THE EMPEROR'S NEW FALL COLLECTION. This is the time to bring out new lines of fall fashions, but I admit to some disappointment in finding out what the Bush administration want us to wear for the next season. It's the same thing they were showing last season, and the season before that, too: Wait Another Few Months Before Judging The Surge . Now, this is not how fashions are created. Things are supposed to change, to be different and exciting. I fear nobody will buy those new fashions, because they are not new. And what's with the rumored venue of the most important fashion show of the season: It's going to be on Fox News only? The advertising campaign for the shows hasn't been bad. But is this new line going to be named for Petraeus or for the White House? Inquiring minds want to know. --J. Goodrich
AND PETRAEUS GOETH. Ezra 's post titled "Petraeus Cometh" noted the obvious problems in this game about how to define the Iraq casualty figures so that the surge will look like working: the Iraqis will not make the same kind of fine-tuning when observing and experiencing violence in their own lives, and it is their experience which will finally determine whether the surge works or not. But the game of playing with the necessary information over here goes on. Think Progress reports that there might now be no written Petraeus report for general consumption, and reminds us that initially we were supposed to get such a report, but that later it was the White House who was going to write it. Now the report itself has become something only a few will read. This sounds in some ways very much like the shifting justifications for the Iraq war in the first place. It also sounds like a fairy tale I read as a child: Mouse as the Cat's Tailor , translated for your amusement here . --J. Goodrich.
AUDITIONING FOR THE ROLE. Now that Fred Thompson has dipped his toe in the waters of the presidential race we can go back to discussing the way he smells and the way he looks so very presidential. He also has lots of experience as a performer of authoritarian roles on television. Jay Carney at Swampland pointed out , in jest, that Thompson looks like a president. Perhaps he should get the role on just that basis? The Brits have an advantage over Americans in not having to select figureheads, given their royalty habit. I think we urgently need something similar, without those awkward historical connections, because otherwise it looks like we might as well have a beauty pageant for the president of the United States. Or perhaps we should elect a pair of presidents: one for the looks and aura of authority, the other one for the actual work. --J. Goodrich
GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK. Keith Olbermann 's Special Comments offer a fascinating echo of Edward R. Murrow 's eloquent news reports. At the same time, Olbermann's passionate voice is something that has long been missing on the liberal or progressive side of the political media. He talks unabashedly about values, many of them clearly progressive ones, in a climate where the term "values" is still used as shorthand for conservative sexual morals. Whether Olbermann's approach will remain the sole lefty media exception in the general political debate about values remains to be seen and probably will depend on the ratings he receives. I find him a refreshing and useful counterpoint not only to the conservatives who have kidnapped the idea of values altogether but also to the liberal/progressive tradition of focusing on policy questions rather than the values that drive certain policies. -- J. Goodrich
HEALTH CARE ECONOMICS 101. Good morning, class. Today's reading material is a guest post at Kevin Drum's place by Shannon Brownlee . She makes a case for controlling health care costs partly by changing the way physicians are compensated. A snippet of her argument: Last month Blue Cross put physician reimbursement cuts into effect in California and doctors were predictably outraged. "I don't know how anybody can afford to stay in practice and accept Blue Cross rates," Dr. Charles Fishman, a San Luis Obispo dermatologist told the Los Angeles Times. "Boo hoo" was undoubtedly the response from many readers. It's hard for the average American to feel much sympathy for a profession where the median income is $215,000 a year. Soon, Medicare will be making its own cuts, and we'll hear a new round of complaints from doctors. The point of all this cutting, of course, is to reign in spiraling health care costs. But reducing reimbursements to doctors never works in the long run, and you'd think...