Archive

  • Indecent Proposal

    The Supreme Court, 1942: There are certain well defined and narrowly limitd classes of speech, [such as the obscene and the libelous, that] are no essential part of any exposition of ideas and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality (as written in Geoffrey R. Stone's Perilous Times : Free Speech in Wartime). With that said, t his year the Super Bowl, unlike many primetime programs, treated its viewers to tasteful programming. Paul McCartney’s wholesome tunes replaced Nelly’s crotch-grabbing, Janet’s peek-a-boo, and Timberlake’s Musketeer mime sex. The commercials, for the most part, refrained from crotch shots, crude jokes, and booby bonanza: the Super Bowl was a primetime event the whole family could sit down and enjoy without awkward “how to explain this one/I’ll explain when you’re older” moments. I suggest the Democrats pounce on this opportunity and...
  • My Pet Monster (truck)

    It is 9 feet high, 21 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, 7 tons, can carry nearly 6 tons in load, and gets 8 miles per gallon…“It” is the new International CXT . In fact, the CXT has a gross vehicle weight rating of 25,999 (compared to the Hummer’s 10,300 lbs.) which is exactly, and purposely, one pound under the 26,000 GVWR minimum requiring a commercial driver’s license. Since the popularity of these behemoths appears to be feverishly expanding, I find it appropriate to transcend the obvious gas-guzzling and pure absurdity objections. First, should there be (is there already?) an extra tax or registration fee (both?) on these and alike vehicles simply due to the enormous wear and tear they will inflict on the roads? There is a “toll” in toll roads because it makes sense to tax the drivers who use those particular paths for transportation. So, should governments charge an extra fee for vehicles that will be unnecessary burdens on the health of public roads? Second, think about it, the GVWR is...
  • Site Stuff and Introducing Steve

    I know the quality's been down a bit over the last week. The posts are shorter, there are fewer of them, and I've increased the spelling errors. Apologies all around. Like a good liberal, I'm going to blame it on something, mainly my decision to graduate early. I'm swamped with job applications, course work, and general craziness. The Prospect Fellowship in particular is trial by fire, requiring a 15-page critique of the most recent issue. As George Bush would aver, it's hard work (I'm a bipartisan excuse-maker). So rather than try to complete all this amid blog posting and massive hyperventilation, I'm taking a break this weekend and going to Pismo Beach with the girlfriend, where we will proceed to ignore each other as we madly tap out our respective applications. Should be fun. As for the site, it'll be hopping, maybe even improved. Rather than leave it dormant, I'm turning it over to my friend (and frequent commentor) Steve Cieslewicz. He was an intern at the Washington Monthly...
  • iLife

    Mark Schmitt's got an excellent, thought-provoking post on the changing face of membership. Contra the Dean campaign and NARAL, he believes the era of dues-paying, weekly-meeting organization has passed, and we should start asking what's next. He's right. I was as enthused as everyone else about the Dean for America MeetUps, but they survived only till the campaign's close, and only thrived while their buzz was enormous. The Democracy for America meetings that succeeded them were a pale shadow of their former selves. And I don't know anyone my age -- including me -- who's a due-paying member of any group, even those we distinctly agree with. What's next? I fear it's this. Virtual community. Mark's observation that he simply doesn't have time to hit up a weekly or monthly meeting is well-taken, and much echoed. But he does have time to run a blog, and he's certainly enjoying the comments and community that have grown up around it. Zooming out, DailyKos has created a hell of a community...
  • Great Minds, Etc...

    Brad Plumer jumps on a hobbyhorse of mine , namely, the need to build more medical schools. There are a mere 125 in the nation, and the competition is so intense that a B here and there disqualifies you. Fast forward a few years and doctors are so overloaded that they make patients wait hours but can only offer them minutes. Residents are in such high demand that they work inhuman shifts and their exhaustion leads to mistakes. Sounds like we need a supply increase. Further, can anybody explain why the pre-med track makes sense for anyone who wants to be a primary care physician? In that job, which mainly consists of treating basic cases, reassuring harried parents, and referring complex problems, interpersonal abilities are the most important attribute. Yet the training ground is an absurd load of sciences that prizes the workhorses above the socially-adept. Maybe we can create a separate track for those wanting non-surgical, non-specialized, non-research based practices? Maybe we can...
  • I Want A Reality-Based Electorate

    Via Kevin Drum , this is really the most amazing graphic I've ever seen: At any given time, significantly more than half of Americans think the government's primary outlays are coming from food stamps and foreign aid. Meanwhile, back in reality-land, Americans spend $32 billion on food stamps and $7.4 billion on foreign aid, all this coming out of a $2.5 trillion budget. The two combined account for about 1.5% of spending. I wonder which party could have misled them so?
  • Knowledge Will Set You Free

    From the WaPo's recent poll : We've done an excellent job explaining that private accounts aren't a solution to Social Security's economic problems, now we need to broadcast how they'd worsen them. But while we have a task, Bush has a dilemma. His whole spiel on private accounts rests on convincing Americans of a crisis. But Americans don't believe private accounts will solve the crisis, so his argument is disconnected from his solution. Sucks for him.
  • Bush Gets it Right

    I know this question is becoming trite, but what the hell is Friedman talking about? There will be a lot of trial and error in the months ahead. But this is a hugely important horizontal dialogue because if Iraqis can't forge a social contract, it would suggest that no other Arab country can - since virtually all of them are similar mixtures of tribes, ethnicities and religions. That would mean that they can be ruled only by iron-fisted kings or dictators, with all the negatives that flow from that. Excuse me? First of all, George W. Bush has repeatedly stated that he disagrees with folks who think the brown people can't have democracies, and you are not going to question the single thing that unites us. But more to the point, if the Iraqi attempt at reform falls through, that'll mean nothing more than that they didn't succeed. Maybe the killing factor wasn't color, but American occupation and the divisions we caused. Maybe it was Saddam's legacy. Maybe it was corruption in Kurdistan...
  • Dem-On-Dem Violence, and Why I Love It

    Well this is nice to hear: Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) was asked at a CATO conference in Washington yesterday whether he had persuaded any Democrats to back his plan to rescue Social Security from its financial troubles...A questioner from the audience, stressing his own Democratic credentials, said he believed Ryan's plan should attract members of his own party and wondered whether the Wisconsin lawmaker had secured any Democratic sponsors. Ryan said he had been working with friends on the "other side of the aisle" who were favorable toward his solution, but he faced an enormous problem: intense pressure on his colleagues from the minority leadership. "We were in planning stages [with friendly Democrats]," said Ryan. But each essentially told him: "I like what you're doing. I like this bill. I think it's the right way to go. But my party leadership will break my back. The retribution that they are promising us is as great as I have ever seen. We can't do it." And any wingers who judge...
  • Laws and the Liars Who Write Them

    It got basically no coverage yesterday (North Korea has nukes! Charles marrying Camilla! Not necessarily in that order!), but the Senate passed a significant class-action lawsuit bill. The legislation forces many class-action suits out of states and into federal courts, where judges (many, many, many of them appointed by Republicans, simply because they've held the White House for the majority of the last 30 years) are less sympathetic, and less moved by local concerns. In addition, the bill has an odd flaw in it: A Supreme Court ruling from the 80's barred federal courts from considering cases where the affected states have materially different laws, which means many of these lawsuits will be thrown out as neither state nor federal courts are allowed to deal with them. It's not so much that the bill's bad in concept as that it's poorly designed. Legislation shouldn't have gaping flaws like that, at least not unless it's being passed more to satisfy an interest group and less to...

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