Archive

  • Modern Newt

    Since bloggers ( Mark , Kevin , Matt ) are talking about Newt Gingrich today, here are some highlights from GQ's spread on the guy. Newt, while bright and ideologically consistent, is also batshit crazy, a real radical. Like lots of young liberals weaned on the current Bush administration's deceptiveness, I have a certain affection for Gingrich's essential honesty in advocating rightwing nuttery as a governing platform. But that doesn't make him a better president than the others, just more respectable (and defeatable). Some of these quotes will explain why. The first shows why Newt is the candidate of crazy conservative comic-book artists. He echoes their powerlessness and amplifies it, giving it volume and a rationale. He takes their paranoia and tells them it's principle. Newt, you have to realize, perfected the "whine of the oppressed white-man" long before it was on Thomas Frank's radar. It's how he won Congress in 1994: Didn't the 2004 election demonstrate that the secular...
  • Water, Water, Not Everywhere...

    Things that make me feel like an asshole (Via Matt Holt ): More than 2.6 billion people, or more than 40 percent of the world's population, lack basic sanitation, and more than one billion people lack reliable access to safe drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all illness in the world is due to water-borne diseases, and that at any given time, around half of the people in the developing world are suffering from diseases associated with inadequate water or sanitation, which kill around five million people a year. Widespread illness also makes countries less productive, more dependent on outside aid, and less able to lift themselves out of poverty. One of the main reasons girls do not go to school in many parts of the developing world is that they have to spend so much time fetching water from distant wells. Clean water could be provided to everyone on earth for an outlay of $1.7 billion a year beyond current spending on water projects, according...
  • Hot or Not?

    Interesting: Although looks in mating still matter much more to men than to women, the importance of appearance appears to be rising on both sides of the gender divide. In a fascinating cross-generational study of mating preferences, every 10 years different groups of men and women were asked to rank 18 characteristics they might want enhanced in a mate. The importance of good looks rose “dramatically” for both men and women from 1939 to 1989, the period of the study, according to David M. Buss, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas. On a scale of 1 to 3, the importance men gave to good looks rose from 1.50 to 2.11. But for women, the importance of good looks in men rose from 0.94 to 1.67. In other words, women in 1989 considered a man’s looks even more important than men considered women’s looks 50 years earlier. Since the 1930s, Buss writes, “physical appearance has gone up in importance for men and women about equally, corresponding with the rise in television,...
  • Pricing the Uninsured

    Yesterday, Brad Plumer brought up the question of whether or not it's cheaper to leave the uninsured outside the system. From one perspective, it obviously is: the insured use $2,484 of health care each year, while the uninsured get only $1,253. But it's trickier than that. Kaiser estimates that covering the uninsured would boost their annual earnings by 10%-30%, lift their educational attainment, and prolong their lives by 5%-15%. There's money to be had there, in higher purchasing power, in better productivity, and in longer work years (though there's also money to be lost, as longer lives may mean more costs), all of which may translate into larger government tax revenues and increased ability to pay for their own health insurance. But the more interesting argument is who pays. Covering the uninsured is, in some ways, a cost-shifting device. That's because the uninsured, for the most part, aren't poor. The poor have Medicaid. The uninsured are (generally) low-income folks above the...
  • John Roberts: Gay-Rights Crusader

    According to The LA Times , John Roberts did a fair bit of pro-bono work for a gay-rights group, and was instrumental in helping them win their case: Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. Then a lawyer specializing in appellate work, the conservative Roberts helped represent the gay rights activists as part of his law firm's pro bono work. He did not write the legal briefs or argue the case before the high court, but he was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the case. Later on, the reporter recounts how Roberts went so far as to play Scalia before the group, peppering them with their archenemy's likely questions and teaching them how to parry, feint, and win. Kevin Drum is interested...
  • Tom Tancredo. Puppet.

    Has anyone else noticed that caped anti-immigration crusader Tom Tancredo's leadership group is called Team America PAC? Does anyone else find that hilariously funny? Is this a secret clue that the guy's just as much a parody as he seems and is really nothing but a puppet dancing for observer amusement?
  • Where To Now?

    This Business Week editorial is about the best thing I've yet read on Bush's upcoming tax reform ( italics mine): one of the mandates President Bush gave to the tax panel was that its recommendations should raise about the same $2 trillion that the feds currently collect annually. T hat means any changes will shift, not lift, the tax burden . So there will be winners and losers aplenty. Should we eliminate all taxes on capital assets like stocks or bonds, stimulating investment but giving the wealthy a windfall? Will Americans accept an easy-to-understand flat tax or consumption levy if the cost is the end of deductions for state and local taxes or home mortgage interest? And which business taxes may have to be increased by $600 billion over the next decade so the unpopular alternative minimum tax for individuals can be eliminated? Such tough choices are sure to elicit howls of protest from the public and business, each eager to protect existing tax preferences. That's why the Bush...
  • The Peace Army

    Shakespeare's Sister has a good post on the McCain-Bayh bill that'd allow military recruits to fulfill part of their service obligations in the Peace Corps. Apparently, the program was popped into the Defense Bill from a couple years ago and, well, funny thing, no one ever informed the Peace Corps. Whoops. I'm a little conflicted on the program, to tell you the truth. On the one hand, it seems like a good idea to give recruits exhausted from the army a chance to wipe the blood from their hands and do some humanitarian work. Nevertheless, I've got to come down against it for three reasons. 1) As Shakes said, it'll break down the traditional barrier between Peace Corps and military, potentially making Peace Corps volunteers targets overseas. That's got to be avoided at all costs. 2) I fear it'll become nothing more than a way to trick uncertain kids into signing up for the army. Even now, they're told that it'll be a breeze, they'll be out in a couple years with thousands of dollars for...
  • Immigrants and Health Care

    Great post over at the Health Law Prof's blog summarizing a recent American Journal of Public Health article on immigrant usage of our health system. We've all heard, I'm sure, that our rise in health costs and the difference between us and other societies is our enormous immigrant population, which is to say that the goddamn Mexicans keep stealing over the border solely so they can get sick and charge it to America's Express card. So is it true? Well, no. Immigrants receive an average of $1,139 worth of care per year, compared with $2,564 for non-immigrants. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, consumed 8% of our nation's health care, when they make up 10% of our nation's population. That means they're underconsuming health care, not using an excess amount of it. Health care costs for poor immigrant children are 84 percent less than those for native born kids. 84%! Immigrants, on average, receive half the health care that native born Americans get, saving the system hundreds of...
  • Torture

    The Washington Post has an extraordinary five-page report on torture today. In this case, it's not just the crime, but the cover-up: Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was being stubborn with his American captors, and a series of intense beatings and creative interrogation tactics were not enough to break his will. On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again. It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents. ... Hours after Mowhoush's death in U.S...

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