• Did Tom DeLay Just Lose a Legislative Battle?

    Posted by Nick Beaudrot CBS News -- which I try to use as a barometer of what non-cable news is covering -- has this story on their gateway page: "Congress Nearing Energy Bill Deal". Let's pause for a moment about the thought of giving oil and natural gas extraction even more tax favored status at a time when Exxon Mobil literally has more money than it knows what to do with. Now that that's over, let's get to the real news: "House and Senate conferees abandoned giving makers of the gasoline additive MTBE liability protection against environmental lawsuits on Sunday, removing the major roadblock to enactment of broad energy legislation". This is significant, because House Leadership, in the form of DeLay and his collegaue "Smokey" Joe Barton (R-TX) have had a monomaniacal obsession with protecting the poor small-market gasoline manufacturers from the big bad environmental groups. It seems strange for them to give up on their favorite pet rock when they are so close to victory. So are...
  • Lance Armstrong: Most Dominant Ever?

    Posted by Nick Beaudrot More substantive posting is on the way, but I just wanted to pause and ask this question: Now that he's won his seventh consecutive Tour de France , is there anyone in any sport who has been as dominant for as long as Lance Armstrong? At a glance, the closest thing I can come up with is Garry Kasparov, who was the Undisputed World Chess Champion for eight years, and the classical world chess champion for fifteen years. Tiger Woods' two years where he won 50% of the tournaments he entered, and became the first person to hold all four majors' titles simultaneously was unprecedented... but that wasn't a particularly lengthy period of dominance. Sandy Koufax led the National League in ERA for six years in a row ... but he was helped to some extent by Dodger Stadium. Michael Jordan? Jim Brown? Wayne Gretsky? Even Gretsky had players who put up comparable numbers and would beat him for the scoring (points, not goals) title from time to time. Put your thoughts in the...
  • Sunday Music

    In some senses, this is the more important one. I've got plenty of good books to read, but I'm woefully out of it on music and am absolutely desperate to find some new stuff I like. So here's what I'm listening to this week, recommendations would be gratefully accepted: • Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism. This, along with the Garden State soundtrack and Postal Service, is my favorite quasi-indie rock. I know, it's horribly trite and mainstream but, you know what? Screw you music snob! This is my sandbox on the internets and I can like what I want! • Grouch and Eligh's No More Greener Grasses: Probably my favorite CD of all time, and still good after all these years. • Dispatch's All Points Bulletin: Not sure if it beats their other live CD, Gut the Van , but it's damn good. And you?
  • Social Security Privatization: Still a Bad Idea

    Posted by Nick Beaudrot I know it feels like beating a dead horse, but it's worth remembering that there are people out there still trying to pass "free lunch" proposals to privatize Social Security and/or cut benefits. There's a large message machine out there to promote the idea. And that idea must be rebutted until it's drummed from of every prominent Republican circle. Thankfully I can outsource this intellectual garbage pickup to Angry Bear's Pro-Growth Liberal . And remember, folks, garbage men get paid pretty well. Just say no to fuzzy math.
  • Supply-Side Wonka

    Posted by Nick Beaudrot Could there be a movie that more exhibited the conservative world view than the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ? [ Caution: spoilers ahead ]
  • On the Origins of Supply Side Jesus

    By Nick Beaudrot This is completely unrelated to current events, but it's something that's certainly worth exploring. One of the great sources of liberal confusion is the cognitive dissonance of deeply religious Christians prioritizing discrimination against gays, and to a lesser extent abortion, over peace and poverty reduction; or as I like to put it, "why does Jesus Christ believe in trickle down economics"? [ Warning: huge oversimplifications to follow]
  • Saturday Book Club

    Slight change to this. Saturday I'm just going to do books, both fiction and non. Sunday I'll do music. Rules remain the same: I'll put down what I'm reading/listening to, comment on it, and you'll do the same. Victor S. Navasky's A Matter of Opinion : Navasky, the longtime publisher of The Nation, has written his memoirs on the magazine industry. I thought the book would be a bit broader than it is -- this is really about the nuts and bolts of running a journal of opinion -- but it's still an interesting read. Navasky's engaging, his early run-ins with folks who later became great are entertaining, and for an aspiring magazine writer like myself, the technical stuff is fairly interesting. But don't go here looking for a political memoir; it's not one. It has reminded me to read Charlie Peters Tilting at Windmills , though. Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down and The Polysyllabic Spree : I think I've blown through the guy's whole ouvre in the last two weeks. High Fidelity , About a Boy ,...
  • Why'd the Big Dog "Sell Out"?

    By Nick Beaudrot As a sidebar to the conversation on med mal, Ezra also asks the important question, "why is Bill Clinton parroting right-waing talking points"? It's an interesting puzzle. My best guess is that Clinton's been hanging out a fair bit with Bob Rubin, who is a big fan of tort reform (of course, he's also a big fan of greater social spending and poverty reduction, so the two sort of balance each other out. That, and he was The Man in the Clinton White House). And as political advice, he does have a point. It's much easier to agree with the public that malpractice costs are a problem than it is to try and convince them that they're not. And there are plenty of ways to address malpractice suits without capping payouts at a tiny sum; the John Edwards "three strikes and you're out" proposal, Clinton's "national standards" that would raise the presumption of innocence, and creating pre-trial hearings would all do something about the problem. Given that Democrats seem compelled...
  • Malpractice 'Round the World

    By Nick Beaudrot This is Nick Beaudrot of Electoral Math , here. I'll be helping out Ezra this weekend, providing y'all with a numerical look into the current state of the political world. Which is good timing on Ezra's part, since he just brought up the subject of malpractice costs and the insurance industry's bogus claims that costs are on the rise; a few months ago, I took a look at the question of just how far out of line US malpractice costs are by comparing the medicolegal systems of several countries: France , Britain , Germany , Japan , and Sweden .
  • Triangulators?

    With the DLC conversation in the post below raging forward, I think this is one misconception widespread enough it that its correction should be bumped up to the front page: The DLC has nothing to do with triangulation . They don't. Not at all. Triangulation was entirely Dick Morris's word, idea, and concept. Morris, a mostly-Republican operative, thought Clinton could take the good from both sides, drop the bad, and thus transcend partisan differences. So the triangle, with bottom point "a" being one party, bottom point "b" being the other, and the top point being the President rising above both. That's not what the DLC wants. They believe they've created a new ideological structure, similar to how neoconservatism has brought new foreign policy ideas to the Republicans party, they want to bring new domestic ideas (and occasionally foreign) to the Democratic party. They want a party that's more market-based, more concentrated on growth, more deficit-centered, more concerned with...