Archive

  • Saturday Book Club

    Slight change to this. Saturday I'm just going to do books, both fiction and non. Sunday I'll do music. Rules remain the same: I'll put down what I'm reading/listening to, comment on it, and you'll do the same. Victor S. Navasky's A Matter of Opinion : Navasky, the longtime publisher of The Nation, has written his memoirs on the magazine industry. I thought the book would be a bit broader than it is -- this is really about the nuts and bolts of running a journal of opinion -- but it's still an interesting read. Navasky's engaging, his early run-ins with folks who later became great are entertaining, and for an aspiring magazine writer like myself, the technical stuff is fairly interesting. But don't go here looking for a political memoir; it's not one. It has reminded me to read Charlie Peters Tilting at Windmills , though. Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down and The Polysyllabic Spree : I think I've blown through the guy's whole ouvre in the last two weeks. High Fidelity , About a Boy ,...
  • Why'd the Big Dog "Sell Out"?

    By Nick Beaudrot As a sidebar to the conversation on med mal, Ezra also asks the important question, "why is Bill Clinton parroting right-waing talking points"? It's an interesting puzzle. My best guess is that Clinton's been hanging out a fair bit with Bob Rubin, who is a big fan of tort reform (of course, he's also a big fan of greater social spending and poverty reduction, so the two sort of balance each other out. That, and he was The Man in the Clinton White House). And as political advice, he does have a point. It's much easier to agree with the public that malpractice costs are a problem than it is to try and convince them that they're not. And there are plenty of ways to address malpractice suits without capping payouts at a tiny sum; the John Edwards "three strikes and you're out" proposal, Clinton's "national standards" that would raise the presumption of innocence, and creating pre-trial hearings would all do something about the problem. Given that Democrats seem compelled...
  • Malpractice 'Round the World

    By Nick Beaudrot This is Nick Beaudrot of Electoral Math , here. I'll be helping out Ezra this weekend, providing y'all with a numerical look into the current state of the political world. Which is good timing on Ezra's part, since he just brought up the subject of malpractice costs and the insurance industry's bogus claims that costs are on the rise; a few months ago, I took a look at the question of just how far out of line US malpractice costs are by comparing the medicolegal systems of several countries: France , Britain , Germany , Japan , and Sweden .
  • Triangulators?

    With the DLC conversation in the post below raging forward, I think this is one misconception widespread enough it that its correction should be bumped up to the front page: The DLC has nothing to do with triangulation . They don't. Not at all. Triangulation was entirely Dick Morris's word, idea, and concept. Morris, a mostly-Republican operative, thought Clinton could take the good from both sides, drop the bad, and thus transcend partisan differences. So the triangle, with bottom point "a" being one party, bottom point "b" being the other, and the top point being the President rising above both. That's not what the DLC wants. They believe they've created a new ideological structure, similar to how neoconservatism has brought new foreign policy ideas to the Republicans party, they want to bring new domestic ideas (and occasionally foreign) to the Democratic party. They want a party that's more market-based, more concentrated on growth, more deficit-centered, more concerned with...
  • Who's Divisive?

    Kos says : As we strive to find our core convictions, and define who we are and what we stand for as a party, the DLC is one of the roadblocks -- a divisive, fundamentalist organization willing to sell any and all progressive ideals to the altar of big business. And anything that threatens their dominance has met with their ire -- be it Howard Dean, the netroots, or regular people suddenly interested in transforming and reforming the Democratic Party. And then, next paragraph, Kos says: Democrats have a choice to make -- stand with the DLC, or stand with the grassroots and netroots of the party. It's interesting that Democrats with a strong sense of self -- those who truly know what they stand for and are unafraid to say so -- are those least interested in the DLC's snake oil. If you want to blast the DLC for being a divisive organization that lashes out towards those they don't like, then you better be an inclusive organization that respects differences and allows for tents including...
  • My That's a Big Nose You Have, Senator Schumer

    Methinks subtlety is not The National Review's strong point .
  • Malpractice in Practice

    Reporting from the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival, Kurt Andersen mentions this portion of Bill Clinton's speech: He said the Democrats are wrong to deny that malpractice suits don’t drive up medical costs. No, they're not. Generally, this sort of high-minded concession to conservative talking points gets ignored, or argued via anecdote. Happily, we don't have to do that anymore. The latest issue of Health Affairs published a study assessing the cost of malpractice premiums, litigation, and payments, in addition to potential expenditures from so-called "defensive medicine". The verdict? This stuff doesn't matter . I'm going to bullet point through the study because, to be honest, this stuff pops up too often for the evidence against it to languish in policy journals. • Are More Malpractice Claims Filed in the US? Yes. The authors compared domestic suits with those in Canada, Australia and Britain (all countries with a similar, British-based legal system), and it turns out litigious...
  • Maniacs

    Well now that's fucking scary.
  • Larry Lessig on ER

    Electronic records are one of those everybody-agrees ideas that sane people are begging doctors to implement and medical offices are dragging their feet on. Medicare, though, is trying to change that. With electronic files, patient records are not stuck on pieces of paper in endless files, but are on a screen at the touch of a key. The computers alert doctors to do medical tests and avert errors by warning when they write a prescription for the wrong drug or the wrong dose. Patients can often see their own files and even make their own appointments, online, from their homes. But most doctors have balked. The systems cost tens of thousands of dollars, and doctors worry that the companies selling them and providing support will go out of business. Many use computers to file health insurance claims, but only 20 percent to 25 percent of the nation's 650,000 licensed doctors outside the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs are using electronic patient records. Now, however,...
  • The Food Police

    Julie Powell has an op-ed today that I, as a Californian who frequents Whole Foods and buys organic, completely agree with: What makes the snobbery of the organic movement more insidious is that it equates privilege not only with good taste, but also with good ethics. Eat wild Brazil nuts and save the rainforest. Buy more expensive organic fruit for your children and fight the national epidemic of childhood obesity. Support a local farmer and give economic power to responsible stewards of sustainable agriculture. There's nothing wrong with any of these choices, but they do require time and money. When you wed money to decency, you come perilously close to equating penury with immorality. The milk at Whole Foods is hormone-free; the milk at Western Beef is presumably full of the stuff - and substantially less expensive. The chicken at Whole Foods is organic and cage-free; the chicken at Western Beef is not. Is the woman who buys her children's food at the place where they take her food...

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