• 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.
  • A Plan for Social Security

    Among left-wing bloggers, there's a general consensus that Democrats would be foolish to offer a competing plan for restructuring Social Security. This consensus is right (I refer the unconvinced to the Gospel of Matthew ), but it leaves open the question of what to say when we're asked what our plan is, or why we don't have a plan. There's a simple plan we can lay out here: Balance the budget, and no matter what happens with Social Security over the next 40 years, we'll be able to take care of it. Balancing the budget will put America into a sufficiently good financial position that we'll be able to shore up Social Security no matter what goes wrong. If Social Security needs a little extra money to keep going, we'll be able to come up with that. The best thing about this strategy is that it allows us to segue immediately into talk about Republican fiscal incompetence. Here's where you start talking about tax cuts for the rich, or if you're in an anti-spending environment, big...
  • NASCAR Rules

    So, what with the advent of the silly term " NASCAR Dad " and the recent kerfuffle over Robby Gordon's complaint about women drivers being lighter, so their car will go faster (Yes, I know that he was talking about Indy cars, but he drives NASCAR now), I got curious about the rules that govern NASCAR. Now, apparently, NASCAR doesn't release its rules publicly, but the folks who put together " A Yankee's Guide to NASCAR " have ferreted out a lot of them, and compiled the basics . I don't have the patience to watch car racing or (or full cricket matches), but the NASCAR rules are pretty interesting reading if you like technology. What I found most interesting is that there are a lot of rules for car weight, horsepower, and technology imposed almost entirely to ensure that the winners are sorted from the pack by the team's talent and their luck on the day. Just because you can afford an Indy car that could beat the hell out of all those stock cars, that don't mean that you get to race...
  • Expensive Poverty

    John Edwards, blogging at TPM Cafe, has a terrific post on the cyclical costs of being poor: David Shipler, who recently joined me on a panel at UNC, tells a striking story about a single mother he met while researching his book, The Working Poor. She had no savings and low earnings, so she had to live in a drafty wooden house. This exacerbated her son's asthma. That led to two ambulance rides to the hospital. Those trips led to ambulance charges she couldn't pay. Those charges damaged her credit report. And so then she was denied a loan to buy a mobile home. That meant she had to stay in that drafty house—the house that contributed to her son's asthma attacks. And she had to buy a car from a sleazy dealership that charged her 15 percent interest. As one little boy David met told his mother, “Being poor is expensive.” True enough. It goes beyond the disastrous, however, and deep into the mundane. The well-off have all sorts of expense savers: Amazon, Expedia, appliances that we...
  • The Power of First

    Garance on Hillary: she's also got one incredible and unique advantage no other candidate has: the power of history. For a Democratic Party that's seen as adrift and out of date, having a woman at the top of the ticket can become part of a narrative of national progress and forward motion. More importantly, it could have profound implications for field organizing and strategies for winning actual votes. That's correct, actually, and a very interesting point. Further, Hillary, by virtue of her time in the public eye, won't be the "first woman nominated by a major party for president!" I mean, technically, she will be, but her candidacy won't be novelty, she's too natural a choice for the ticket. That allows her to reap the benefits of a trailblazer without being seen as a token. And indeed, it fits nicely with the Democratic narrative of civil rights and equality for women, a storyline that's recently derailed into endless arguments over gay marriage. Regaining some sort of "force of...
  • Deep Throat Revealed!

    It was W. Mark Felt, the FBI's #2 at the time. The upcoming Vanity Fair has a long interview with the newly named source, and the Capitol Buzz points us towards an advance copy of the article. It's pdf, but this is a big fucking moment. Off you go .