• Cryptic Linking

    Okay, now to explain my cryptic link to the Powers' column . I was vague because I was dashing out to class, so apologies for that. As for why you need to read it, there were two reasons: one self-interested, one altruistic. Starting with the second, Powers engaged the sheer cultural cost of all who've fallen in the last year, a task that no one else (that I know of) has been willing to face up to. From Bellows to Sontag to Thompson to Kennan, a truly stunning number of leading intellectual lights have died recently, and few have been brave enough to broach what that means. I've kept wanting to say something about it, but nothing I wrote matched the task, or even came close. Draft after draft of my efforts were discarded, and each time I got more frustrated that no one else seemed to be taking a shot at it. Maybe that's because, from my Gen Y vantage point, intellectual giants don't really exist anymore, save for a few relics whose heyday was 40 years ago, and I find that tragic. That...
  • Old Guard Turns New Again

    You know the internet has lost its "new" when Ted Kennedy makes a major entrance into it. But the net is old, he's created a sweet site , and you should look. As an aside, I don't like the Kennedy condescension that so many seem to exhibit. I assume it's a combination of the guy's distasteful past (adulterer, alcoholic, general weirdness) and the right's unrelenting campaign against him, but I wish we'd stop buying into it. Kennedy's worked his ass off as a progressive legislator for far longer than most of us have been alive, and while he's been wrong on a fair number of important fights, he's also been a lone voice for unpopular, wholly correct causes and radical, necessary legislation. So while I don't like everything the guy has done, I respect much of it, and in any case I wish we'd not let the press and the Republicans browbeat us into disowning one of our own whenever we're in polite company. I'll take Ted Kennedy over Tom Coburn any old day.
  • Why Medicine Sucks in '96*

    In a post attacking nationalized health care, Sebastian Holsclaw says something that's simply wrong : It takes a lot of work to become a doctor. It takes a lot of time and effort. Few people are going to put the time in if they aren't well compensated. It just ain't true. In France, physicians make about $55,000 (US dollars), around 1/3rd what American doctors make. So is there an enormous doctor shortage? Not in the least. France has 3.3 practicing physicians per 1,000 residents, America has 2.4. This is a common and, frankly, inexplicable oversight opponents of nationalized health care make. So let's say it slow: money is not the sole factor dictating occupational choices. Enormous swarms of folks sign up for endless years of education in order to make paltry sums in academia. I'm heading to Washington to -- hopefully! -- make an absurdly low wage as a writer. And you know what? I don't expect that I'll ever make much money in the profession. People go work for NGO's, in politics,...
  • Grace for the Pope

    I don't think Pope Ratzinger is going to be my favorite person in the world, but going after him for something he did when he was 14 is really a bit much. Ratzinger's 78, if we can find some anti-semitism in, say, his last 20 years, a case can be made. If we could find him criticizing the Pope's decision to apologize for Catholic inaction during the Holocaust, a stink should be raised. But the guy was a 14-year old in Nazi Germany, I don't even hold it against him if he joined the Hitler youth voluntarily. Propaganda, peer pressure, and government coercion are powerful forces, particularly for a kid, and while I expect a certain level of moral leadership from God's earthly emissary, I don't expect it to have been on display before his balls dropped. Thinking back to the election, what pissed me off most about the coverage of Kerry was the time spent unearthing aloofness and puck-hogging tendencies from his childhood. I can't stand that stuff. So, to me, it wasn't fair when they did it...
  • If You Love Me, You Will

    Read this article . No, don't ask questions, just read it . I'll tell you why later.
  • The Health of Nations: Oh, Canada!

    Next on our tour of health care systems would have to come Canada. I've been debating whether or not to do them because their setup is so well-known, on the other hand, it's also something of an anomaly that's often romanticized to a degree it shouldn't be, so it seems worth the effort. If you're new to the series, you can find France here and England here . Off we go. Da Basics: Canada care is unapologetic, no-holds-barred single-payer. The single-payer, by the way, is not Canada as a whole, but each specific province, so it's not quite as monolithic as we think. It's financed by taxes, but the taxes vary from province to province, so there is a certain amount of variation in how the system pays its bills. But I'm going to stay away from that -- keeping you guys still for health policy is dicey enough, if I start throwing in tax policy, my blog will have tumbleweeds blowing through it (and maybe a shoot-out in the saloon, but that's another story). Like England, Canada's insurance...
  • Bolton

    I know I should be saying more about John Bolton but I'm a bit lost for words. Yesterday was hell of a victory -- though of the battle, not war, sort -- and I never expected it. I admit, I thought Steve Clemons' all-Bolton, all-the-time, work was informing, but quixotic, and I figured we'd score a few rhetorical points in the hearings but the nominee would sail through anyway. Apparently not. And throwing a wall in front of Bolton means more than the delay and possible defeat of an unqualified UN ambassador, it's as much about the nuclear option and the Senate's right to reject nominees as it is about the man himself. So this one's important, folks, and for the first time it looks like we're in spitting distance of a win. If you want to follow the doings (and you should), Steve Clemons over at The Washington Note has been, and remains, your man. There's not been a non-Bolton post over there in months, and though that's been a disappointment, it's certainly paying off. For analysis,...
  • Reasons This Country is Going to Need to Fix Its Health Care System and Fast

    From the LA Times : General Motors Corp. on Tuesday posted a first-quarter net loss of $1.1 billion, its worst quarter in 13 years, due to disappointing sales in the crucial North American automotive market and soaring healthcare costs. ... Other analysts, though, said GM could be holding back as part of its negotiations on healthcare costs with the United Auto Workers. Last week, the union said it had no intention of revising its current labor contract to help the automaker lower medical expenses but would do what it could within the agreement to help lower costs. GM has warned that its U.S. healthcare costs could grow to $5.8 billion this year. Making things look as bleak as possible would help GM persuade the union to pass on some of the company's healthcare costs to its hourly workers, analysts said. ... Although healthcare costs are the company's principal long-term concern, getting its product mix right for the competitive U.S. market is the more immediate concern, he said...
  • Whoa

    A few days ago, CAP released their quarterly Taxpayer's Report, assessing America's direction on a variety of metrics. It's really quite a stunning indictment of the administration. Check it out.
  • Transitional Popes

    If I were the new Pope, I'd be feeling a bit weird right now. In fact, not only now; I'd be downright nervous whenever someone glanced at their watch in my presence. What's the rush? With all the commentary focusing on Ratzinger's status as a transitional (read: likely to die soon) Pope, he's got to be feeling the reality of mortality pretty acutely. You'd think this transitional idea would be something the Cardinals could keep to themselves, but apparently not. Instead, Ratzinger emerged Pope amid ecstatic cries of "He's so old!" and "I bet his health is failing" and, the current crowd favorite, "the real question is who'll be the next Pope when he dies, which will be soon?" Odd folk, these Catholics are. They take all the fun out of promotion.