Archive

  • Infinite Horizon

    Apropos of nothing save my annoyance, I did a little research on the "infinite-horizon" modeling today. "Infinite horizon" projections are where we get numbers like Social Security's supposed $11 trillion deficit. It's a way of forecasting costs off into the great beyond. It's also a load of crap. President Bush's tax cuts, if judged via an infinite horizon projection, would cost us $20 trillion, and his Medicare plan would be coming to your house to eat your children. But the infinite horizon is BS. While trawling around the internets to figure out exactly how it works, I found a good Fact-Check.org article explaining that, well, it doesn't. Because it's so inaccurate, it was never included until the 2003 Trustees Report, which apparently was when the Bush administration decided to add fangs and a pitchfork to the Social Security numbers. A technical panel advising them on the inclusion on the number said it's misleading as a dollar estimate and should instead be expressed as a...
  • Gonna Party Like It's 1994!

    Grassley's admission that privatization probably won't happen -- indeed, that no bill is likely to move forward -- drives that stake nice and deep into the privateers' heart. This is like Moynihan's reluctance to push Clinton's health care bill and his public disparagement of its chances, the combination of which did much to kill the plan. Go Grassley! Update : The reason this is such a big deal, which I forgot to mention, is that Grassley, as chair of the Finance Committee, is charged with writing the bill and bringing it to the floor. He's the guy . And the guy thinks there'll be no bill.
  • Bad Matt, Bad Dean

    Matt's explosion of opprobrium towards my earlier post on Dean deserves a response. Suffice to say there are two schools of thought on Dean's ascension to the chairmanship: mine, which is that Dean is a highly effective media representative and his primary role should be spokesperson, and Matt's, which is that Dean is an enormously ineffective media rep and should keep his goddamn head down so he doesn't paint the left as liberal. Matt's quite pleased that Dean's proving invisible and apparently focusing on the technocratic responsibilities of the job because he believes that if Dean jumps onto the scene Rove will "wet his pants", assumedly from glee rather than fear. Maybe so. But likely not. To start, Dean is very good in front of the cameras. Aside from the Scream, which has colored a lot of perceptions, Dean was an enormously capable speaker and debater. More to the point, he was brilliantly clear at delivering his message. That was, if you remember, the center of the pro-Dean...
  • Pro-Bucks

    Unlike Brad Plumer, I'm going to evince no shame in declaring myself objectively pro-Starbucks -- I love the place. And you know what? I don't even drink coffee. Yep -- shout it from the mountain, this decaffeinated blogger thinks independents are overrated and everyone should enjoy a local emanation of the Seattle-based giant. Starbucks offers all workers, whether full or part-time, paid vacation and sick leave, stock options, a 401(k) plan, and health benefits. The health plan is available with a mere 20-hours a week -- most places demand 40 -- and the company pays 75% of the costs, more than the federal government pays in its plans. Domestic partners are included in the coverage, and in fact were allowed in a year before unmarried heterosexual partners were brought into the fold. The plan also includes dental, vision, and mental care. My friends who work there love the job and consider themselves overpaid. My friends who work at independent shops generally dislike their work and...
  • Dean Don't Speak

    Speaking of Dean -- and freaks who read the blog from the bottom-up will know I am -- anyone else a bit surprised at the Chairman's decision to treat the press like he's a groundhog and they're his shadow? The rationale for making him chair rested pretty heavily on his facility in front of the cameras, but the reality of his chairmanship has been a continuing race away from the glare. So while I'm glad he's doing the grassroots thing and encouraged by his focus on local press, which is basically the only kind he's talking to, I fear this is less strategy than phobia. Folks who rode the Dean train the whole way through its slow-motion explosion have told me how the guv'nor's mistrust and paranoia of the national press rapidly expanded as the campaign fell. Dean, for his part, never liked the press, but at least he tolerated them. I'm a bit concerned that his past experiences have -- rightly! -- soured him on media reliability and fairness, so he's decided to circumvent them. But that...
  • Testify!

    Brad Plumer's post comparing religiously-motivated candidates with candidates attempting to appear religiously-motivated is all sorts of good, read it. But it touches on a personal crusade of mine, that "religious" is nothing more than a heuristic for moral. For Dean to strut on stage and begin talking about the Sadducees is a bit insane -- does he really think red-state voters are just waiting for him to reference an obscure Jewish sect that sought to restore the dominance of the High Priest? Worse, Dean's doesn't need religion, Kerry does. That's because we're not actually talking about religion here, we're talking about conviction. I'm not sure when we conflated the two, probably somewhere around the moment we cross-tabbed George Bush's poll numbers on conviction and religious faith. In any case, it's straight silly to believe that there's some horde of voters checking off each mention of Jesus on some Church-provided scorecard. It's just not happening. What is happening is that...
  • The End of DeLay

    And the Bugman's Shakespearian fall continues. Now it's the Wall Street Journal unsheathing the knives. The Wall Street Journal!
  • Now He Tells Us

    Well, kids, it has once again been real, but it's time for me to go. As always, your comments were thoroughly enlightening and a blast to read. Thanks for putting up with me. Here's hoping Ezra rocked some ass in that pillow fight deal he had going on. They have things like that here in NYC, except instead of pillows, we use hookers. Anyhow, since you've all been so indulgent of my every rhetorical whim, here's one more. I've written a short, one-act play, and I'd like to share it with you. I entitle it "Now, He Tells Us!" Make some popcorn, grab a loved one, and enjoy: Now, He Tells Us! A Short, One-Act Play By Daniel A. Munz Me: Paul, I have to say, I was a little dismayed by your appointment to head the World Bank. Paul: Really? Well, fuck you . Me: Right, of course. But there is one thing that makes me optimistic about your appointment. Paul: [Silence. Licks comb with anticipation.] Me: Wow, that’s weird. Anyway, what’s encouraging to me is that your passion for democratization...
  • Honesty Is Job One

    Dan Drezner takes issue with Richard Clarke’s NYT imes piece on Iran . Says the Drez: One would think that this would be the right moment for Clarke, a genuine expert on this question, to introduce his own thoughts on the matter. Instead, we get a “national dialogue” cop-out. That’s a close second behind “mobilize political willpower” on the list of Grand and Meaningless Policy Proposals. Before March 2003, I would have been with Drezner on this one. But whatever you think of Iraq, it has shown the Bush White House to be more hostile towards honest national dialogue than any modern wartime leader. Facts were fudged , the most reasonable critics were called unpatriotic , reality was ignored , and accountability was dispensed with completely . This was all allowed to happen, of course, because the American people were persuaded that Iraq/Al-Qaeda/terrorism/totalitarianism presented a life-ending, all-consuming, gut-busting, screaming threat to every American and their 2.3...
  • Hold Ourselves Accountable

    This is discouraging : Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army. Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. While none of the 17 will face any prosecution, one received a letter of reprimand and another was discharged after the investigations. I can't believe I have to make this point anymore, but: If we're going to go around spreading democracy, and accountability is a vital part of democracy, could we at least pretend to have some interest in accountability? As I think about this, I'm reminded of something Bill Clinton once said about debt releif: No one talks about it, because no one will lose an election...

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