• Fun With Linking

    This debate between Katha Pollitt and Will Saletan on abortion is about the best thing I've ever read on the subject. Later, when I have more energy, I'll engage. Right now, I need to bang out a TPM Cafe post and hit the gym. Man. Three blogs.
  • Quote of the Day: Diminished Presidency Edition

    Ryan Lizza : we witnessed the death of the great-man theory of Bush. The Bush presidency, in the minds of its most fervent supporters, has been built on the idea that Bush is a visionary with bold ideas that he forcefully pushes even when they sacrifice his own popularity. But the bold agenda is gone. His "addicted to oil" line will garner lots of headlines, but his actual oil-independence plan is so modest--tens of millions of dollars in a two trillion dollar annual budget--that it is barely worth mentioning. Instead of re-arguing the case for his Social Security plan, he called for another Social Security commission. The much-hyped health care proposals were mentioned in passing. His fancy American Competitiveness Initiative--a research and development tax credit and more money for math and science--seems reasonable but forgettable.
  • Why The Gas Tax?

    Since I'm both in favor of increased taxation and worried about oil usage, it's tricky for me to always be arguing against the gas tax, but nevertheless : The gas tax is a user fee. Drive more, pay more. Drive a heavy gas guzzler which creates more road wear, pay more. Drive in congested hours when gas mileage is low, pay more. So the gas tax encourages efficiency and environmentally-friendly. Reduce your driving, drive a smaller car, use public transit, avoid peak hours, and you pay less. It's not quite so easy. Let's say I never drive. I have an allergy to cars. I live two blocks from my office. But I purchase products. I shop. I work for a company that distributes a good. I'm still benefitting from a national highway infrastructure, and yet I'm not paying a cent. When the subject is roads, "user" isn't quite so easily defined. What continually concerns me about these proposals is that they treat driving as optional. When you tax, say, alcohol, and argue that the user can avoid it...
  • Link of the Day; Damn, Dirty, Isolationists

    Suzanne Nossel takes on Bush's weird, repeated assaults of isolationists. For the record, it's worth saying that the isolationists used to be Republicans and, most recently, they used to be Bush. The highest profile isolationist today is Pat Buchanan who, as I remember, hasn't won any Democratic primaries in the past decade or two...
  • Female Soldiers Dehydrating Themselves to Avoid Rape

    Are you fucking kidding me?
  • The "Where's The Beef?" Speech

    So there was some speech or something, right? Yeah. Truth is, I've virtually forgotten it. And that's after sitting in front of a room of people, wired to a live radio feed , heckling it in real time. Problem was, there wasn't much to heckle. Wasn't much to say. You can't add condiments if the cook doesn't first lay down the beef, and this speech was a "where's the beef?' moment. Where was my health care gottdammerung? I got my patriotism questioned, sure, but where was the insinuation of treason? Tonight's McCarthyism was more a pathetic plea for agreement and complicity than a brutal feint towards fascistic rhetoric. I'm glad we're going to do some work on cellulosic ethanol, but "clean coal" is like "renewable oil," it's the same old troubled resource, just now with a lying adjective tacked on to the front. Entitlement growth is going to create massive deficits, which is why we need to further blow a hole in our budget by locking in the tax cuts? There was a real sense that the guy...
  • Link of the Day: Blogging Jumps the Shark Edition

    Exactly how's this going to work?
  • Three Million HSA Users Can Be Wrong

    I really don't know what Kevin's concerned about here : there are plenty of proposals Bush could make that would be pretty popular among people who already use HSAs. For example: increasing the contribution limit; expanding the range of services covered by HSAs to include things like hearing aids and maternity care (which isn't covered by many plans); allowing money to be withdrawn for nonmedical purposes after age 65 (or even better, 55); and so forth. My point here is mainly a political one. Fighting HSAs on philosophical grounds is one thing, but people who already use them would be pretty pleased to see some concrete, money-saving improvements to HSAs — and wouldn't much care about their abstract virtues or defects. If we're going to fight the HSA-ization of healthcare, we'd better be prepared to be on the opposite side of some motherhood and apple pie proposals from the White House that might sound pretty good to current users. There are -- top estimate -- 3 million users. 1...
  • Bush and Polls

    In advance of Bush's State of the Union, this cautionary from John Cole strikes me as important: Can I ask you commenters a favor? Quit citing poll after poll after poll of Bush’s approval ratings. They suck. They are historically low. I will concede they are probably going to stay that way, barring a miracle. So until they change dramatically, quit citing them. Why? Because they DO NOT MATTER. This administration CLEARLY does not give two hoots in hell about poll numbers. They have both houses of Congress (and, barring a total disaster, will retain them in 2006), they have the White House, they just rammed through two very conservative Supreme Court Justices, they are filling the State Department and the CIA and every agency with young conservative political appointees, and they are simply having their way with the government and the country. Bush and Cheney and Rove do not care about the poll numbers. If they did, they would change their behavior and do all sorts of popular little...
  • Link of the Day: Hard Truths Edition

    Why intelligently rationing health care is the worst system -- except for all the others. And while reading, keep in mind that we already ration health care, we just do it by income, wealth, and region. Moreover, we overtreat, particularly at the end of life, to a truly remarkable degree, one that has little or no impact on mortality rates or longevity.