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  • Leader or President -- Circle One

    In some ways, it's hard to blame Frist for turning batshit crazy in the past few months. Unlike most senators hoping to occupy the Oval Office, the good doctor from Tennessee is majority leader, which means every overpowered, under-medicated constituency in the country is tugging at his pant leg to make him actualize their agenda in the here and now. And they mean to see him do it if he expects their support down the road. Frist has no choice but to kowtow to their demands, rejecting compromises, taking extreme positions, and generally grinding the Senate to a halt because his presidential ambitions don't allow for moderation of any sort. But this isn't restricted to Frist. This'd be the path of most any average senator elevated to the majority leader's position and harboring hopes for highest office. Running the Senate in a bipartisan, rational way is simply incompatible with the craziness and constituency-pleasing required by the presidential gauntlet. And we should know it. So if...
  • To Make 1 Definition, Mix 1 Cup Simplicity and Two Cups Specifics

    Sorry Kos , but this is a wholly useless distillation of the Democratic party: Democrats are the party for people who work for a living We're also the party of puppies, smiles, things that light up, people who do good deeds, parents who comfort their children, and those cool brown things that you wrap around a cup so you can hold your hot coffee. And that aside, I wonder what all those folks who work for a living and don't vote Democrat, or don't always vote Democrat, are going to think? And what about students, like me -- are Democrats not for me? After all the times we've shared? What changed? And who works for a living -- is that a swipe at professionals and academics, or just at heirs? Kos, and everyone else, says you can stop a person on the street, ask them what the Republican party is all about, and they'll say: smaller government and lower taxes, family values, and a strong national defense. And while I dispute that most anyone on the street could rattle off that group of...
  • I Bleg Of You

    As part of my Get a Job series, I've started having to do a lot of interviews. The problem is that I can't type fast enough to record a conversation. Some I can do online so transcription isn't an issue, but for those I can't is there some way to hook a digital recorder to my cell phone? I can't figure out how, or which ones do it (the guy at Best Buy said none of them do it), but if any of you have the technological chops to point me in the right direction, it'd make my life a lot easier.
  • Correlation is Not Causation

    Watching David Brooks and John Tierney both race to write the same column extolling the virtues of obesity and mocking liberals for denying themselves cheeseburgers was pretty funny. Did no one warn David that Tierney got there first? Does David not even read his conservative competitor? Seems that the Times token righties need to coordinate a bit better. But it was also sad to watch two supposedly powerful conservative minds use some of the most read newspaper real estate in the world to misinform their readers in the exact same way and in service on the exact same agenda. So let's get something straight: the study did not tell you to get fat. It did not tell you to get a little fat. It did not, in fact, tell you to do anything at all. We're dealing with observational data that's widely available and the authors are trying to divine a connection between weight and mortality rates from it. We're also focusing on the rate of death, rather than disability and disease (as the Times...
  • Mail Troubles

    Something glitched in my Gmail yesterday and nothing sent between in the morning and midnight got to me. Everything seems to be working now, s if you sent me anything between those times, do me a favor and resend.
  • Guess Who's Coming to Government?

    Last night, the girlfriend and I watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner , the 1967 flick about two progressive parents trying to accept their daughter's interracial marriage. The film's a bit dated, though the central struggle of liberals trying to live by their ideals while their guts scream otherwise is still pretty compelling. But midway through, there was a bit of dialogue that struck me. Spencer Tracy, the father, and Sidney Poitier, the husband-to-be, are talking about the chances for Poitier's potential children (and Tracy's grandchildren). The father believes that they'll have none. His daughter, according to Poitier, believes they'll all be president. But his daughter is a naive, flighty girl and even Poitier admits that he doesn't share her optimism. Instead, he jokes, he'll settle for Secretary of State. Poitier's bride was supposedly utopian for believing mixed-race kids could ascend to the presidency, and Poitier himself was kidding when he said they could become Secretary...
  • Against Compromise

    So Trent Lott and Ben Nelson are pushing a compromise that would bring four of the blocked nominees to the floor, kill three of them, and end the Republican effort to kill the filibuster. But according to the new WaPo/ABC News poll , only 26% support "changing the Senate's rules to make it easier for Republicans to confirm Bush's nominees", while 66% oppose it. That's quite a majority firmly in opposition, and it includes almost half the Republicans surveyed. More interesting, from the perspective of who'd win a media war over the issue, is this question: "The Senate has confirmed 35 federal appeals court judges nominated by Bush, while Senate Democrats have blocked 10 others. Do you think the Senate Democrats are right or wrong to block those nominations?" 48% think the Democrats are right, 36% think them wrong. And that's a much softer numerical comparison than the one Reid uses (I think he's got a 195-10 number, or something similar). So why compromise? Numbers like this ensure...
  • My Spam Buddy Doesn't Know Me Very Well

    From my inbox (italics mine): Hey my man, long time no talk! You won't believe what we found, holy !!!!. It's this crazy hookup site, I got laid 6 times this week man, you don't have to use a credit card or anything you won't pay a cent! There are tons of girls, guys, couples and I'm sure something for you too! Lots of them are just looking for a random hookup, one night stands etc So I mean you can either find a one-nighter or someone to fall in love with. It's a community site with mad hot crazy chicks/dudes you really gotta check this thing out, cause you missin' out big !! That's quite an implication...
  • Tit for Tat

    Jonah sez : I really do hate tit-for-tat congressional politics. But if the Democrats really do tear down Bolton on what is, ultimately, rinky-dink nonsense then Republicans will be obliged to make the management style and office demeanor of all future Democratic nominees an issue. This will make Republicans hypocrites in the sense they think what the Democrats are doing to Bolton is wrong in the first place but will do the same thing to liberals later. But this is how Congressional politics must work. If one side establishes a new standard the other side has every right and obligation to adopt it. This is really the only way to get both sides to think twice about establishing precedents which might hurt them if applied to them in the future. I really do wish there was another way. You'd think that liberals would have realized that their introduction of Borking in the late 1980s did not help Democrats very much in the 1990s. Me thinks Jonah might want to sync his outrage to his...
  • Health Care WrapUp

    Having spent the last week of my life drowning in health care statistics and system comparisons (the products of which you can read here ), I want to make a few wrap-up points on the whole thing. First, I see why Clintons plan failed. In an effort to avoid the political baggage of single-player, he tried to emulate Germany's system, which is really the worst of the bunch. Complicated, bad at controlling costs, and obviously jury-rigged to accommodate an evolution that wasn't necessarily organized. Bad move. Employer-based health care, which Germany and Japan's universal systems rely on, is a poor choice. There's no compelling fiscal or policy reason to use it, and employer's, frankly, should not be in charge of their worker's health care. It's just a silly way of organizing it. Canada's system is too biased against the private sector; some degree of private, supplementary insurance should be allowed. We do not live in an equal society and we've never had a problem with allowing the...

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