Archive

  • I Have Bad Taste

    Interesting post by Marshall Whittman noting the distinctly pre-9/11, peace-and-prosperity turn our politics have taken: American politics seems eerily similar to the period prior to 9/11. Before that horrible day, the focus of political discussion was a "culture of life" issue - stem cell research. A celebrity scandal surrounding the death of an intern and a Congressman was the fixation of all the television networks. And the President's domestic agenda was floundering. And then the world was transformed. We entered a new twilight struggle. The entire nation was on edge about another terrorist attack. We were at war. While our brave troops are making daily sacrifices in Iraq, our domestic politics has returned to "normalcy" - or what passes for that condition these days. The President is publicly more focused on privatizing social security and one tragic medical case than the war on terror. Our attention is consumed by Terri Schiavo, the Michael Jackson case and the horrible crisis...
  • Brad on Wolf

    Read Brad Setser's comments on the Wolfowitz nomination, they're the best I've read on the subject by far. If I was a normal person, I could leave it at that. But no, I'm a blogger, so here are some thoughts: • Brad's right that it makes little sense for the Europeans to block the Wolf. It'll just piss us off and, even if it worked, the next nominee would be no more palatable to them. Nor does it strike me as smart for Democrats to make an issue of him. There's not really an upside to nailing Bush's nominee for the World bank. Americans are not particularly interested in developmental economics and they don't quite care if some high-level Pentagon functionary is going to be taking care over in the area, at least he won't be mucking up Iraq anymore. That stands in contrast to the Bolton nomination, which really does place the Bush administration in flagrant, extreme opposition to a relatively popular institution. Americans generally think we should be working with the UN, so nominating...
  • Nominations

    So the Deserves More Attention category of the blogroll is stagnating, I think it's time to update. I'm probably going to take four or five of the folks there out and move them into the normal categories -- any traffic help they've gotten from that spot has probably exhausted itself. But who to put in? That's where you come in, rational blog consumers. Nominate your favorite smaller blogs in the comments and I'll go take a look. Remember too that these are the folks I draw from for weekend guest posters.
  • Pass Me The Pencil, Pardner

    Ed Kilgore sez : For the Big Papers, though, the problem is that there are so few editorial spots available, and, unlike their smaller competitors, no real market pressure to turn things over. I don't want to name names, but in my judgment, nearly half of the columnists in the Big Papers, most of them white men, are just filling up space with Left-Right CW that could be, and for all I know, may be written by a computer. Yep. I'm continually stunned that the big boys don't find themselves some edgier, funnier, more controversial writing. I can't stand Dowd, but she's the most popular of the Times op-ed columnists. Want to know why? Her prose doesn't make you want to kill yourself. My dislike for her exempts her skill with the pen, which is really considerable. But she's not the only one able to wield ink, and it'd be nice if the op-ed sheets would hire a few more bic-slingers to liven things up. Say what you will about them, but Wolcott, Hitchens, Sullivan -- these folks know how to...
  • The Problem With Santa Cruz

    Michael Schreiber makes a good point on the weird Santa Cruz phenomenon of being too at ease. When I mention I'm heading in that direction, I usually get a bunch of astonished comments of the "why'd you leave?" and "why don't you stay?" variety. And yes, it's true, I traded trees for traffic when I transferred from UCSC to UCLA. But it was worth it. Santa Cruz breeds a very certain sort of complacency. It's a beautiful enclave packed with rational liberals, adorable mystics, and restaurants where tofu is a viable culinary option rather than an ascetic sacrifice. That's all comfortable, no doubt, but it's hard to grow there, or it was for me. If you can afford it, when you're ready to relax and be satisfied, by all means, move to SC. But before that, vacations are your best bet. Living too easily can be its own sort of hardship. If you never have to argue a point, your mental muscles atrophy. If a place is so specifically set to your comfort zone, it becomes harder and harder to...
  • Because You Know What You Want to Hear More About? FEHBP.

    After seeing Brad's decided lack of enthusiasm about using the federal employee health benefits plan (FEHBP) as the starting point for increased coverage, I spent some time looking into the program. It's worth saying, first, that the authors of the CAP plan are pretty progressive folks, so they're not trying to derail universal health coverage by using a cruddy coverage mechanism that'll simply turn people off from government involvement. Anyway, the fruits of my googling were a few think tank papers mainly blasting FEHBP for skyrocketing premiums that were forcing users into cheaper plans. The AFL-CIO's paper believes -- surprise! -- that a primary answer is allowing workers to better bargain with their employers. This has done the job for postal employees, but it doesn't really help us here. They also reference a bill by Steny Hoyer that'd increase the governments share of FEHBP costs from a max of 75% to a max of 83%. Probably helpful. The paper from Families USA just castigates...
  • The Beauty of Mediocre Policy

    Responding to my health care post earlier, both Brad Plumer and Kevin Drum argue against incremental strategies and for a campaign towards single-payer. With such opposition, I think I should spend a few moments saying why I disagree. I recently read The System , an exhaustive account of the 1994 health care battle. Also recently, I've watched Bush's Social Security plan -- and yes, he has a plan -- get strung up by its thumbs. Taking the two together, I've basically concluded that it's impossible, in non-crisis (i.e, non New Deal or post-9/11) situations, to push sweeping legislation through Congress. The System, excuse my Broderian terminology, is really set-up, and at this partisan moment, primed, to resist and demagogue such change. And it succeeds. Americans didn't want Clinton's bill to be defeated. Which is to say, they wanted Clinton's bill to be defeated, but only their perception of it. If you actually polled them on what they wanted in a health care system, it tracked their...
  • Linking to Myself

    I've kind of buried it under other posts, but I spent the morning working up a great big analysis of CAP's new health care plan. If you haven't already, should give it a read.
  • Now They Tell Us

    Anybody remember this op-ed from Tommy Franks, attacking John Kerry during the election? The one where he said: take Mr. Kerry's contention that we "had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden" and that "we had him surrounded." We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time; still others suggested he was in Kashmir. Tora Bora was teeming with Taliban and Qaeda operatives, many of whom were killed or captured, but Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp. Yeah, me neither. But this admission from the Pentagon (via The Stakeholder ) brought it to mind: A commander for Osama bin Laden during Afghanistan's war with the Soviet Union who helped the al-Qaida leader escape American forces at Tora Bora is being held by U.S. authorities, a government document says. The document represents the first definitive statement from the Pentagon that bin Laden, the...
  • Revolutions for Everybody!

    What? Another revolution ? In Kyrgyzstan? It's like a flu going around (somewhere, Malcolm Gladwell heard that and raised a fist in solidarity). In any case, this one seems like it went pretty orderly, which is all you can hope for. I don't pretend to know anything about the situation in Kyrgyzstan so I've no way to evaluate this. Sue , who does, is pretty shocked, and adds that, atypically, it was spearheaded by rural villagers, which warms my proletarian heart. Anyway, huzzah! Power to the people! But have you ever seen an opposition leader less excited to be liberated from jail than this guy? That's a "who are you kids and why are you waking me up" look if I ever saw one. Caption him in comments if the spirit so moves you.

Pages