Archive

  • The Wonk Takes Over

    Sometimes a post, or a point, or an observation sticks in my head and I just can't get it out. That's what Lance Mannion did a few days ago with his piece separating writers from wonks. Despite a kind and conciliatory comment he made in my first reply, I've not been able to shake the larger point, that there is, in fact, a substantive stylistic difference between the group of bloggers I self-associate into and those who'd be counted as writers. This'll be a little more meditative than my usual fare, so if you're looking for more on the deficit, scroll on.
  • Right Between the Eyes

    Nice counterpunch by Jonathan Alter over at The Huffington Post. The situation, till now, was that Alter wrote a satirical column on Watergate, imagining how it'd run if it happened today. In it, he explained that the forces demanding disclosure knew they were in trouble when Ailes banned the word "Watergate" from his channel, instead terming the controversy "assault on the presidency". Alter, of course, has Fox perfectly pegged. Ailes knows it, so he began spreading rumors that Alter's just a disgruntled wannabe who asked for a job at Fox and was turned down. That, of course, never happened. Alter turned down the job when Ailes made it clear he'd be a token liberal, not a respected commentator. But watch Alter turn the smear around: Speaking of disclosure, I don't recall Ailes disclosing that he worked for Nixon, Reagan and other GOP candidates when he writes an op-ed piece or goes on TV. He somehow never gets around to mentioning that while President of Fox News, he wrote a letter...
  • Think India

    Jim Hoagland picks up my favorite undermade argument and turns in a convincing column that India, not China, will be the next great economic power. Their government is more flexible, their industries more advanced, their people better educated, their economy more stable, and their path forward more obvious. China can't rely on manufacturing forever, and it's really unclear whether or not they can make the jump to an advanced economy, particularly considering their massively undereducated rural population and the command/control nature of their government. Yes, I know they're more capitalist than communist, but that's too often taken to mean they're not communist, which just isn't true. Anyway, read the op-ed , it's thought provoking stuff.
  • Hurrah for Private Insurance!

    Considering the time I spend bashing private insurance, I may as well say something good about it when I get a chance. So here's my chance. The Quebec courts were right to strike the law banning all forms of private insurance in the country. You really don't want the government to be the only possible source of health delivery innovation within a particular system, and there's no reason that a parallel structure can't exist at the high end of health services that shortens wait times, offers more hospital comfort, and so forth. I respect Canada's emphasis on radical egalitarianism, but it's just not bright. There needs to be a government provided floor that covers the basic needs of all citizens, but so long as we're going to have a capitalist society filled with money earned from labor (or inheritance or whatever), folks should be able to buy things with it. More to the point, so long as you have relatively open borders with a capitalist society directly south, you'd be stupid to bar...
  • At The Newstand

    If you get a chance, pick up the latest issue of the Atlantic and read through James Fallows' article on the coming economic crash. Its alarmist, sure, and its gimmick, a look back from 2016, ensures that everything is worst case and some of it a bit far-fetched (i.e, Venezuela is not going to shut down oil exports to America, and if we crashed China would probably be hurt worse), but it's also an enormously broad overview of all the spots where our economy is weak. Well worth the read, particularly the footnotes. By the way, when did The Atlantic become so gimmicky? Retrospectives from the future, war games towards Iran, North Korea, and China, modern-day Tocquevilles...is reality really so low-stakes that they can't think of anything to say about it?
  • The Incredible Shrinking Deficit

    On the subject of government revenues, it looks like this year's deficit won't be as bad as projected, clocking in at $350 billion rather than $427 billion. Good stuff, and the administration will surely tout it as a God-given sign that their agenda is a blessed one, and their fiscal policy wise. But let's not relax yet: the nation still faces long-term deficit problems. Overall federal spending is increasing, including for war costs. More broadly, spiraling health-care costs for Medicare and Medicaid programs, including a prescription-drug benefit for seniors starting next year and a wave of baby-boomer retirements after 2008, will drive federal deficits to unsustainable sizes. "These are the good ol' days. These are the best of times," says Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former administration economic adviser. "After this, it gets worse." The WSJ has a graphical representation of this that's pretty stark: So, sorry kids, smaller deficit or not, we're...
  • Two Cents on Taxes

    In their special report on tax politics, the American Prospect made a good point. Considering the current fiscal situation, Democrats are going to have to learn to advocate for higher taxes again. Yes, it sucks to be the grown-up after the Republicans have crayoned over the budget's walls and urinated on the fiscal sofa, but somebody has to do it if our revenues are to be brough in line with the sort of progressive role for government we envision (and that George Bush, through NCLB and the Medicare drug benefit, has helped actualize). Generally speaking, we rhetorically approach this through soaking the rich. Most everything advocated by a Democratic candidate last year was supposed to be paid for through rolling back the tax cuts on the wealthy. Not even raising their taxes, just rolling back the decrease. That won't cut it. As someone in the blogosphere said (I forget who), you can't pay for everything through the estate tax, you can't fund all dreams on the backs of the rich. And...
  • Is The Source Named Curveball?

    You know, there are some who accidentally fall prey to the maxim "those who don't know their history are destined to repeat it", and then there are those who are downright desperate to prove it true. Congressman Curt Wheldon, who just published a book alleging that Iran is hiding Osama bin-Laden, building a nuke, and directing the insurgency in Iraq, is one of these. His source is a shadowy exile figure in Paris, who he was introduced to by another exile whom the CIA branded a liar. Speaking of the CIA, they, the government, Wheldon's fellow congressmen, and most everyone else are ignoring the Bilderberg Group danger posed by Iran. Why are they doing this? Because Iran is planning to blow up a Boston nuclear reactor and thus obliterate the city, and the CIA knows that admitting to the threat would draw them into war. So, presumably, would the attack, if it happened. But hell, if the Shi'ites in Iran are controlling the Sunni's in Iraq, than anything is possible. And if a guy this dumb...
  • Tech Support

    So, as noted below, I'm having hard drive troubles. I'm taking the computer in tomorrow, but I want to backup my data beforehand. I've got a another laptop around -- an ibook -- that I can use to put the data on. How do I do it?
  • Emanuel's Objections

    Blogging over at The Washington Monthly, Ezekiel Emanuel has penned one of the most woefully unconvincing critiques of single payer health care I have ever read. In two posts, ( one , two ), he raises these objections: • "Americans are simply never going to endorse a Canadian style single payer system." • "There are also large differences beteween the USA and Canada — like 10 times the population. Another is that they are much more egalitarian than Americans are." • "Finally Canadians believe in good government, Americans are suspicious of government. The Canadian system is not one single payer, but one for each province run by provincal governments. Do you trust individual states to be able to run a health care system for their citizens? Seen what happened to Medicaid when we tried that in the USA — do you want to repeat that?" • Big programs only come out of Depression, catastrophe, or presidential assassination.

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