• How Much is Hybrid?

    Matt's post on the new, highly-publicized study proving that hybrids aren't actually cheaper overstates the case a bit: A lot of people I know seem to feel that car buyers irrationally underestimate the financial impact of fuel economy when making their purchasing decisions, and that this gives us reason to fear that market mechanisms alone won't make everything balance out in the long run. The fact that people are, in fact, buying hybrids even though they aren't worth the additional money seems to indicate the reverse -- consumers either irrationally overestimate the financial benefits of fuel efficiency, or else have non-monetary preferences (about, e.g., the environment or national security) that factor in favor of buying fuel-efficient cars. The Edmunds study does not, in fact, say that hybrids are more expensive than other cars, just that they're more expensive than their non-hybrid models. So a Hybrid Civic is more expensive than a normal Civic, and a Hybrid Escape is more...
  • Guest-Bloggers

    Thousand thanks to my backup bloggers who kicked so much rhetorical and intellectual ass for the last week. Neil can be found at the Ethical Werewolf and Paperwight makes his home at Fairshot . I suggest you find them.
  • I Am Not Deep Throat

    I just want to be clear that, though Garance at my future place of employment blogged about the Edwards dinner from the other night, I was not her source for it. It's worth saying publicly because I thought the dinner was off the record. When I argued that case to Garance and the attendee who was filling her in on the events (a conversation that happened to be taking place while I was in the Prospect office for other reasons), I was told that the dinner's existence was on the record, just not the content. Sigh. I clearly have much to learn about the ways of Washington. Anyway, the Edwards are very nice folks, and it's about as weird as you probably imagine to have John Edwards answer the door for you. But I still think the dinner was an informal, off-the-record kinda thing -- in spirit if not in writing -- so that's the last you'll hear from me on it. I also had meals with Elana Berkowitz, Sam Rosenfeld, Jeff Dubner, Matt Yglesias, Mike Tomasky, and a guy who started talking to me...
  • Friends and Foes in India

    My time as Ezra's guestblogger is coming to a close, and I want to thank him for giving me this opportunity. It's been a very rewarding experience! I see that he's made room for a category of posts on India, and nothing currently seems to occupy that category. So as a final post, I'll say some very general things about Indian politics to give people a feel for the terrain. My knowledge of Indian politics isn't particularly great, but I should be able to say enough to give you an idea of what's going on and why it's exciting. If you like Democrats, you'll probably be rooting for India's Congress Party. Congress is a secular party that stands for tolerance towards India's Muslim minority, overturning the caste system, and more friendly relations with traditional rival Pakistan. On the economic front, Congress is likely to support redistribution of wealth to the poor. Congress posted a surprising victory in recent elections, and the current Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh , is...
  • Serendipitous

    Two unrelated stories today dovetail quite nicely. John Aravosis takes issue with some who have apparently criticized him for the awful sin of actually making a tolerable living fighting the good fight for liberals. His post and the comments, are all worth reading. Steve Gilliard and Digby both have interesting things to say on the topic as well. I'm not going to excerpt any of the posts; click through and read them. Then, at Confined Space (which should be a daily stop for labor news), Jordan Barab notices who crisis manager Chris Lehane works for when he's not working for Democrats : Chris Lehane, 37, helped the Clinton White House spin the Whitewater investigation, spoke for Vice President Al Gore on the 2000 presidential campaign trail and advised former Gov. Gray Davis during the 2001 energy crisis and 2002 gubernatorial campaign. Now he's working for KFM Joint Venture, the contractor building the Bay Bridge's new eastern span. The Oakland Tribune has reported welders'...
  • Why Everybody Should Love John Edwards

    He just had Ezra over for dinner! I had no idea that Ezra was doing that, but it's unbelievably cool. This is a brilliant move by Edwards -- not only does it bring him closer to very smart people in the blogosphere, but it enables me to post about how awesome he is and how everybody should vote for him in 2008. Furthermore, I'm going to do it without talking about any of Edwards' substantial electability advantages. This post is entirely going to be on why an Edwards presidency would be great for America, not on why he's more likely to win the general election after winning the primary. Now, a lot of this is going to depend on the same things that Edwards' electability advantages depend on -- namely, the wonderful media profile he's built for himself and his skill as a campaigner. These things raise my hopes for passing good health care reform under Edwards, and for changing the way Americans think about morality and poverty.
  • Secondary Primary Post

    As it turns out, I've got a few more things to say about the primary process. So here goes: Brad Plumer thinks it'd be cool to implement Single Transferable Voting . I agree from a candidate selection perspective -- Brad has a few arguments to this effect -- and also from a fun perspective. Show me the Deaniac who won't feel raw pleasure in ranking Dean over Clark over Edwards over Kerry over Sharpton over Lieberman! Political junkies will enjoy having data about whom Hillary voters considered their second choice, and reading all the ranked endorsements that'll come out. The only disadvantage of STV is that it takes a little while to explain. But it's all fun fun fun after that.
  • Scary Truths

    This point of Matt Miller's is quite peculiar : "I like a look of agony, because I know it's true," wrote Emily Dickinson. It may not be agony citizens are looking for, but common sense tells them that the ratio of fact to flimflam has reached depressing lows. It may take a jolt to the system more powerful than the one Viagra delivers to rouse us from the torpor of charades-as-usual. Then again, now that Deep Throat has been unveiled, maybe anything is possible. Indeed. And Matt's suggestion is that both parties explain that the country is headed for wreckage and we need higher taxes. All well and good, except Matt was stateside in 2004, right? I mean, I'm almost sure he was. And voters didn't seem particularly unnerved by the flimflam of the guy they elected. In fact, all this flimflam is really for the voter's benefit. We've got a country that likes to be conservative in theory -- low taxes! small government! self-reliance! -- but liberal in policy. That makes for a Congress willing...
  • Competitive Pressures Can't Handle The Truth!

    With all the hubbub, hullaballoo, a kerfluffle recently generated by unsafe, massively popular meds, a handful of our major pharmaceutical companies have begun posting their full, uncensored trial results on the web. Full transparency, the market calls it. But Merck and Pfizer, citing "competitive pressures", haven't followed suit. As Kate notes, this poses a problem as Merck's Vioxx, more than any other drug, is the one that started this rush to transparency by proving itself unsafe. And those competitive pressures Merck is citing really don't make sense. Indeed, competitive pressure would logically demand that they match their competitor's move towards transparency. At least, that's what it'd demand if doing so wouldn't cause grievous harm to the company. So all this calls into question exactly what Merck's internal trials have been showing. It's not the most reassuring move if you swallow any of Merck's products. Further, and correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the FDA force this...
  • Gulag

    Here's what can happen when you start imprisoning people without fair trials: "When we went to Pakistan the local people treated us like brothers and gave us good food and meat," said another detainee. But soon, he said, they were in prison in Pakistan where "we heard they sold us to the Pakistani authorities for $5,000 per person." There have been reports of Arabs being sold to the Americans after the U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan, but the testimonies offer the most detail from prisoners themselves. In March 2002, the AP reported that Afghan intelligence offered rewards for the capture of al-Qaida fighters — the day after a five-hour meeting with U.S. Special Forces. Intelligence officers refused to say if the two events were linked and if the United States was paying the offered reward of 150 million Afghanis, then equivalent to $4,000 a head.