• Myth-Busting

    Over at Dymaxion World, John has written an excellent rejoinder to "The Long Emergency", the Rolling Stone excerpt on the apocalyptic world an oil crash is about to bring. The oil crisis is bad enough without going into full on scare mode, so I highly suggest you read John's more balanced portrayal . For what it's worth, I've been looking into these things pretty heavily lately, and John's view strikes me as closer to the truth, but I'm still no expert, so take my recommendations with the proverbial grain of salt. So long as I'm linking to excellent piece, go read Matthew Holt's myth-busting comparison of the Canadian and American health care systems. Great stuff.
  • Snidely Whiplash in Scrubs

    One day, and I like to think it soon, politicians will muster their will and Americans will call forth their outrage and we'll finally fix our broken health care system. And when we do, and the histories of the epic battle to guarantee coverage are written, these folks will be the villains: One of the most talked-about new plans is Tonik, launched a few months ago by the California Blue Cross subsidiary of WellPoint Inc., the nation's largest health insurer. Directed toward people in their 20s, Tonik seeks a coveted group insurers call the "young invincibles" because they are rarely sick. The company's marketing campaign looks nothing like the button-down image the Blues have long presented. Silhouetted snowboarders careen across Tonik's website, on which medical plans have hipster names such as the "calculated risk-taker" and the "part-time daredevil." Its monthly premiums are as low as $64, with out-of-pocket deductibles as high as $5,000 (the "thrill-seeker"). The most...
  • Exhibit A in the Case Against Brooks

    If you've ever wondered why I give David Brooks such a hard time, today's column should be filed in your records as Exhibit A. It's a perfect, almost archetypal example of everything he does wrong. The Republican party, he'd like us to know, is a great party full of transformational thinkers and lofty idealism and a creamy nougat center. But perfection and virtue, sometimes, are not enough for the American people. The American people, you know, are stodgy and small-minded. They like evolution -- not the darwin kind! -- rather than transformation. Take Terry Schiavo, where "Republicans charged boldly forth to preserve her life", or Social Security where they offered Americans chances to control their retirement accounts (benefit cuts? What benefit cuts?). Despite the right's wings and halos, the American people opposed their plans because, well, they were too good, too brave, too virtuous. Ever had a rich chocolate cake that you couldn't finish because it was just so damn good and...
  • We Stand As One

    Ever wondered what would happen if Lisa Frank and Peggy Noonan collaborated on a music video? Wonder no more . Via Greg .
  • Hence the "Imaginary Center"

    Matt misinterprets my post from this morning (although I do like the constant blog wars we're having). Terming it "fuck the center" isn't quite correct, it was much more "fuck the imaginary center" (hence the title: "The Imaginary Center"), the point being that this magical land of moderation exists only in the mental landscape of the pundit class. That, of course, accounted for my foray into what Matt calls "polling literalism". Policies supported by the American people lay far outside what one would assume centrist politics allows -- they profess to want government-run health care, a hyper-progressive tax system, etc., which proves, I think, that achieving "centrism" isn't as binary and simplistic as some assume. Of course, we do have a representative democracy, so if Americans really wanted these things, they wouldn't keep voting in the schmucks who demagogue the bills aimed at achieving them. That's why I didn't recommend that Hillary fight for single-payer health care or a...
  • The Gay Front

    Pam and Shakespeare's Sister are right. Nothing shows how completely unprepared America is to fight a war better than our willingness to kick heroic homosexuals out of the service. Doesn't matter if they know Arabic, doesn't matter if they're the real-life manifestation of Rambo, doesn't matter if they shoot lasers from their eyes and make things explode through mental effort, if they prefer dudes to chicks the Army doesn't want them. And it doesn't need them at the exact same moment that it desperately needs more troops. During Vietnam, the thirst for bodies superseded the country's casual bigotry and dudes in dresses were sent as surely as the conscripts who showed up in fatigues. We were fighting a war. Presently, we're forcing perfectly good, able, and willing fighters from advancing the national interest because they pursue a lifestyle that is in no way illegal. That point can't be overstated. Being gay is no less legal than being brown-eyed, or long-limbed. The Supreme Court, in...
  • More on Arnold

    There's a lot of justified celebration among progressive California watchers today. Arnold's invulnerability has finally cracked, and now he's scuttling away from pension reform as quick as his musclebound legs can take him. As a victory, it's more important than we might expect -- CALPERS has been an enormous force for corporate responsibility, throwing their cash behind companies with good practices and using their shareholder pull to spur reform in those that failed. But I wouldn't jump too high. Arnold's back-off is pure calculation. He's got a herd of semi-popular, hyper-controversial ballot initiatives up for vote. Unlike his bond measure, which posed the no-brainer of whether or not Californians would like to bury their children in debt so they didn't have to add a cent to the sales tax (YES!), it's going to be an uphill climb for the governator come the next ballot. Stepping out of the gate with every public sector employee, every family member of a public sector employee,...
  • Great Moments in Political Theory

    From my political theory professor today: "You can't impregnate all future autonomous decisions through your actions with a first autonomous decision. You have to make love to each autonomous decision separately." Heh.
  • The Imaginary Center

    Via Political Wire , pollster Scott Rasmussen, annoyed at his post-2004 election irrelevance, has created the Hillary Meter, an enormously useless waste of webspace tracking, twice monthly, how close to the political center Americans think Hillary is. The obsession with centrism is, to me, the single most puzzling thing about presidential politics. It's as if the strategists and pollsters and commentators all sat down over Scrabble one night, decided the work they did was too hard, and unanimously agreed that, from then on, the middle would be the ideal and everybody could simply work off that. Then the pollsters would know what to poll, the strategists would know what to strategize, the commentators could pen their critiques, and everyone could hit the bars by seven. They did all this in a century where none of the great and effective leaders were middle-of-the-road kinda men. FDR, Kennedy, Johnson (got an enormous amount done), Reagan -- there was no obsession with moderation...
  • Polls

    Via Atrios , it looks like Arnold ain't doing so well : Swept into office in an unprecedented recall election in 2003, the Republican's approval rating fell to 43 percent from 59 percent in January, according to a Survey and Policy Research Institute poll released on Thursday. That's a bad approval rating for a Republican in a Democratic state, and it's coming at a bad time for Arnold. The past few weeks have seen challengers enter the race for governor, public employees mount an almost-armed uprising against him, and forced him to cave to the pressure and eliminate "pension reform" from the agenda. Arnold looks -- dare I say it? -- vulnerable. Speaking of polls, the WSJ/NBC released one (warning: PDF) that asked whether the Democrats should help Bush pass his proposals in bipartisan fashion or oppose the right to keep them from going too far. The answer? Oppose the right, 63%-30%.