sidewalks in front of the Washington Post will increase by more than 8 percentage points of GDP by 2050. Clearly we cannot afford to maintain the roads and sidewalks. When will politicians have the courage to cut the budget for maintaining the roads and sidewalks in front of the Washington Post?
Hal Varian (my former micro professor) has an interesting piece in the NYT about the impact on the entertainment industry of the declining cost of producing and distributing video material. The basic story is that free material (e.g. YouTube) drives out costly material (e.g conventional movies). The greater the availability of free material, the less time and money will be spent on costly material.
The NYT reports on yet another incident in which the pharmaceutical industry has misrepresented research findings in an effort to promote one of its drugs. This is exactly the sort of corruption that economic theory predicts from a situation in which government patent monopolies give drug companies large monopoly rents.
THE FRAUD CAUCUS FUND. I have to agree with Ari Bermanof The Nation that the logical underpinnings of Republicans Who Care are shaky at best. A bunch of decrepit moderate millionaire Republicans are jumping into the breach between their far-right party leadership and moderate districts to save members of the Fraud Caucus like Chris Shays and Deborah Pryce.
FROM THE DECEMBER PRINT ISSUE: A LIBERAL MANIFESTO. Recently, Tony Judt wrote a piece for the London Review of Books entitled "Bush's Useful Idiots," which charged American liberals -- not "some" or "too many" American liberals, simply "American liberals" -- with "acquiesc[ing] in President Bush's catastrophic foreign policy." The essay caused a big stir -- and made Todd Gitlin and Bruce Ackerman a bit mad.
RACE MATTERS.Joe Klein's recent mash note to Barack Obama, which Charlie Pierce talks about here, contains some interesting (if banal) reflections on the problems faced by black Democrats. Either they can seek to appeal to other African-Americans, thus jacking up turnout but confining them to majority African-American districts, or they can move towards white voters, which will depress turnout among liberals and blacks. It ain't easy.
CONSPIRACY.Ezra had an interesting post over at his place the other day about the problematic relationship between Serious People and what they dismiss as conspiracy theories. He then thanks someone for passing along the details of the MK-Ultra fiasco. (By the way, according to recent reports, everything old is new again.) It's all a matter of perspective, really, even for those of us who've had a sweet-tooth for American political paranoia most of our lives.