Archive

  • �Y TU, MEXICO?

    �Y TU, MEXICO? Over the last few years, Mexico has been rolling out a universal health care system focused on access to preventative care and free enrollment for the bottom income quintile. The results ? The number of cases of malaria have dropped by 60%, six times more people are receiving antiretroviral therapy, TB mortality has fallen by 30%, and Mexico is only one of seven countries on track to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015; the fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG4). The reforms have also led to a 17% reduction in the proportion of male teenagers who smoke, a 17% increase in the use of mammography, and a 32% increase in the number of pap smear tests over the past 5 years. Beyond preventative care, new data out today shows that childhood cancer mortality is plummeting as well. In addition, the Mexican government has vastly updated their health infrastructure, building 1,700 new facilities, enrolled 22 million residents in the plan, and is on track for universal...
  • CHARACTER COUNTS.

    CHARACTER COUNTS. Posted without comment. You may now release the hounds. --Charles P. Pierce
  • BELIEVABILITY. Folks...

    BELIEVABILITY. Folks may have vaguely noticed the sordid story of United Health Group CEO William McGuire trickling out over the past couple of days. In an age of obscene CEO pay, McGuire put every other executive to shame: At the end of 2005, his stock options were worth 1.8 billion dollars. Unfortunately, those options were backdated -- the dates were forged to begin at the lowest point for the stock, so the holdings would be worth more. And now everyone hates the guy. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare . What's so infuriating about McGuire's compensation package, however, wasn't the malfeasance that went into augmenting it, but the grotesque and inexplicable wealth it offered in the first place. A couple billion for a CEO beyond his salary? That must be some productivity. Possibly the best justification for the cash came compensation committee member Mary Mudlinger : "We're so lucky to have Bill," Ms. Mundinger, a longtime compensation-committee member, told the [ Wall Street Journal...
  • ONE-TWO PUNCH.

    ONE-TWO PUNCH. See, not all political campaign staffers are the somber, well-bearded, and amber-lit sages that "The West Wing" folks threw out there for our entertainment during the Santos - Vinick campaign. (Well-bearded, of course, except for Donna Moss , Valkyrie Wonk Queen Of the Great Lakes.) Sometimes, they're just, well, dopes. On a day in which convicted killer and international grifter Don King signed aboard Michael Steele 's foundering plague ship in Maryland, who was the campaign genius who came up with this endorsement , too? This is a one-two combination of such pure stupid that I'm beginning to believe all those theories about the Diebold machines. No serious political party could possibly believe it could win honestly doing stuff like this. --Charles P. Pierce
  • THE WAR OF STRATEGIC DEFERRALS.

    THE WAR OF STRATEGIC DEFERRALS. An interesting article by Warren Richey about whether the Supremes will "trim" the appalling Military Commissions Act. My guess, as Richey suggests, is that the Court will do pretty much nothing -- Justice Kennedy invited Congress to act, and it did. These kinds of interactions between courts and legislatures have long been a hobbyhorse of mine , and I was happy to see the always-excellent Dahlia Lithwick tackle the subject recently in the WaPo : Congress gives in to the temptation of passing bills that are of questionable constitutionality because it's easy and convenient. Political expediency seems to trump constitutional principle. The elected branches need never defy the popular will if the courts are available to do so instead. And those members of Congress who insist that the courts should stay out of Congress's business should recognize Congress for the enabler it has become. It's a two-way street: The courts work with what Congress sends them...
  • YOU'RE OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM: YEAH, YOU.

    YOU'RE OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM: YEAH, YOU. While I�m kvetching about regional politics, I may as well tell you I�m sick of the double standard that operates with respect to Democrats or liberals when it comes to the politics of opponent-framing. With impunity, sneering Republicans and conservatives can mock �northeastern liberals,� but duck and cover if you dare point the �out of touch� finger at southern conservatives. They are the real Americans, you see, and no amount of data will suffice to disprove the back-of-the-napkin Applebee�s analyses of the �Great Davids� ( Broder and Brooks , that is). Here�s just one fact from my book the national media will never report because, gripped as they are by conventional wisdom and too lazy to consider that they might be wrong, they won�t bother to take even five minutes to look it up: The partisan preferences of white northeastern voters are much more mainstream than that of white southeastern voters. The simplest way to demonstrate this is by...
  • AH, ELECTION SEASON....

    AH, ELECTION SEASON. Anyone wonder who sent out this charmer ? The state attorney general's office is investigating a letter received by some Southern California Hispanics that says it is a crime for immigrants to vote and tells them they could be jailed or deported if they go to the polls next month.[...] The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time." Of course, naturalized immigrants, of which there are millions, can legally vote. It's just that some folks don't want them to. -- Ezra Klein
  • HITCHENS CLIFFS NOTES.

    HITCHENS CLIFFS NOTES. At his other site, Rob offers a conveniently succinct summary version of Christopher Hitchens 's Slate piece on the "moral idiocy" of the Lancet study on Iraq. I don't pretend to have any inside knowledge, but it seems notable that Hitchens is the one discussing this new Lancet study for Slate and not the eminently more credible Fred Kaplan , who wrote skeptically of the 2004 Lancet study but perhaps has changed his mind since. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • EXCEPTIONS PROVING RULES.

    EXCEPTIONS PROVING RULES. With news that Republicans are pulling resources out of Ohio (and thereby imperiling incumbent Republican Senator Mike DeWine 's re-election), the national buzz is that Republicans have retreated to a three-state " firewall " in Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia in defense of their Senate majority. Strategists and electoral observers, Democrats especially, may now start claiming that the very fact that Republicans are having to defend seats in these states -- two of them southern states, no less -- confirms the genius of the idea of running everywhere with equal vigor, and that doing so has drained GOP resources to the point that, even if the Republicans hold these seats in the end, it's indirectly contributing to the broader Democratic cause. But this is crap. Looking at the two southern races, Tennessee is an open seat with a strong, smart, dynamic Democratic candidate running in a clear, Democratic tailwind cycle, and yet Harold Ford 's lead is still...
  • VERDICT: STILL HOPELESSLY...

    VERDICT: STILL HOPELESSLY ARBITRARY . The Canadian lawblogger Pithlord attempts to answer the (to me, completely unanswerable ) question of how advocates of criminalizing abortion can justify excluding women who obtain abortions entirely from criminal sanctions: *Criminalizing something much of a society thinks is permissible is often a mistake, even if that part of society is mistaken about the moral issue. That's basically my view of spanking. I might support criminalizing it if there was a social consensus against it, but I hardly want to drag ordinary parents away to jail when such a consensus doesn't exist. *Many women seeking abortions do so under conditions of economic or social duress. This would be even more true if abortion was legally unavailable. A person opposed to the legality of abortion could regard this as mitigative, even if not justificatory. The first point is a good one, but it's an argument against criminalizing abortion , period, not against excluding women but...

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