• TGIF. So I Can Study.

    There are just some quarters determined to kick your ass. Some quarters when you get a midterm back, see that your score is too low, read the comments that say "you know the material but write unclearly", realize it's the other way around, and finally get a fraction of your missing points back because your TA doesn't speak English, couldn't understand the more polysyllabic terms, but doesn't want to admit full culpability and so still screws your grade over. And in quarters like this, it's almost a foregone conclusion that the term paper you've spent so much time crafting was due on last Monday, not this Friday, and you somehow took that down wrong, in addition to missing said Monday so you had no idea. So too, during quarters like this, should one simply assume that your hard drive will immolate itself right before finals, you will leave a crucial, heavily notated book on a plane, and the library will lack replacements. Which is all to say that it has not been a very good week, and...
  • It's Not You, It's Us

    EJ Dionne's column on the Kerry critics, the many Democrats who happily bash Kerry now that the election is over, rings a bit too true. So, as part of my plea bargain, let me say that Dionne is exactly right on this: The three debates were the only moments in the campaign in which Kerry's fate was entirely in his own hands, and he used them well. Kerry trounced Bush the first time and, I'd argue, beat him in the other two encounters. His one false move was mentioning Mary Cheney in connection with the gay rights issue. He shouldn't have done that. But the Cheney slip became a big deal because the Bush machine is so skillful at turning little things into big things -- always with help from Rush and Fox and the rest of the party-line conservative media eager to read scripts generated by the White House. This is not just a Kerry problem but a long-term challenge for his party. Is that ever true. The Mary Cheney fluff blunted Kerry's momentum coming off the third debate, and, in my mind,...
  • Warner 08?

    Looks like VA governor Mark Warner will be running for president. Think Evan Bayh, but from the South and touting a background in the tech industry. Should be interesting. Any Virginians reading have impressions of the guy? In any casde, it's not certain whether he's running for president or senate, but speculation focuses on the former. Guess we'll know for sure once he invites me to dinner.
  • How Much Does Trade Matter?

    Good post by Matt on why the trade issue is overblown. As a psychological point, though, trade's political resonance comes from its logic. Even the bottom of the pyramid can understand why those at the top want to flip their jobs to India and have them done for 1/50th as much. Thus, while conventional layoffs may be more widespread, they can be rationalized away as the type of thing that happens to bad workers, not a top employee like me. Outsourcing, however, seems like a smart idea, and no matter how good any of us are, we're not as good as the ten or twenty Indians who could be hired for our wage. That lends it an air unpredictability -- it's not about your performance, it's about the economic decisions and, in some ways, altruism of your employer. There are a number of issues that Americans believe to be Big Problems, but really aren't. Social Security, welfare, foreign aid (yes, really), violence in video games, same-sex marriage, Medicare fraud, tort reform, and so forth. As...
  • Just a Thought

    As a fellow attendee of the Edwards dinner, I'd argue that revoking the posting privileges of folks who criticize him on your site is probably not the best way to look as if you exited the meal with integrity intact. Even if Stirling had other reasons for banning BOP News poster RJ Eskow and deleting all his old pieces doing it directly after RJ posted something critical of John Edwards is about as bad as optics get. When Stirling tipped Garance off about the dinner, she wrote: Gaining the loyalty of not that hard to do if you just talk to them In my eyes, that made us all look bad, in addition to being a load of crap. But who knows, maybe Garance put her finger directly on the problem. As bloggers begin to get courted by more pols and bigger names, we're going to have to figure out some way to deal with the attention without looking -- without being! -- hopelessly compromised. Maybe that means full disclosure of every meal and conversation, though, like in journalism, I...
  • 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 reality really so low-stakes that they can't think of anything to say about it?