• LORDY.

    LORDY. Good to see Eason Jordan , of all people, legitimizing an absurd right-wing mau mau campaign against the press. --Sam Rosenfeld

    QUICK ANNOUNCEMENT. For our DC readers, Tom will be at Olsson's in Dupont Circle tonight at 7:00 PM discussing Whistling Past Dixie -- all are welcome and Tom's eager to say hi. --Sam Rosenfeld

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JUSTICE DEPORTED . When immigration enforcement agents raided six meatpacking plants on Tuesday, officials said it was because the workers were using stolen identities. In fact, as David Bacon reports , immigration agents wanted to send a message to unionized workplaces. They also wanted to send a message to Democrats: After six years in office, ICE's choice of this moment to begin their campaign is more than suspect. It is designed to force the new Democratic congressional majority to make a choice. The administration is confident that Democrats will endorse workplace raids in order to appear "tough on illegal immigration" in preparation for the 2008 presidential elections. In doing so, they will have to attack two of the major groups who produced the votes that changed Congress in November -- labor and Latinos. Read the whole thing here . --The Editors

    BLAME CONGRESS. Glenn Greenwald and Lyle Denniston have excellent analysis of the decision of District Court Judge James Robertson to dismiss the habeas corpus claim of Salim Ahmed Hamdan . Under the circumstances, the decision is actually about as good an outcome for opponents of arbitrary detentions as could be expected. Robertson held that Congress has not suspended the writ of habeas corpus for American citizens--it lacks the power to suspend the writ because there is not a n ongoing "rebellion or invasion." Admittedly, it's easier for courts to construe the statute more narrowly when doing so doesn't require ruling against the administration, but this is as least one reason for cautious optimism. Still, for the most part this decision is depressing; as Denniston notes, it is unlikely that many detainees will be able to take advantage of the inapplicability of the statute to American citizens, even assuming that other courts will construe the statute similarly. The key thing to...
  • WYDEN 3: COST...

    WYDEN 3: COST CONTAINMENT STRIKES BACK. I need to spend some more time reporting out the cost containment provisions on the Wyden plan, but since that appears the primary objection, let me go into the underlying strategy of the legislation for a moment: As I explained in my last post , the legislation seeks to tame the insurance industry by imposing community rating, thus ending the competition for healthy individuals and the race to price out the unhealthy. That has a secondary, and possibly greater, impact than simply ending price discrimination. Indeed, it's the foundation of the plan's cost containment strategy. You often hear that health insurance isn't a market. That's not true. It is a market, only the goods being sought are healthy individuals, and the efficiency gains are aimed at finding ever better methods for separating the well from the sick. The market works precisely as it's supposed to, creating an enormously effective conveyor for industry profits. What it doesn't do...

    SHOUT-OUT. Readers may recall the tech troubles we had a few weeks ago that shut down the blogs. While we managed to fix things enough to start back up and keep content flowing, we've had lingering issues on the back-end that have been a real headache for this small-staffed office lacking resources or much tech support. Now that the problems have actually been fixed, we'd be remiss in not giving a plug to EchoDitto , a member of whose crack staff found the database problems and made it all better with dispatch. Those folks really know what they're doing, and we thank 'em. --The Editors

    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 , 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. 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