HI, I'M AMERICA, AND I'VE BEEN AN EXPANSIONIST POWER FOR 230 YEARS. In contrast to Matt, this Robert Kaganpiece in The New Republic didn't bug me much at all. The more folks -- particularly on the right -- who dispense with the fiction that the U.S. was ever anything but an expansionist power, the better. America has convinced itself that we've always been a shy, sensitive, introspective nation only occasionally and reluctantly roused to roughhouse play.
DEAF EAR. In an aggressive demonstration of their establishmentarian orientation, The Washington Post's comprehensive coverage of the current controversy at Gallaudet University (the nation's only liberal arts college for the deaf), on both the news and opinion pages, has clearly skewed towards the school administration. The issue, for those who haven't been following, is that a clear majority of the Gallaudet student body, and many faculty staff and alumni, oppose the selection of university's new president, Jane K. Fernandes, and the manner in which she was chosen.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS. My dad always said being an adult means admitting your errors and apologizing when those mistakes have harmed others. Well, I�ve been wrong about a couple of things on Tapped, so it�s time to come clean.
In a report on a congressional race this morning, NPR mentioned the candidates views on the estate tax. It noted that Republican incumbant was opposed to "taxation without respiration [good line]." It then reported that the Democratic candidate claims that the estate tax did not harm small farms and businesses because it has exemptions of $3-$4 million.
Well, this was not just a claim by the Democratic candidate, it also happens to be an accurate description of the law. There is a large exemption (I'll have to check the latest number -- it rises through time under the current law), with special provisions to allow any tax owed on a family farm or business to paid out over 10 years without penalty.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. As this wide-ranging interview with Bob Woodward illustrates, John Kerry would have made a very, very good president. Much better than he seemed during the campaign, possibly even finer than his performance suggested at the debates. It's a trite truth and a crying shame that our system encourages the qualities that make a very good campaigner rather than a fine leader. It's into that chasm that Kerry falls.
HEALTH CARE ATTITUDES. Kaiser, ABC, and USA Todayjust released a pretty expansive poll documenting the country's opinions on health care. The nickel version is that your countrymen are mostly liberal, deeply confused, and more likely to loathe the status quo than clearly conceptualize potential alternatives. Respondents said it was the third most important issue in the country, behind Iraq and the economy, but before immigration, gas prices, or terrorism. That's probably because opinions towards the system are so overwhelmingly negative: 80 percent are dissatisfied with the cost of health care in the country, and 54 percent are dissatisfied with the quality.
WHAT THEY REPORT: WHO DECIDES? The Associated Press is reporting that a McClatchy newspaper in Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader, is returning to the Center for Pubic Integrity Center for Investigative Reporting* a $37,500 grant the foundation made to the paper to finance a series of stories on the fundraising operation of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who famously opposed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation.
WHO CARES WHAT ANTHONY WOULD DO?Amanda Marcotte calls our attention to this excellent piece by Stacy Schiff, who debunks claims that Susan B. Anthony was a supporter of abortion bans. I find it particularly interesting because Anthony was able to ask questions about whether abortion bans actually accomplish anything even if you agree with the end of inhibiting abortions, a distinction which eludes most contemporary opponents of abortion rights.
USA Today had an article this morning on rising U.S. health care costs. It never mentions the fact that the United States pays more than twice as much per person as the average among other wealthy countries, yet has shorter life expectancies. I guess we can attribute this to protectionism. There are enormous potential gains from trade in the health care sector (if we can't do it right here, why not let people go elsewhere), but the media is so protectionist, it won't even allow the possibility to be discussed.
Today's NYT has a column reporting on the redistribution from wages to profits that has taken place in most wealthy countries over the last quarter century. While the piece is useful in calling attention to an important trend, it is somewhat sloppy because it fails to adjust for cyclical effects.