Archive

  • The Politics of Withdrawal

    Armando and Jerome are talking about the politics of withdrawal, which is about where my mind has settled recently. For all the reasons I've laid out, and for all the better reasons others have laid out, I'm firmly convinced that our continued, indefinite presence in the country achieves absolutely nothing. On the other hand, I'm similarly certain that an inept or overly fatalist call for withdrawal will be marketed to the American people as retreat, and retreat is not the sort of sentiment that wins elections. Yeah, that's craven, but once you know what you want to do, you have to think about how it sells. Americans aren't particularly pleased with the war, but nor are they ever willing to vote for a loss. If Democrats stand on one side of the stage and talk about our unwinnable quagmire and Republicans stand on the other and explain how, yes, mistakes were made, but we can still finish the job, and General Know-Nothing says we're just a few months from completion and can't turn away...
  • The Great White Hope

    How bad is our health care system? Bad enough that Canadian doctors, who get paid twice as much if they practice here rather than there, are fleeing back north. Fantastic.
  • Fulfilling My Google-Given Doodies

    I just got a hit from a Google search of the term "What does it mean when you pee and it hurts?" Turns out I'm the first result . Huh. Well, with great power comes great responsibility, so I feel I should offer some counsel to those here on urine-related grounds. The question of what an aching, stabbing, or otherwise excruciating sensation during urination means has long plagued mankind. From Socrates to Kant, Dante to Roth, our greatest thinkers have cogitated and puzzled, wondered and fretted over the psychospiritual import of burning bladders. Everything from bad humours to an excess of bile to demons have been blamed so, I'm glad to report that in this century we have finally reached consensus. What does it mean if it hurts to pee? Nothing good. Go see a doctor. And wear a condom, for chrissake.
  • Why 1972 Matters

    Matt's got an interesting post on the McGovern realignment, which basically argues that the actual realignment happened four years before, when Nixon and Wallace left Humphrey with a mere 42% of the vote. That it split three ways made it look more like an anomaly and less like a phase shift. But Nixon's landslide in 1972 came from getting the Wallace voters, and we wrongly ascribed that to McGovern's Vietnam position, rather than the logical extension of 1968. That's correct, but only to a point. As a historical point, Matt's quite right. But insofar as it affects modern elections, the South is no longer, by and large, voting against us because they don't like black folks. What we're dealing with instead is party identification, law-and-order preferences, religious issues, and an aggressive military culture. Since Democrats aren't Republicans, are considered soft on crime, questioning towards authority, hostile to Christianity, uncomfortable with the armed forces, and condescending...
  • He's All Learned and Stuff

    Matt Holt dives of Gladwell's springboard to teach you more about HSA's, cost-sharing, and the conservative attack on social insurance than you ever thought you wanted to know. Read him.
  • When the First Disgruntled Caveman Killed the First Imperious Caveleader, Chavez Was There

    Most of you in blogland would argue that, considering the ethics of Robertson's call for assassination, he makes a pretty poor theologian. Well, as Jeff Dubner explains , he makes a really queer historian as well. And yes, 50% of this post was simply me desire to describe Pat Robertson as queer. BUt read the Dubner post anyway, it's really, really funny.
  • Feingold on Health Care

    I talked yesterday about how liberals are losing the essential arguments for health care in this country. The day before, I went to a forum with Russ Feingold. His speech was mainly on Iraq, but he mentioned that the top domestic concern of his constituents was health care so, when Q&A came, I asked how he'd fix it. His answer shows where we've fallen to. This is paraphrased, but accurate: I've always been for single payer. In the Senate, it was me and Paul Wellstone, we sponsored the bill. But recently, I came to the same conclusion Paul did towards the end of his life, which is that we need to establish a universal floor, but after that, give each state full autonomy over their programs. We don't need a big federal bureaucracy doing this, we need to rely, instead, on the "genius of the states" and let them experiment and decide what's best. Let's break that down a bit. He's for single payer. His alliance with Wellstone is used to give that cred. But when he gets into his actual...
  • Radio Wonders

    Last night, driving back to LA from a quick jaunt below the Orange Curtain, I decided to do as the Romans do (and as the billboards command) and listen to talk radio. First I went to 1150's Air America where Garofalo and Seder were doing the majority report. I really hate to say this, as I love Garofalo's comedy and acting, but I find her totally unlistenable on The Majority Report. She's shrill, mean to her callers (and here I'm talking the liberal ones, conservative interlopers get called "douches"), and just grates on me. On the bright side, she's well informed and good at staying on point, but I'm just not able to listen for more than ten minutes at a time. So off I go to 640, "More stimulating talk radio!" It's some white guy named Ron filling in for some white guy named Z-Man. They're bashing the Nation of Islam, which is a bit like me sticking rhetorical knives into the Ku Klux Klan, but whatever. Very good caller choice, the host is a talented talker, and the opinions are...
  • Thanks!

    Enormous thanks to the kind reader who snagged me The World's Banker from my Amazon Wish List . Not only will I be more informed on global trade, but I now know the feature works, too! And so do all of you! In any case, I really do appreciate it when folks take the time to buy me things. I try not to ask for donations on this site, largely because the world has far better causes for your money than random tips in my jar, and since I occasionally ask you to donate to those better ends, I don't feel I should be constantly playing Santa with the bell. But the Wish List is, to me, a bit different. All the books in there will make this site better, either by leaving me educated on a subject was embarrassingly ignorant on or adding more context and information to something I already know a bit about (that's why, incidentally, I put so little fiction on the list). It also allows you to be targeted, so if you like my health care work, you could get me One Nation, Uninsured , and if you wanted...
  • How Health Care Explains American Politics

    So, as promised, more on the Gladwell piece . Gladwell is not, as my previous post might have suggested, opening up a can of whoop-ass on America's health care system. Instead, he's digging into a cultural cause of our recalcitrance to move to full coverage -- the perception that the uninsured deserve what they get, and that insurance generally isn't what'll help these irresponsible souls. Gladwell calls it by its economic name, moral hazard, which is the theory that insurance changes the behavior of the uninsured. If you get all the health care you want for free, you'll use a ton of health care, much of it, according to conservatives, unnecessary. If you have to pay a significant copay, the amount you use will go down, as your bank account will feel each doctor's visit. If you are uninsured and have to pay the whole cost, you'll only go when you need it. That's all true, so far as it goes. The problem is, individuals aren't good judges of what counts as necessary care. They first cut...

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