Archive

  • This Idea I Just Made Up? It's Wrong.

    I've said, by the way, all too little about Antonio Villaraigosa's mayoral win, so let me address that by wondering what in God's name Joel Kotkin is talking about: Last night Antonio Villaraigosa became Los Angeles's first Latino mayor in more than 100 years. In the coming days, his win will no doubt be seized upon by liberals as evidence of a growing alliance between labor and Latinos. This notion has some credence in Los Angeles itself, where Latinos have been growing in demographic strength and politics has moved leftward in recent years. Yet it would be a vast overstatement to ascribe national implications to Villaraigosa's victory. There is little reason to believe that he symbolizes the future of Latino politics at the national level; and even in Los Angeles, the lessons that it is possible to draw from yesterday's election are tempered by the circumstances surrounding this particular race--namely, the incumbent mayor's extreme unpopularity. All of which is to say that...
  • Books I Should Have Read

    Matt Yglesias handed me the baton on the latest meme, books you should have read but haven't. And since the tag came from Matt, where better to start than with the guy he did his thesis on? John Rawls' A Theory of Justice : I've cracked this one open a number of times. I've battled my way through part one. But, in the end, I never reach -- hell, I never even catch sight of -- the finish line. Bonus : I'm particularly ashamed whenever Jonah Goldberg goes on his "liberals need to read their philosophers" tangent. Bonus Bonus : Since I often go on a liberals have read their philosophers rejoinder and display Rawls prominently within the post, I have a secret suspicion that Jonah's no more finished his than I've finished mine. Bonus Bonus Bonus: I can joke that I'm speaking about Rawls' veil of ignorance from behind my own veil of ignorance. Awesome. The Bible : I've read a lot of this one. Most of the Gospels, most of the Tanakh (I refuse to call it the Old Testament), but I always fail...
  • The End of Aetna

    Really good op-ed today by Dr. Robin Cook restating the argument that genetic profiling will mandate single-payer health insurance. Essentially, we're finding that most all serious diseases have some sort of genetic component. That doesn't mean they're predetermined (indeed, genes interact with environmental and lifestyle factors to what's turned out to be a really surprising degree), but it does mean we're beginning to create technology able to identify an individuals risk factors for a whole host of conditions, essentially handing them a list of all the terrible ways their body may rebel against them in the years to come. The upside of that is, as I alluded to before, many of our genetic predilections can be sidestepped by lifestyle. If we know we're at risk for disease X, we will know to lead lives that short circuit disease X. Oh, and there's another upside: genetic profiling is going to make private insurance absolutely impossible: Not only is microarray technology easily...
  • Poor Choice of Words

    From the NY Times article on the efforts of Christian missionaries to bring God back into the Ivy League: The Christian Union's immediate goal, [Bennett] said, was to recruit campus missionaries. "What is happening now is good," Mr. Bennett said, "but it is like a finger in the dike of keeping back the flood of immorality." That sorta thing happened all the time at Santa Cruz, but it was never presented as a way to fight immorality...
  • The Islamic Republic -- Now With Nukes

    Looks like talks with Iran are rapidly approaching their breaking point and the EU is murmuring about a security council referral. Hmm. You know, I'm kinda conflicted about this. On the one hand, I don't much want Iran to have a nuke. I'm not really of the mind that they'll do a handoff to Hezbollah, but then, the country is unstable and amid revolution lots of nasty things can be done by insane people, so all things considered, I'd prefer them nukeless. On the other, Iran is really an interesting case of a country. We tend to group that whole region together as run by Islamofascists, but it's really not true. Only Iran and pre-invasion Afghanistan fit that, the rest of the countries are run by tyrants with an opportunistic relationship to Allah, not a real commitment to run their affairs off fatwa . But the Islamic Republic of Iran is, of course, very poorly run. Khomeini, who led the revolution, offered such vague rhetoric and soft plans that he united the professionals, the urban...
  • How to Deal With Torturers

    You've really got to read John Cole ripping Hugh Hewitt a new asshole over his cavalier, see-no speak-no hear-no approach to torture. (It does bring up an interesting question, though: can you tear a new asshole in an asshole? Ah well, that's probably best left for the logicians.) And so too, it seems, is torture best left for the opposition, as the right clearly can't deal with it. Watching so many of them respond to torture reports has been a bittersweet hoot, I'd not known such capacity for self-distraction existed. I read about innocent cab drivers being kicked in the leg until they die from brain clots while hung from the ceiling and think, my God, what have we come to? Hugh Hewitt and his ilk see the same story and think, Goddamn MSM! That's one powerful filtering mechanism they've engaged. Can't say I blame them though. Even a tepid, long since repented supporter of the war like myself is overcome with guilt when reading these articles. For Hewitt and friends, the only way to...
  • The Breakdown

    From the CAFTA article mentioned below, I love this closing paragraph on the high tech industry's donations: The result, in recent years, has been near parity in campaign contributions, splitting 54 to 45 percent in the Democrats' favor in 2004, 51 to 48 percent in the GOP's favor in 2002. This stands in direct contrast to the strongly pro-Republican tilt in such industries as pharmaceuticals (66 to 34 percent pro-GOP), tobacco (74-26), health (62-38) and insurance (68-32). So the GOP wins massively among big pharma, big tobacco, the AMA, and the insurance industry. That's a record to be proud of.
  • CAFTA Facing Problems

    David Sirota? Thomas Frank? Your ship has come in: Traditionally pro-business and pro-trade House Democrats have announced plans to vote against the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, a stance putting at risk support from the rapidly growing high-tech community, one of the few major industries that continue to give substantial backing to Democratic candidates. The four co-chairmen of the 40-member House New Democrat Coalition have declared their opposition to the agreement, provoking an outcry from high-tech lobbying groups. The opposition is a major setback for the Bush administration, which is struggling to get House and Senate votes on the agreement before the Fourth-of-July congressional recess. Notice the first-graf warning that the move would be viewed unfavorably within the high-tech community. Either Republican strategists wanted to scare some Democrats or high tech lobbyists wanted their feelings known, but someone was trying to spin this and hard. In...
  • Ordinary Rendition

    Next time Bush declares his confidence in our rejection of rendition, I wouldn't, uh, believe him. Sweden's released a report detailing an America rendition done on their territory, which, had it been done by Swedish police, would've been illegal. Indeed, the American use of police powers on Swedish ground is illegal, and the report noted that prosecution of the Americans involved is a possibility. I want to say this once and I want to say it clearly: Our. Country. Tortures. We don't have a few loose cannons wielding bull whips and tasers, we have a government whose official policy is the encouragement of extraordinary rendition, which is to say shipping our captured off to other countries for torture. Public protestations that we extract promises of humane treatment are simply insulting. If they were true, why do we need to send prisoners to other countries? We torture. It is our fault. And our government means for it to happen.
  • On Dynasties

    Matt Harwood's deeply concerned about the possibility of a dynastic presidency in the country. If Hillary wins, and then takes reelection, we'll have been under continuous rule by two families for 24 years. If Jeb then grabs the presidency, well, you get the idea. I've been hearing this a lot and I like it in theory, but I'm unconvinced on its application. What, exactly, are the problems with dynasty? So far as I know them, they're not merely the optics of keeping it in the family. It's more that dynasties consolidate power, pass leadership onto sons, daughters, and relatives who don't deserve it, and encourage misrule through squeezing out non-related competitors. And while a perfectly good case can be made that Bush 43 wasn't ready for power, I don't think that relates to either Hillary (or for that matter, two-term governor Jeb). Hillary, after all, is the Senator from one of the most populous and powerful states in the union, and so popular that the opposing party can't even...

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