Archive

  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JOHNNY COME LATELY

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JOHNNY COME LATELY . John Edwards has completely reversed his pro-war stance, and now he appears to be gearing up for another run at the Democratic nomination. Zack Pelta-Heller reports that Edwards' plan for the immediate withdrawal of 40,000 troops from Iraq could distinguish him from the more centrist candidates. --The Editors
  • BUT IS IT...

    BUT IS IT GOOD ENOUGH? Lot of interesting feedback on the Wyden plan , some of which I want to explore a little further. But first, I want to ask a question: Can anybody truly see Congress passing a piece of legislation and a president signing a bill that, in one stroke of the pen, dissolves Aetna, UnitedHealthGroup, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, and all the rest? We're talking about the full dissolution of multibillion dollar corporations that employ thousands and thousands of people, contribute heavily to a wide swath of politicians and provide massive tax revenues to a large collection of states, and have been the sole providers of health coverage for nearly a century now. Forget whether you, or I, think their demolition would be a good idea: Do you see it as a possibility? I've tried to imagine it. Believe me, I have. But I can't. Not in the near-term, anyway. Which why I'm somewhat unimpressed by demands that Democratic proposals start from a single-payer stance and condemns any...
  • IRAQ 25K.

    IRAQ 25K. At icasualties.org , the site which tracks American and coalitional deaths and woundings, there is a fantastic slideshow essay put together by Glenn Kutler for Newsweek to mark the 25,000th American casualty -- about 22,000 wounded, and nearly 3,000 dead -- in Iraq. (Click on the impossible-to-miss graphic in the top-right corner of the site to start the slideshow.) It is sobering to watch. So far this month, there have been 48 American fatalities through 14 days which, should that pace continue, will result in 106 total fatalities by month's end. There have never been back-to-back triple-digit fatality months during the war, and this month will be no exception, since November brought only 69 fatalities. But if this month continues at its present pace, it will mark the second time there has been two triple-digit fatality months within a three-month span. The other such window? That would be November 2004 when, after six months of waiting for Bush 's re-election to begin the...
  • 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...

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