Archive

  • The "Social Security and Medicare" Syndrome

    Many of the stories on the reduction in the 2006 budget deficit have correctly focused on the fact that the long-term deficit picture still looks pretty awful. However, they have badly misled readers about the reason for the deficit problem. The standard line is that "Social Security and Medicare" costs will explode as the baby boomers retire (e.g. this NYT piece ). This is incredibly misleading. Social Security costs will rise modestly -- the projected increase in SS measured as a share of GDP from 2005 to 2030 is less than the increase from 1960 to 1985. The real culprit in the story, as every serious reporter knows, is Medicare. And the reason that Medicare costs are projected to explode is that the U.S. health care system is broken. In other words, the deficit stories should be talking about how the exploding cost of the U.S. health care health system will devastate the budget and the economy. People should demand that the reporters get this simple point right and stop telling...
  • NYT MISSES THE...

    NYT MISSES THE POINT. Today's New York Times profile of Keith Olbermann as the great hope of MSNBC misses the most interesting aspect of his ascent. It focuses entirely on the humorous side of Olbermann's beef with Bill O'Reilly and the accusation that Olbermann is picking fights with O'Reilly to boost his ratings. The article never considers whether Olbermann may actually be going after O'Reilly's statements because Olbermann is legitimately offended by statements like this: [O'Reilly's] declaration last year (in jest, Mr. O�Reilly said) that a resolution passed in San Francisco to ban military recruitment in schools was so un-American that he was inviting Al Qaeda to blow up Coit Tower. Can you imagine how O'Reilly would react if a liberal pundit endorsed terrorist attacks on South Dakota for passing their draconian abortion ban? Nor does The Times even consider that Olbermann's increasing popularity is not merely a result of his provocative criticism of O'Reilly, but stems from the...
  • A REFRESHER FOR...

    A REFRESHER FOR SNOW. Kevin Drum already beat the facts out of this little nugget on his blog, but Tony Snow 's performance at his press briefing on Monday deserves another couple of kicks. Snow made a sneering little reference to Bill Clinton 's approaches to the "Dear Leader." Well, there were those of us who were at the delegate breakfast when then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told the world that the President looks upon the people of this country the way that he would look upon 10-year-old children who need protection. Here's a link for Tony to follow. Given this, the spokesman for the ongoing cargo cult in the White House ought not to be so cavalier regarding world leaders who infantilize their subjects. Leave the snarkitude to the professionals, Anchor Boy. --Charles P. Pierce
  • FRANK ZEIDLER, R.I.P....

    FRANK ZEIDLER, R.I.P. An awful lot of my personal politics were formed in Wisconsin and not just because that's where I went to college. I grew fascinated by a cultural mix that could produce both Battlin' Bob and Tailgunner Joe . The legacy of the LaFollette progressive wing was what won my heart, and one of the best evenings I can recall in Milwaukee was spent in the home of one of my professors, listening to Frank P. Zeidler talk about government. He is the last Socialist who ever will be mayor of an American city, and he talked about politics in a kind of good-government sense that had a lot more to do with clean water and good schools than it did the creation of the industrial bourgeoisie. His whole career -- and that of his family -- was a tribute to an open and diverse political culture that resisted easy labels and glib stupidity. Anyway, Frank died last week, and you can read more about him here . And you should. -- Charles P. Pierce
  • INCIDENTALLY. . ....

    INCIDENTALLY. . . . No day is complete without at least one Corner-centric post, so cast your eyes hither where Michael Ledeen is musing on the merits of killing people rather than taking them prisoner and then after three grafs of that tosses off this aside, "But one thing I do know: I would insist that my soldiers have the right of 'hot pursuit' into Iran and Syria, and I would order my armed forces to attack the terrorist training camps in those countries. And I'm quite sure I'd go after the terrorist training camps in Pakistan, too." He'd launch wars with three new countries? What's going to happen after lunch? Does the rest of the National Review gang endorse this plan? --Matthew Yglesias
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: A CANTERBURY TALE. The Anglican Archbishop has proposed a schism in his own Church following the ascension of a female, pro-gay bishop to the top leadership post in the U.S. Episcopal Church. Adele Stan describes the brewing fight and reaches some stark conclusions about the fate of the religious left in America: The dream of a progressive religious movement that could match the political potency of the Christian right was "always dubious," argues Stan, "and the recent turmoil within the Episcopal Church should put it to rest for good." --The Editors
  • PLANNED 'IMPROVEMENTS' AT...

    PLANNED 'IMPROVEMENTS' AT RFK. From today's Washington Post sports section: "We're doing what has to be done," Kasten said. He said that also includes planting flowers and improving the landscaping outside the stadium, steam-cleaning the concourses, adding banners outside the ballpark and staging races between innings around the perimeter of the field by costume characters resembling former U.S. presidents. Zachary Taylor vs. Chester Alan Arthur : That oughta be a good one. --Harvey Meyerson ( Harold 's cousin, Washington resident, devout baselball fan)
  • UNITER, OR ANOTHER...

    UNITER, OR ANOTHER DIVIDER? There�s a good column from E.J. Dionne today handicapping the coming wars in the Republican Party. Dionne surveys the GOP's 2008 landscape and notices that there are a series of real choices staking out territory, each of which would portend something radically different for the Republican Party's future. I agree with him particularly in his assessment of Mitt Romney , who Dionne writes is "his party's most interesting new voice, [and] could be expected to run in part as a problem-solver who worked with Democrats in Massachusetts for a bipartisan approach to health care. This would mean arguing for a break from the bitter partisanship of the Bush Era." That is how Romney will run. And, in doing, he'll shift the terms of the health care debate left, forcing his opponents to counter with similarly productive and substantial proposals. But remember, George W. Bush ran as a uniter, not a divider, too, and we saw how that turned out. So it's worth not being too...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JUST ADD MISSILE DEFENSE. Matt ruminates on the loony and seemingly indestructable id�e fixe of right-wing security policy: a non-functioning shield against non-existent missiles. What's significant -- and scary -- is that conservatives really seem to believe in this thing: Ballistic missile defense is, in short, not just a waste of money, but the tip of a wildly misguided intellectual iceberg -- a whole worldview that radically misconceives the nature of America�s interests and the contemporary international situation. The conservative movement is committed to an outlook that revolves around impractical solutions to unreal problems, and missile defense is just one more example to add to a pile including the invasion of Iraq, the decision to spurn Iranian peace overtures, and the effort to define the (necessary) struggle against al-Qaeda in the broadest and most apocalyptic terms available. Read the whole thing . --The Editors
  • GOOD NEWS. The...

    GOOD NEWS. The Bush administration plans to start following the Geneva Conventions . I expect conservatives everywhere who've written on this in the past to now denounce the President for his evil, appeasing ways. Today's laugh-or-cry moment: "Unlike four years ago . . . the debate now seems certain to include the views of the military�s most senior uniformed lawyers, whose objections were brushed aside earlier." Asking the military's lawyers about the legality of military policies -- what a crazy idea. I can't believe it only took them four years to come up with it. UPDATE: Hm . . . Spencer Ackerman isn't buying it -- the term "sick joke" comes up. Apparently, the CIA will still be free to abuse prisoners as it sees fit in sites all the world 'round. --Matthew Yglesias

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