Archive

  • Grace for the Pope

    I don't think Pope Ratzinger is going to be my favorite person in the world, but going after him for something he did when he was 14 is really a bit much. Ratzinger's 78, if we can find some anti-semitism in, say, his last 20 years, a case can be made. If we could find him criticizing the Pope's decision to apologize for Catholic inaction during the Holocaust, a stink should be raised. But the guy was a 14-year old in Nazi Germany, I don't even hold it against him if he joined the Hitler youth voluntarily. Propaganda, peer pressure, and government coercion are powerful forces, particularly for a kid, and while I expect a certain level of moral leadership from God's earthly emissary, I don't expect it to have been on display before his balls dropped. Thinking back to the election, what pissed me off most about the coverage of Kerry was the time spent unearthing aloofness and puck-hogging tendencies from his childhood. I can't stand that stuff. So, to me, it wasn't fair when they did it...
  • If You Love Me, You Will

    Read this article . No, don't ask questions, just read it . I'll tell you why later.
  • The Health of Nations: Oh, Canada!

    Next on our tour of health care systems would have to come Canada. I've been debating whether or not to do them because their setup is so well-known, on the other hand, it's also something of an anomaly that's often romanticized to a degree it shouldn't be, so it seems worth the effort. If you're new to the series, you can find France here and England here . Off we go. Da Basics: Canada care is unapologetic, no-holds-barred single-payer. The single-payer, by the way, is not Canada as a whole, but each specific province, so it's not quite as monolithic as we think. It's financed by taxes, but the taxes vary from province to province, so there is a certain amount of variation in how the system pays its bills. But I'm going to stay away from that -- keeping you guys still for health policy is dicey enough, if I start throwing in tax policy, my blog will have tumbleweeds blowing through it (and maybe a shoot-out in the saloon, but that's another story). Like England, Canada's insurance...
  • Bolton

    I know I should be saying more about John Bolton but I'm a bit lost for words. Yesterday was hell of a victory -- though of the battle, not war, sort -- and I never expected it. I admit, I thought Steve Clemons' all-Bolton, all-the-time, work was informing, but quixotic, and I figured we'd score a few rhetorical points in the hearings but the nominee would sail through anyway. Apparently not. And throwing a wall in front of Bolton means more than the delay and possible defeat of an unqualified UN ambassador, it's as much about the nuclear option and the Senate's right to reject nominees as it is about the man himself. So this one's important, folks, and for the first time it looks like we're in spitting distance of a win. If you want to follow the doings (and you should), Steve Clemons over at The Washington Note has been, and remains, your man. There's not been a non-Bolton post over there in months, and though that's been a disappointment, it's certainly paying off. For analysis,...
  • Reasons This Country is Going to Need to Fix Its Health Care System and Fast

    From the LA Times : General Motors Corp. on Tuesday posted a first-quarter net loss of $1.1 billion, its worst quarter in 13 years, due to disappointing sales in the crucial North American automotive market and soaring healthcare costs. ... Other analysts, though, said GM could be holding back as part of its negotiations on healthcare costs with the United Auto Workers. Last week, the union said it had no intention of revising its current labor contract to help the automaker lower medical expenses but would do what it could within the agreement to help lower costs. GM has warned that its U.S. healthcare costs could grow to $5.8 billion this year. Making things look as bleak as possible would help GM persuade the union to pass on some of the company's healthcare costs to its hourly workers, analysts said. ... Although healthcare costs are the company's principal long-term concern, getting its product mix right for the competitive U.S. market is the more immediate concern, he said...
  • Whoa

    A few days ago, CAP released their quarterly Taxpayer's Report, assessing America's direction on a variety of metrics. It's really quite a stunning indictment of the administration. Check it out.
  • Transitional Popes

    If I were the new Pope, I'd be feeling a bit weird right now. In fact, not only now; I'd be downright nervous whenever someone glanced at their watch in my presence. What's the rush? With all the commentary focusing on Ratzinger's status as a transitional (read: likely to die soon) Pope, he's got to be feeling the reality of mortality pretty acutely. You'd think this transitional idea would be something the Cardinals could keep to themselves, but apparently not. Instead, Ratzinger emerged Pope amid ecstatic cries of "He's so old!" and "I bet his health is failing" and, the current crowd favorite, "the real question is who'll be the next Pope when he dies, which will be soon?" Odd folk, these Catholics are. They take all the fun out of promotion.
  • The Health of Nations: England

    Welcome to the second installment of The Health of Nations (though it's the first one to sport a clever title). I'm your host, Ezra, and I'll be taking you on a deadly-dull tour through England's health care system. An uninteresting topic set in a country known for its dullness, should be a party. And speaking of the party, you don't want to show up not knowing anybody. So if you missed yesterday's edition on France , you might want to give it a look-see. Da' Basics: Britain's health care system finds its roots in a document called the Beveridge report. The report argued that the health care system Britain had in the 40's -- which covered about half the country and used political patronage as its sorting mechanism -- should be combined with the rest of the country's fragmented social programs and administered in a uniform way. Thus the National Health Service was created. The NHS is mostly funded through taxes -- 82% of it is, to be exact. Of the remaining, 13% comes from employer-...
  • Well Put

    Harry Reid sent Mitch McConnell a letter on "the nuclear option" today. It's good enough to reprint in full, text below the fold:
  • Da New Pope

    Well ladies and gents, looks like we have a new Pope. German frontrunner Joseph Ratzinger was chosen today, taking the name Benedict XVI. So who is he? Well we've got this profile from the Washington Post, which says: He wrote a letter of advice to U.S. bishops on denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights, which some observers viewed as a slam at Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry. He publicly cautioned Europe against admitting Turkey to the European Union and wrote a letter to bishops around the world justifying that stand on the grounds that the continent is essentially Christian in nature. In another letter to bishops worldwide, he decried a sort of feminism that makes women "adversaries" of men. ... He is a lightning rod for church liberals who see the hierarchy as reactionary. Ratzinger was active in stamping out liberation theology, with its emphasis on grass-roots activism to fight poverty and its association with Marxist movements. He once...

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