Archive

  • Who Needs Big Government?

    Kevin has a chronology of FEMA's treatment, privatization, and downsizing over the past few years that's really very damning. Government has uses and cutting it has consequences. Cutting FEMA, though there may be no disasters at the moment, can aid and abet crises in the long-run. Ejecting the ill from the rolls of Medicaid, as the governor of Tennessee is, will leave catastrophically sick patients ignoring their conditions until they explode into something that'll cost far more in the long-run. Government has a purpose. When you cut it, you handicap its ability to fulfill that purpose. Too often, the right ignores an agency's mission and instead focuses on its simple existence as another arm of government, another place for bureaucracy. But when you axe that, you better have a parallel, similarly effective organization ready to pick up the slack. This time, we didn't. This time, we needed big government. And this time, people suffered because ideology triumphed. Could FEMA have...
  • Not Charity

    John Cole gets this perfectly, totally right : One quick thing- these are charity organizations, but I don’t think of this as charity in the sense of mere benevolence. This is an obligation we have to help. This is a necessity. Right now, the donations page has just barely broken $17,000. We're going for a million ! Please, if you can possibly afford it, help out.
  • No On Phil

    Bob Herbert, in a column today, says all that should ever need to be said about Phil Bredesden's presidential ambitions: The word in Tennessee is that Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, has presidential aspirations. I find that interesting. Perhaps he can run on the success he's had throwing sick people off of Medicaid. Thanks to Mr. Bredesen's leadership, Tennessee is dumping nearly 200,000 residents, some of them desperately ill, from TennCare, the state's Medicaid program. Cindy Mann, a research professor and executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, concisely characterized the governor's efforts: "What he's decided to do is save health care costs simply by not giving people health care." How's that for a solution to a tough public policy issue? What is happening in Tennessee is profoundly cruel. The people being removed from the rolls - some of them disabled, some suffering from such serious illnesses as cancer and...
  • The Blame Game

    Matt's got a post on What Went Wrong in New Orleans that's very much worth reading. In short, it wasn't that the levees and procedures didn't work as they were supposed to, it's that they weren't supposed to work in these sorts of conditions. Judged that way, they functioned exactly as we expected they would. That New Orleans was left unprepared for a Category 4/5 hurricane is criminal, not least because everyone from local papers to FEMA experts had been sounding that alarm for awhile. But on that, there's much blame to go around, and it lands just as heavily on Louisiana's Democratic state government as Bush's FEMA cuts. Maybe heavier. This is not something to politicize. It's really not. As the days drag by, we'll uncover a slew of administrative and economic failures, some negligent, some short-sighted, some idiotic, some accidental. The blame, I promise, will spread wide. Short-sighted prioritization will likely assume a starring role as a heavily-muscled hurricane seemed less...
  • Underestimating God

    Man, Falwell must be pissed! Generally, the first post-tragedy faux-pas is reserved for him. Rumor has it that once the death toll reaches 100, he immediately retires to the study with a blood-filled chalice and a biography of Genghis Khan to craft his statement. Remember this post-9/11 gem?: JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this. PAT ROBERTSON: Well, yes. JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way--all of them who have tried to secularize America--I...
  • New Orleans

    Josh Levin has written an exquisite elegy for New Orleans, the city he grew up in. You need to read it . You also need to donate. I'd like to do a pledge drive here on the site -- anyone know which charities will let me do that?
  • Another One Bites the Dust

    You know, the most surprising thing about this is that it took so long: The top Food and Drug Administration official in charge of women's health issues resigned today in protest against the agency's decision last week to further delay a final ruling on the whether the emergency contraceptive "morning-after pill" should be made more easily accessible. Susan F. Wood, assistant FDA commissioner for women's health and director of the Office of Women's Health, said she was leaving her position after five years because Commissioner Lester Crawford's decision on Friday amounted to unwarranted interference in agency decision-making. "I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overuled," she wrote in an e-mail to her staff and FDA colleagues. This is not a good work situation for professionals. As Chris Mooney lovingly documents in his impressive new book, "The Republican War on...
  • The American Pie President

    Nancy Nall takes the point I was circuitously making in my metaphor-heavy post (hey -- sometimes you just feel like using some imagery!) last night and shortens it into a two paragraph indictment. Well done! And her question stands: why would Bush's handlers, on the day when new Orleans was experiencing perhaps the greatest tragedy in American history, let him be photographed goofing around with a guitar? Why would they let him out at all? If he needed to leave his Ranch Set, they should've forced him to go to a Church Set (it's right across the lot, just take a left when you reach Karl Rove's trailer). Very weird. Unless Bush's handlers are themselves being handled. Digby's made this point before, but more and more, I'm think it's right. Second term Bush sees himself as a political war god. He is invincible. A senior. Class president. He already got accepted to college (thanks, dad!). He's the big man on campus. Nobody's going to expel him. Hell, nobody's going to discipline him! He...
  • Stampede

    This is the state of fear Iraqis live in now : Rumors of a suicide bomber helped set off a stampede Wednesday among tens of thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims on a Tigris River bridge, killing at least 637 people as panicked worshipers hurled themselves off the bridge or trampled others underfoot, Iraqi authorities and survivors said. [...] "The people when they were at the bridge, more than one person started yelling, and saying, 'The bridge will fall down, the bridge will explode,' " said Khalid Fadhil, a goldsmith who witnessed the stampede. "So the people started running in panic, pushing each other, trying to run away. Some of the people fell down, and the people stepped on them. The others threw themselves off the bridge, into the river."
  • Government By Babes

    The LA Times throws a roundhouse of an editorial at John Bolton's first weeks fucking up the UN on the job. The consensus? Getting things done means gumming things up. The way to reduce bureaucracy is to paralyze it in proposed amendments. The way to encourage reform is to derail the process. Now if that don't just tug on your mustache hairs! But Bolton's small fries, always has been. Appointing that walrus Ambassador to the United Nations was the Bush administration symbolically ascending to the top of Mt. International Community and pushing a shopping cart full of crap down it. What falls out is what they put in. Blaming Bolton is like condemning the shopping cart. It was the kids who loaded it up with arrogance, hypocrisy, self-contradiction, incompetence, ineffectiveness, and ignorance before sending it careening down the incline. They deserve the blame. But will they get it? No. They never do. The Bush administration is the Enron of political organizations. A teetering pile of...

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