• Book Club

    Over at TPM Cafe, Josh has had some cool threads with readers suggesting favorite books in a genre. I'm going to copy him. This week, finals end. When they end, I'm going on a week of vacation (but, if all goes well, you folks will have some sweet guest bloggers keeping you entertained) that, if I have my way, will be about as unpolitical as possible. With that in mind, what're your favorite nonpolitical nonfiction books? I'm talking quirky history books (though not epic, governments-and-wars history), sociology studies, biographies (nonpolitical ones, though), and so forth. To get things started, I've always loved Jeffrey Schwartz's The Mind and The Brain , but best recent read has to go to Jon Ronson's Them: Adventures With Extremists . Your turn. Incidentally, on the off chance this conversation gave you a burning desire to set me up for the Summer, my Amazon wish list is right this way .
  • Medicare For All

    I've been trying to decide whether or not to link to Krugman's column today. On the one hand, it's a nice restatement of the liberal position on health care. On the other, it's pretty simplistic -- you guys have heard this before. But it does inadvertently make a point that needs to be said louder. Some single payer advocates think the very idea is simple enough, that just bringing it out into the world will give us a comprehensible and broadly supportable strategy. Not so -- single payer is actually quite odd The idea of a government takeover in health care turns folks off, at which point we have to explain that no, the government isn't taking over health care, just all forms of health insurance, and no, that won't change health services, and no, nothing will be different in this wholly new structure where everything is funded differently and there are no more insurance companies. It's all quite counterintuitive. That's why Medicare-for-All is such a great banner. Medicare happens to...
  • Hillary Haters

    In one of the weirdest stories I've ever read, Matt Drudge is reporting that Ed Klein's upcoming, hatchet-job-to-end-all-hatchet-jobs alleges that Bill Clinton raped Hillary to conceive Chelsea. Huh. Putting aside the fact that Hillary was one of the most liberated women of her generation and would be about as likely to accept forcible assault as step out of a moving plane sans -parachute, this story is still weird. After all that's been written on Bill, on Hillary, on Billary, on their relationship, on their lack of a one has found this? I've got my doubts. In any case, this sort of thing is one of Hillary's great strengths. Ed Klein may be strenuously objecting to the term right-winger, but so long as he's going to publish weird screeds about the Clintons, that's where he'll end up. More to the point, this all sounds hysterical, over the top, insane. It'll be inhaled by a right hungry for evidence that Clinton is as bad or worse than they believe. It, and the other...
  • Pointer

    You guys should all check out Mnemosyne's Playground . She was one of the best commentors at Pandagon, and her blog is shaping up just as good.
  • Parochial Concerns

    I couldn't disagree more with Matt's casual acceptance of voucher schools as a way to increase funding for parochial schools. He seems to present it as an issue of choice -- this lets parents choose what sort of school to send their children to. But that's not exactly true, it's the subsidization of certain choices over others. How many Buddhist voucher schools are there? Jewish? Hindu? Muslim? Not that many I'd expect. If the government wants to make it avowed policy to support a buffet of religious schools, that's fine -- they can subsidize all manner of institutions and implement the transportation options that'd allow children to attend them. But insofar as vouchers mainly fund schools operated on the basis of one faith (and the many denominations within it), that's too close to state sponsored religion, and I can't accept it. This is not to say that we're dealing with an explicit discrimination against other faiths -- we're not, it's a numbers question. But even so, the...
  • Repeal McCain-Feingold!

    I have to agree with James Hamilton : it's time to repeal McCain-Feingold. I'd much rather have parties absorbing unlimited contributions than watch the funding get sucked up by unaccountable, unknowable 527's. Parties and campaigns can, at the least, be held accountable. 527's, on the other hand, are just hatchet men, called in for the dirty work and disavowed for the cameras. And while it's certainly true that legislation can correct this specifically (and indeed, similar bills have been introduced ), what, then, happens to 501(c)6 's? What happens to online speech? If we're going to do campaign finance reform, it has to be done right. Clean elections, federal funding, subsidized airtime. These halfway measures just make things worse, creating all manner of perverse workarounds and loopholes that ends in a more unaccountable, more vicious, more unhealthy public square. So thanks for dropping by, McCain-Feingold, you even did some good. Democrats, cut off from soft money, raised...
  • More on Clinton Hating

    In response to yesterday's post on Clinton hatred, Tim Lee writes in with a possible explanation: Clinton hatred started during the campaign. By the end of 1992, it was clear that Clinton was a draft dodging, pot smoking, womanizing, shameless liar. To conservatives, this a big deal, and Clinton made no particular attempt to hide or apologize for it. Now, liberals rightly point out that Bush is a draft dodging, coke-consuming liar as well. And they're right. However, that misunderstands the basis of conservative hatred. Conservatives aren't so much reacting to Clinton's specific actions as to the picture they believe it paints about his character. Bush has sold himself as a born-again Christian and a devout family man. Most of his indiscretions took place before he found Jesus and stopped drinking. Clinton's frequent bimbo eruptions and his smug non-denials of past misbehavior, in contrast, painted him as a self-indulgent, unrepentant child of the sixties. The rest of Lee's post is a...
  • The Chairman

    Matt makes a good point on Dean: Obviously, anyone in politics needs to pay some attention to what kind of press they get. Even the importance of this can be overstated, but the trap you really don't want to fall into is of caring whether or not this segment of media figures likes or respects you . Some Republicans (Chuck Hagel) play this game, but most quite wisely do not. Democrats are hampered in this respect because reporters and Democratic operatives tend to come from the same social class. But you don't want to treat reporters like their your friends, or the in-crowd from high school that might let you sit at the cool table. That strikes me as quite right. Moreover, it's an underappreciated truism that what the media says is not what the public hears. I've a feeling that the message coming through is that Democrats are now throwing punches at Republicans and the party has tired of being a bunch of wimps. Coming off Social Security and all the rest, that's exactly the right step...
  • Miniblog

    I'm getting back into using the miniblog, so make sure to take a look at it now and again. Lots of interesting stuff that I've no angle to comment on but should nevertheless be widely read.
  • DSM

    There's a new wrinkle in the Downing Street Memo saga, and Shakespeare's Sister has the scoop.