• Hillary the Leader

    I'm sorta baffled by the triumphalism emanating from Hillary Clinton's pollsters. Insisting then repeating that she's seen as more of a leader in the Democratic Party than her husband? Well...of course she is. Her husband isn't part of the party anymore. He, like all ex-presidents, has ascended to a higher realm -- he's a national leader, not a leading Democrat. If you asked me to name the 20 folks helming the party, he wouldn't even appear on the list. Hillary would. And that's her problem. After multiple decades in the public eye, she's not been able to loose the surly bonds of partisan fighting and become a national leader. Her husband did, and so has John McCain, her likely opponent. As recent polls on them show, Hillary has a stronger floor but a lower ceiling. McCain isn't standing on as firm a foundation but neither is he subject to such oppressive limits. And, frankly, I'd prefer to be the candidate able to grow rather than the one unlikely to shrink.
  • Klein Awards

    Koufax awards are up and you guys should all go vote and do your thing. I want to use the opportunity, though, to hand out a couple awards of my own and give you guys an opportunity to add some terrific new links to your list. And I even kept the list short so you'd actually use it: Most Deserving of Wider Recognition: Liberalism Without Cynicism . Reading Laura tends to be the most infuriating moment of my day. I've been blogging longer than her, I'm a professional writer -- and yet her stuff is orders of magnitude better than mine. Smarter, more gracefully composed, more genially put. I hate her. But, through the red mists of my rage, I can recognize that she's the shiniest hidden gem in the blogosphere, and if you're not reading her regularly and obsessively, you're making a huge mistake. Best New Blog : Battlepanda . Angelica is my favorite kind of blogger, the amateur wonk. Since she's not yet gone pro and been co-opted by an organization or specialization, her curiosity ranges...
  • Link of the Day

    Health Wonk Review . I, again, forgot to get a submission in, so just pretend my piece on Canada below is my entry. But go read the round-up -- good stuff goes there.
  • Against CanadaCare

    As Matt alludes to here , international comparisons are a little tricky. But he's wrong to defend Canada's health care system. Now, it is true that Americans spend way more on health care, per capita, than other countries do. Taking the Canada example, our neighbors up north spend $2,535 per citizen. We spend $4,631. And the difference isn't in utilization: Americans pay much more for the same services as other countries do (the importance of this point, by the way, cannot be overstated, it's the primary reason our health care costs so much. Countries that bargain as a whole get far lower prices. It's exactly what Wal-Mart does. America, by contrast, has a bunch of mom-and-pop stores doing health care purchasing, and we pay the premiums because, in that system, suppliers have all the power). Presumably, given Canada's lower prices, if they wanted to match our spending and sink in another $1,900 or so per citizen, they could buy a lot more MRI machines, and probably make hospital food...
  • Link of the Day

    Leif Wellington Haas on universal health care . I've been entering this discussion at a number of waypoints that haven't really allowed for a full explication of my views, but suffice to say I go with a couple axioms: • The principle of universal coverage must either be built-in or planned for; • There must be private involvement (I'm actually for a multipayer system a la France, not a textbook single payer, like Canada, but I tend to use the terminology "single-payer" to denote UHC with heavy government involvement. I should probably stop.); • It must be simple to explain. That's why it must be presented without apology and constructed without preemptive compromise. Once you have a sellable platform, you can try to win over the public. Once you have the public, the stakeholders can demand modification. But you don't start out with a complicated, easily demonized plan in order to seek instant assent that'll never appear. That's it, and I've found no better expansion of the view than...
  • Protecting The Anti-Roe Majority

    I'm not precisely sure why NARAL wants to destroy their organization's good name, but after endorsing Chafee (who subsequently voted for cloture -- and thus effectively guaranteed confirmation -- on Alito), it now looks like Kate Michelman, the organization's past-president, is thinking about guaranteeing Santorum's reelection. Although Michelman said in an interview with Monday she had not yet made up her mind about running, she reported that her colleagues in the abortion rights movement are urging her to get in the race so that she could offer a pro-Roe alternative to the two anti-Roe candidates, Santorum and Casey. Michelman is conferring with Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman and other strategists and will make her decision in the next two weeks. It's not that I don't see why Michelman and others are pissed off at Casey's candidacy. I do. But the fact of it is, a single senator can do virtually no damage to Roe , while a Democratic Senate can, and will, do much to...
  • List For Me But None For Thee

    I think Oliver Willis gets this exactly wrong: The lists the party has - and especially the state parties - are legendarily woeful, and if it takes a group who’s sole reason for being is a good, clean voter list - it helps all around. The goal here is electing people, not power plays. Right, and the end result will be a power play, not a voter list. Harold Ickes, running a private, for-profit corporation controlling the database, will have full control over who can use it and when. And Ickes is not a party-builder: he's a Clintonista, with deep institutional ties to certain candidates and long-standing rivalries with other camps, particularly Howard Dean's coterie at the DNC. The reason you want the party to control the list is so everyone can use it. The reason Ickes is doing it privately is so that some can't. And while Willis claims to have inside information proving this all on the up-and-up, I'm going to have to see or hear some of it before I call the quacking, waddling...
  • Bad News For Java Drinkers

    Apparently, for 54 percent of the population, a couple cups of coffee daily increases your likelihood of heart attack by a third. The key is a gene, CY1A2, which we all have two copies of. A bit over half of us, though, have a mutated form that impedes caffeine metabolization. If you've got the mutation, a couple cups a day begins playing havoc with your heart. This isn't terribly surprising: caffeine constricts blood vessels, screwing with their normal functioning. It also, for reasons that are not well understood, increases the rate of harmless heart palpitations among susceptible portions of the populace (these are the skipped beats -- which are actually double-beats -- you always hear about, PVC's and PAC's). As for me, I almost certainly have this mutation. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I've no tolerance for the stuff, but a single cup in the morning will have me buzzing in the evening. Lucky thing, then, that I never got into it in the first place.
  • Editorial of the Day

    The New York Times makes all the right arguments against the AT&T/BellSouth merger: One of the pillars of the argument for letting AT&T and BellSouth merge is the strength of the Internet telephony companies, which compete with them in offering phone services. Yet once the bigger and better AT&T had approval from Washington, what incentive would it have to allow competition with its phone services in its newly expanded market? None. Internet service providers like AT&T are already hoping to create a tiered system, adjusting the speed of a connection to a Web site and its content according to how much the company pays. They want to be paid not only by their subscribers, but also by the companies supplying the Web site material, especially for large files like music and video clips. Right now there's no data discrimination. That system has been a runaway success, but the urge to squeeze out a little more money has begun to endanger it. The chief executive of AT&T,...
  • The Deserving Sick

    Kate's got a great take on Miracle Workers , a show that's both the most charitable thing on television and entertainment's most poignant window into all that's wrong with our society. Meanwhile, I've gotten really into Scrubs. Cause I'm intellectual like that.