Archive

  • Arms to China?

    Timothy Garton Ash is quite right on this -- the EU should be ashamed that it needed White House pressure to maintain its arms embargo on China. Readers know I'm something of an EU booster, mainly because I think their emphasis on diplomatic relations, morally defensible policy-making, and emphasis on soft power are proving pretty powerful as a counterweight to American belligerence. But you can't spend the days pasting gold stars on yourself and then turn around to try and ship armaments to a country with a terrible human rights record and a continuing habit of threatening to invade Taiwan. And to be talked down by Bush? Someone should be apologizing for allowing that gut punch to European dignity. As Garton writes, it's not that the US is blameless here -- we export 6.7% of China's weapons while Europe only provides 2.7%, and it's hard to fault the EU for wanting to cultivate the Dragon as a primary trading partner (this year, the EU passed America as China's largest source of trade...
  • The CAP Health Care Plan

    Now for the promised health care post. I don't claim to know as much about health policy as Brad does, so his objections -- that stopgap measures will make bad policy and we really need to go to single-payer -- should be taken seriously. Not only that, but I agree with them. Nevertheless, politics is the art of the possible (and occasionally, the train-wreck of the impossible), and there's simply not a constituency for single-payer right now. I should back up here. The CAP plan , released yesterday, works like this: • Coverage for All • Expand the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to anyone lacking job-based health insurance, any employer who wants to buy in, and any individual who wants to buy in. In addition, contributions to the plan would be capped at 5-7.5% of income so no one was felled by health care costs (good call, since the new bankruptcy law allows them to put you in the stocks if a health catastrophe takes out your finances). For those who paid over, a tax...
  • I Just Can't Outwonk Them

    Damn that Brad Plumer . Seriously -- I link and I link, and where does it get me? Fucking nowhere. I was all excited, everybody else had spent the day worrying about the Trustees Report, while my clever self had sidestepped them and read CAP's new health care plan . In full. And made notes in the margins. So while they all talked about solvency and proved smart today, I'd start out tomorrow with a preemptive strike, nailing the plan first and thus winning the wonk competition. But it was not to be. Plumer, who spent the day poring over the Trustees Report, decided to spend the night on the health care plan. Bastard. Anyway, he's got a lot of stuff on it and, though I do it grudgingly, I'd suggest you read it. But make no mistake -- I'll still be starting tomorrow with a nice big post on it. Though, at this rate, Matt'll beat me too and I'll just look like a poseur. So uh, FEHBP expansion, good call! Medicaid for more, I also like! Emphasis on preventive medicine, IT improvements,...
  • I'm Gross

    Sir Singer writes : I think I grew up fairly independent. I learned how to cook, clean, launder, etc., as a child, but most of my female friends who live on their own still have cleaner houses than me. They generally are more on their at-home shite than I am. Meanwhile, I’m a good cook, but a house that relied upon me for cleanliness would be a relatively sad site (just ask my roommates). I'll second that, with a caveat. I'm a really good cook. Don't believe me? Ask my girlfriend, she can field questions in the comments. I just am -- it's a very weird, highly unexpected talent. Things I make turn out way better than they have any right to. Further, I love cooking, so it works out well. But I hate cleaning. Worse, I don't think it important. Not so much cleaning up clutter, I know I need to do that, but mopping, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning mirrors, scrubbing sinks -- if I lived on my own, this stuff just wouldn't be done. Now, if someone tells me to do it and it's my share of the...
  • McCain’s Slide into Irrelevance Continues Unabated

    (I had a pretty wonky post on Social Security ready to go, but Ezra beat me to it, so instead you’re getting my latest rant on the increasingly useless John McCain. Enjoy!) Not to be all Seinfeldian about this or anything, but what is <b>with</b> this guy ?! Sen. John McCain said Tuesday the conclusions of a commission investigating intelligence failures on weapons of mass destruction should not lead to new questions about whether the Iraq war was justified. "America, the world and Iraq is better off for what we did in bringing democracy," McCain said. The Arizona Republican is a member of a commission formed by President Bush over a year ago after the chief weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, resigned saying "we were almost all wrong" about the pre-war estimates that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons. […] In a recent interview, McCain said the report by the panel led by Republican Laurence Silberman and Democrat Chuck Robb was worth the $10 million Congress...
  • Jokes You Shouldn't Laugh At But Do

    From Daniel Munz : With the 11th Circuit Court having rejected the Schiavos' appeal , it seems like the Supreme Court is their last recourse. It's sort of inconceivable to me that they would grant cert: Scalia, conservative as he is, must be vomiting at the federal overreach. (Also, does Rehnquist really want to hear a case about impending death?) Also funny, but in far better taste, is this analysis of which demographics read which newspapers.
  • Social Security Trustees Report

    That, of course, was the day's big news. Some minor fiddling allowed them to bring the insolvency date a year closer, from 2042 to 2041. An insignificant change economically, but highly significant politically, as it'll allow them to argue that things are getting worse and, in the worsd of Fafblog !, if we don't do anything Social Security will explode ! If I had time, I'd probably go through the report today and talk about things I don't quite understand. But I have to move down for Spring Break. So here's a cliff notes guide to what you need to know and links to what you need to read. As mentioned above, they moved the date of the trust fund's exhaustion (but I thought the fund didn't exist!) back a year, from 2042 to 2041. They also pushed back the beginning of the cash deficit (when we start using the trust fund) from 2018 to 2017. They seem to be doing this by revising death rates downward -- at this rate, there'll come a point when no one will ever die -- and by using absurdly...
  • Final Update

    So that went badly. Not only did I sleep through my alarm, losing desperately needed study time, but I also had the time of the final wrong, and so arrived an hour after it began. Not that that really mattered, as I didn't know enough to write for three hours anyway. Also, I'm sick. And if you've never sat for two hours leaking from your nose and wishing you had thought to bring a Kleenex, your only distraction your throbbing head and the answers you don't know, you really haven't lived. Anyway, the bright side is that this quarter is over and Spring Break beckons. Onward.
  • Republican Renaissance?

    On Monday, I asked where all the “real Republicans” are , and, if there are any of them left, whether they could be bothered to try to reclaim their party from the lunatics who have hijacked it. Well, it seems like the tenuous stitching that holds together the mangled remains of the party of Lincoln may well have been put under enough pressure by the Schiavo case that the unholy alliance between the corporatists and the Jesus freaks, upon which the GOP depends for its supremacy, is beginning to tear at the seams . Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the sole Republican to oppose the Schiavo bill in a voice vote in the Senate, said: "This senator has learned from many years you've got to separate your own emotions from the duty to support the Constitution of this country . These are fundamental principles of federalism." "It looks as if it's a wholly Republican exercise," Mr. Warner said, "but in the ranks of the Republican Party, there is not a unanimous view that Congress should be...
  • Today

    With a final and moving back down for break on my plate, I've got a pretty busy day ahead of me. So the inimitable Shakespeare's Sister will be helping out today and I'll be popping in and out as time allows. Update: Argh. Set my alarm for 6:30 so I could study more, and must have turned it off when it beeped. Now it's 8:30 and my final's in 30 minutes. I'm a tad screwed.

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