Archive

  • Killing Us Softly With His Song

    One of the really funny tricks on Social Security privatization is how sweetly it destroys Medicare. Medicare, of course, is on red-alert territory financially. Come 2006, premiums will have jumped 34% in two years, a hell of an increase. And the future doesn't look a whole lot better. I'm sorry, I should rephrase: the future is apocalyptic, Medicare is in terrible shape and, with premiums supposed to cover 25% of the program's costs, any jump in spending will drag your grandmother's monthly payments up with it. The only alternative is cutting what the government spends on Medicare services, which means cutting what doctors make and encouraging them to turn away the elderly. Okay, so what does this have to do with privatization? Well, for 2/3rds of the elderly, Social Security is their main source of income. For about 20%, it's their only source of income. So how, exactly, do you think most seniors are paying their Medicare premiums? Currently, there's a pretty direct transfer from...
  • Roxanne

    She's not just funny , but a whiz with the html, too. That's one work-intensive April Fools joke she's got...
  • More on Sudan

    You know what? I'm wrong, or at least three days too late. My post below on Sudan is pretty frustrated, but it stopped being accurate about three days ago. On March 29th, the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII (which allows them to use force), passed a pretty powerful resolution implementing much of what I mentioned below. A committee has been formed to identify the ringleaders and, in 30 days, freeze all their assets, end all their travel, and generally twist the screws on them. Of course, in 30 days, the folks who know themselves to be the bad guys can liquidate their foreign holdings and thus escape financial harm, but that's not really the point. This resolution, coming three days before the new one authorizing the use of the ICC, means the Security Council has finally gotten serious on Darfur. The next step is serious sanctions, and then it's a troop deployment. "People who know things", like the ICG, seem to think that the measures just undertaken will work, at least...
  • No Time for Celebration

    Praise thus lavished (see the post below), I need to protect my independent, contrarian credentials. So Brad's right that Democracy Arsenal's posts on Sudan seem a smidge unrelated to the issue. While I'm glad we've agreed upon a framework for trying the country's genocidally-inclined, the Janjaweed, the state-sponsored militia doing the genocidal thing, hasn't whipped out the machetes because they figured the the current controversy over how best to prosecute war criminals would let them slip under the radar. They're hacking away because they don't believe any powerful countries -- read the US, Britain or France -- are going to deploy troops and drag them in front of some higher authority. So celebrating our acceptance of the ICC, coming as it is in exactly the context Washington said they'd accept the Court, really doesn't merit much celebration. If we were serious about, well, anything aside from naked self-interest, we would have done something substantive to stop the bloodshed...
  • Where to Wonk

    So I know what you're thinking. All the bloggers are recommending these Democracy Arsenal folks, but you're just one wo/man -- they're five highly educated foreign policy professionals! How can you head over to their site blind? Where would you even begin? Calm down -- wonks are our friends, they should never scare you. But I realize you need a place to start, a test drive to decide if you'll buy, or at least copy-and-paste, the RSS feed. And I'm going to help by offering two superb places to begin: Lorelei Kelly's Stepford Wonks: Stepford Wonks are a vital feature of this echo chamber. Thirty years ago, conservatives decided that, because the left had academia, they needed to create an alternative universe for themselves. (Anybody who has worked in a university knows that academics are not remotely equipped for policy relevance, but anyway) Spun up conservatives proceeded to bankroll legions of organizations, think tanks, fellowships, institutions and the like, to carry forth the...
  • Fafblog!

    Link ! So a buncha pointy-headed sciencey types are all upset because we're "using up resources" and "destroying the world." Well, boo hoo hoo! Do you hear that sound, sciencey-types? It is the world's largest violin playing just for the exhaustion of our natural resources. The violin is made entirely of mulched rainforest and played by enormous smoke-belching engines of steel and concrete, standing a thousand feet tall in glorious tribute to the undying achievement that has been man's rape of the natural world! Tomorrow it will be scrapped and replaced with a newer, bigger violin with built-in wireless and dolphin-exploding capabilities
  • Shooting the Devil in the Back

    Jesse Lee thinks the sole force able to take out DeLay is Rove, and he can only do that by converting the GOP caucus. True, but I don't think he's got the power. The house leadership is surprisingly disconnected from the White House -- there's been no patron relationship there. Unlike Frist, Hastert and DeLay built this goddamn majority, and I'd be stunned if they let the transient occupants of the White House tell them how to run it. So I think Rove's meddling might prove counterproductive. But what about internal fears from the conference? That's trickier. If DeLay is dragging down the poll numbers and become a problem for the Republicans, would he allow Hastert and Blunt to put him out of his misery? My answer, again, is nope. You have to remember that DeLay was never a Gingrichite, he's never been a movement guy concerned with creating an enduring GOP majority in order to change the world. DeLay's ruthlessness, and thus his success, actually comes from his alternative motivation...
  • You Will Stop Buying Everything.

    Kevin Drum knocks George Will's support for a national sales tax out of the park: A national sales tax is an idee fixe among a certain type of conservative lunatic, sort of like the gold standard and the Trilateral Commission. George Will might be dumb enough to fall for it, but the rest of us shouldn't. It's just a plain stupid idea. But you know what? I wish Republicans would quit gabbing about it and actually implement it. They'd then be out of power for about a century or so, which might give the rest of us a chance to do some good. So go ahead Rep. Linder: make my day. Go read his reasoning and marvel over what a fun debate this would be to have .
  • Thoughts on Hegemony

    Brad Plumer's got a characteristically thoughtful post on why Americans want to be the dominant global power. I mean, really, what good does it do us? And, from a logical standpoint, he's right. In fact, I'd much rather be a highly-developed country on the second-tier of world power (like Japan or France) than America. So long as you believe the global strongman to be basically benevolent -- and, odd bouts of French-hating and Japanophobia aside, we've proved ourselves such -- you're really in much better shape letting someone else worry about supporting a massive army, purchasing all the latest weapons technology, and dashing across the globe when the bat eagle signal dances across the sky. You can save your cash and create a nice, comfy social net, full of health care for all and long, paid vacations. But, if you're an American, and you've got even an ounce of nationalism in you, you'd rather see a world dominated by you than anyone else. You are good, you don't believe there to be...
  • Winning Without Gains

    So back to the Democracy Corps poll (no Josh Marshall-esque, never-ending cliffhangers here!). Let me go through the relevant results and then get to thoughts. The Republican party rates about 4% higher than we do, while Bill Clinton rates a smidge higher than the Republican party and George W clocks in at .4% above him (yes, I know we're leaving statistical significance here). Weirdly, when asked who they'll vote for in the 06 midterms, a Democrat or a Republican, respondents chose the good guys over the not-so-good, 46%-45%. When thinking about the presidential, Hillary beats Jeb, 50%-47%, and the hypothetical Bill v. George match-up gives Clinton the easy edge, 51%-46%. When asked what direction the country should be heading in, Bush's or something totally different, totally different won effortlessly, 52%-45%. From there we go to comparative polls, the graphs of which I posted here . They show, basically, that the Democrats win on specific domestic issues, but Republicans win on...

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