• A Question

    I've been puzzling this out all day. If not for Rove, would Bush have picked Roberts? Which is to say, if not for Rove, would Bush have been spoiling for a long, protracted battle that could end with more public disapproval of his administration and priorities (even as the Justice eventually won confirmation), or would he have still wanted the lovefest Roberts created? Because the pick, all things considered, has given an Administration desperately in need of some good press an avalanche of positive coverage and sunny photo ops. Even Democrats are having trouble mustering much more than resignation. But was this weakness on their part or what they wanted all along? What do you guys think?
  • Smart Subsidies

    Yesterday, Matt pointed to a Times article saying that new hybrid technologies were being pumped into the acceleration side of things rather than going to increase fuel efficiency. That's not going on everywhere, sure, but the Accord hybrid and a few others are using the increased power to, well, increase power. This is essentially what happened in the 80's when the advances that had been going to cut fuel consumption were, with Reagan's freeze on CAFTA standards, plowed into engine muscle, at least by American companies. The Japanese kept going for efficiency and, well, you know how that turned out. Matt uses this as evidence for why we should let the market take care of oil or, if we insist on meddling, have something straight forward like a gas tax. I'm not so sure. As I've said in the past , gas taxes are enormously regressive, hurt those who (for reasons of employment or whatever) can't change their transportation patterns, and will make all manner of good more expensive because...
  • Bits n' Pieces

    I don't know if other writers are experiencing the same thing, but there's really nothing left to write about Roberts at the moment. Nevertheless, I feel I should be writing about Roberts now. It's all very confusing. So, while I try to mentally segue into other subjects, here are some bits that got buried: • Matt Holt wrote an excellent piece on the failure of Clinton Care yesterday that everyone should read. If you missed it, correct the mistake. Correctly understanding what happened there is crucial if we want to move forward. • I wrote a less-excellent, but still rather interesting (or so I thought) piece arguing against the predictions that HSA's and the collapse of employer-based health care will necessarily lead to single-payer. Worth a look, I hope. • My soon-to-be colleague Mark Goldberg notices Obama has picked up genocide-expert-extraordinaire Samantha Powers as an advisor. That's very good news for all of us concerned with humanitarian crises and interventions. • And...
  • First Impressions

    Check out BagNewsNotes on framing images. Most of the framing talk -- particularly Matt Bai's old-news article about Lakoff -- tends to twirl around the same old block, saying what we heard before but louder. The idea that you can lose on visual cues as surely as aural ones, though, hadn't occurred to me, but after seeing Bag's post , I'm convinced we're probably doing it. Definitely worth a read .
  • How It's Done

    The New York Times gets it exactly right : The American people know little about Judge John Roberts, other than that President Bush is nominating him to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. But in the coming weeks that should change. The Senate has a duty to scrutinize his background and to question him closely at his confirmation hearings about substantive areas of the law. If he is a mainstream conservative in the tradition of Justice O'Connor, he should be confirmed. But if on closer inspection he turns out to be an extreme ideologue with an agenda of stripping away important rights, he should not be.
  • And Now, Bed.

    A few thoughts on Roberts before bed. Liberals need to be careful how they play this one. I've heard a fair number of folks demanding that Democrats force the nuclear option, and that any who don't should be disowned by the party's base. At this point, that's idiotic. As we begin this battle, a few facts should be kept in mind. First and foremost, President Bush will nominate and the Senate will confirm a conservative judge. As McCain says, elections have consequences, and this is one of them. If we somehow shut down the Senate and force Bush to pick a different candidate, the replacement will also be conservative. There is no possible outcome where Roberts is replaced by a liberal, or even a moderate. Without a majority, we're just not going to get an agreeable judge. So the question, on Roberts, is how to lose. One way or the other, we will lose, all that matters is how we look while we flame out. And the first rule there is that we shouldn't look like a bunch of rabid ideologues...
  • Roberts

    In the last post, I wondered why everyone was calling Edith Clement Brown "Clement" rather than "Brown". As it turned out, her name is "Edith Brown Clement". Happily, none of this matters because she's not the nominee. A non-Hispanic, non-female, white man is. More specifically, it's John G. Roberts Jr. What do we know? Well-connected lawyer. Liked by Democrats. Long conservative pedigree. Non-Scalia temperament. Friend to business. Social conservative. Well-respected judicially. Has represented some interesting clients, including the 19 states that sued Microsoft for anti-trust violations. But I'm not the go-to guy on this, they follow below: • A long Washington Post article comparing him and Luttig. So far as I can tell, the article thinks he's Luttig, but with much better social graces. • Courting Influence has some of his ties to special interests. He was a peanut farmer lobbyist, apparently. • National Abortion Federation hates him, on grounds that as lawyer for Bush's father, he...
  • Justice Edith Clement Brown?

    Words seems to be that Bush will pick Judge Edith Clement Brown for the Supreme Court. I'm in kind of a rush, but here's where to go for more on her: • Eduardo Penelver on Brown's potential hostility to the Americans With Disabilities Act (and thus similar equal rights laws); • Brad Joondeph on Brown and federalism; • Nathan Newman on why she's a stealth candidate in the worst way; • The Kossacks on Brown; • People for the American Way on Brown; • Yglesias on her corporate ties (and here ). If it's her, I'd just like to say I quasi- called (and here ) this one. • on why conservatives should be pleased with Brown. Of course, there are also rumors that it's not Brown at all, but someone else. Highly possible, so keep that in mind. If it is her, now you're all prepared. The one thing I don't know: Why is everyone referring to Edith Clement Brown as "Clement" rather than "Brown"? Seems a bit counter-intuitive.
  • Against Health-Care Determinism

    That's a neat trick. Arnold Relman, the Harvard Medical School expert who wrote TNR's cover story on universal health care a few months back, somehow got David Francis to rewrite his whole article for the Christian Science Monitor , complete with lots of quotations from, yes, Arnold Relman. Well played! Relman's basic argument is that the next 5-10 years will see the ascension of consumer-driven health solutions: HSA's, MSA's, and all the other acronyms that mean you, not your employer, are now responsible for the majority of your health care expenditures. Relman thinks this revolution will fail, and when it does, single-payer will be the last option left standing and we'll adopt it. I wish. We've been down this road before, most recently with less ruthless forms of cost-sharing and the managed care revolution. And how'd that turn out? In most countries, health spending increased more rapidly than GDP. U.S. health spending as a percentage of GDP increased by 1.6 percentage points from...
  • Who Killed Clinton Care?

    This is Matthew Holt from The Health Care Blog with the article I've threatened Ezra's readers with for some time about what in my view really happened the last time we got serious about health care reform. And in it there are lessons for what we should do when the opportunity next comes up. There are lots of versions about what killed the 1993-4 health care reform effort. Hillary Clinton has now decided that the problem was the lack of incrementalism in her plan . Last week the New York Times said that since becoming a Senator: She has deliberately avoided the major mistake she made as first lady, namely trying to sell an ambitious plan to a public with no appetite for radical change. <SNIP>. She summed up her approach in the first floor speech she delivered in the Senate about four years ago, when she unveiled a series of relatively modest health care initiatives. "I learned some valuable lessons about the legislative process, the importance of bipartisan cooperation and the...