Tuesday, June 30

Retort of the day

Pat Buchanan is a Christian creationist, who says: "Darwinism is not science. It is faith. Always was."

LGF counters:
It’s interesting that paleo-knuckleheads like Buchanan think the most devastating rebuttal of all to the theory of evolution is that it’s ... just like religion.

"Thanks for Sharing, Governor. Now Shut Up."

Kathy Kattenburg deadpans:
Gov. Mark Sanford and Maria Belen Chapur slept with each other more times than he had previously said. Actually, if he’s going to be honest, she is his soul mate. He does promise, though, that he will try to “fall back in love” with his wife.

One other thing, as long as he’s talking. He has had “a handful” of other relationships with women who were not his wife. These relationships “crossed lines” but did not include sex.

That could change, though.
In calling for everyone to shut up and leave Mark Sanford's personal life alone, it seems I underestimated the degree to which he's willing to discuss it publicly. It's difficult to give someone privacy when they're shouting their relationship history from the rooftops--seems the man is stupider than I thought.

The best interpretation I can think of is that speaking of relationships that "crossed lines" is his idea of preemptive damage control, so he doesn't get blindsided by new revelations from whoever else he fooled around with.

Religious views of sex

The Roman Catholic stance on homosexuality is neutral or unclear? News to me.

Anyhow, their other positions are more amusing:

The worst is behind us

Mark Perry shares some facts:
Number of bank failures this year so far: 45

Total Assets of the 45 failed banks: $36.965 billion

Total Bank Assets of All 8,246 FDIC-insured banks: $13.542 trillion

Failed Bank Assets as a Percent of Total Bank Assets: .27% (or about 1/4 of 1%)

Bottom Line: The worst of the banking crisis is behind us, the percent last year was 2.69%.

And then there were sixty

Coleman finally concedes, so Democrats will have 60 Senators, including independents who caucus with them.

Quote for the day

TMV on democratic coups:
Once the military has left the barracks, the potential exists for the situation to spin out of control, regardless of the good intentions of everyone involved.
Now if only people would apply that same caution to the non-military, non-barracks-dwelling branches of the state.

Health benefits and WWII

I've repeatedly called the employer-based healthcare system a "relic of the industrial era", which just goes to show what I know. I hadn't heard this:
One of the most ridiculous things about the current American health care system is the accidental legacy of the price controls of WWII which led companies to promote health care benefits since they could not compete on price. The weird and unnecessary tie between health care benefits and working distorts all sorts of possible ways of dealing with lack of insurance.
It's almost as if government intervention with price controls can have unintended consequences.

But pro-government progressives now blame insurance companies instead of the market distortions that created this mess? Say it ain't so!

Basically we'd be much better off if employers would abolish all benefits and negotiate monetary compensation only, letting people purchase their own plans from some kind of health insurance exchange. That would foster more valuable competition, with people learning which insurers are the trustworthy ones and which aren't. Just like competition works everywhere else.

Of course, if you want to make sure people aren't denied on the basis of pre-existing conditions, you have to legislate that. There will be resistance, because it will make the cost of everyone else's care go up. But it's much better than forcing the same outcome with a national, non-market system like Britain or Canada's that accomplishes the same thing by obfuscating health costs (i.e. collecting taxes instead of premiums, and not allowing people to purchase the level of care they want).

Debating the public option

Three progressives have at it. Reading someone put forth Medicare for All as a serious proposal and also argue that centralizing 1/6th of US GDP outlays would be a positive step is disturbing.  Yet they would have us believe that a public plan is not a trojan horse for single-payer.  Piffle.

Obama's speech to gay rights groups

Andrew has the text.

Basically there is no news in it, but it is moving, and a welcome fresher for the many of us who've been worried about Obama's snail pace on this front.

All in good time, I suppose. Contra Yglesias, I think the longer Obama waits on furthering gay rights, the easier it will be.

It's not that the military is too busy--they'll always be busy, as Yglesias correctly points out. It's that the Obama administration is busy. There are many other issues of consequence for them to tackle that, unlike gay rights, won't become politically easier over time and are thus a better use of their political capital for now.

Monday, June 29

Ricci and judicial politics

publius has an interest post on the politics of Ricci. My (quite amateurish) takeaway from the commentaries I've been reading is threefold:

a) The circuit ruling that Sonia Sotomayor decided applied the correct precedent, notwithstanding how unfair the reverse discrimination seemed to many of us.

b) The Supreme Court overturned this with a new rule, which is their prerogative. This does not reflect on the appropriateness of the circuit decision, which was correct given the precedents. But the new rule is a welcome development for those of who want to live in a more colorblind world.

c) After devising this rule, publius argues, the court made a procedurally innappropriate summary judgement, not sending the case back to trial for more fact finding, which he deems "pure politics".

Neocon humor

Quoth Michael Goldfarb:
In the course of Donald Morrison's review of Au Revoir to All That by Michael Steinberger, we learn that McDonald's is the largest private employer in all of France, which is sort of like being the largest provider of health insurance in North Korea, but nonetheless, it feels like a major triumph for American culture and cuisine.

I once ate at the McDonald's right next to the Arc de Triomphe. My quarter pounder tasted like hegemony.
(ht Will)

MSM whores

(ht Above the Borderline)

"Terrible precedents"

Larison calls Obama's response an "incredible bungling". Leftists who'd developed a Strange New Respect for Larison's criticism of neocons and nationalists will probably re-plug their ears on this one.

More on the latest Mankiw-Krugman spat

Though he's partial to Krugman, Nate Silver gives Mankiw a fairer hearing and also discusses Wyden-Bennett as an alternative to the public plan.

I've linked to their bipartisan Healthy Americans Act in the past, when lefties were upset it was being considered.

If you're a centrist who has no particular love for insurance companies but also doesn't want a public plan, this is your bill.  You can also read about it on Wyden's site.

"The Arbiter of Ignorance"

Greg Mankiw counters Paul Krugman:
In his latest post, Paul writes, "the standard competitive market model just doesn’t work for health care: adverse selection and moral hazard are so central to the enterprise that nobody, nobody expects free-market principles to be enough."

In my view, these comments are just off point. The Obama administration says it wants a public insurance plan that will compete on a level playing field with private plans (that is, without taxpayer subsidies). Is there any cogent economic analysis that suggests that such a policy addresses problems of adverse selection and moral hazard? None that I know. If it has to stand on its own financially, the public plan has no special advantage in addressing these issues.
"off point", hmm. For my part, I accused Krugman of beating a strawman.

"Forgive Mark Sanford"

For someone who thinks everyone should shut up about Sanford's affair and leave him be, I seem to have managed an oddly high number of posts about it. But I want share Megan McCain's take, which seems quite right:
[..] what goes on in Governor Sanford’s personal life, I believe, just isn’t relevant to his role as a public official. The problem I see, like most problems I have with politics, goes back to the same thing—the hypocrisy of it all. One thing making everyone so mad, myself included, are the clips being played of Governor Sanford publicly blasting former President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. It looks horribly hypocritical. And it is. We have to stop requiring that our politicians live at such a high level of moral superiority, as if they are infallible creatures. Let me assure you, they are not.

[..] Now I do not condone Governor Sanford’s actions. Far from it. I am a big believer in the sanctity of marriage. And how the entire drama played out was far too intimate for me. Those excruciatingly personal emails. His strange and emotional press conference. Jenny Sanford’s long, Gospel-quoting press release. All of it is an uncomfortable glimpse into the inner workings of a political marriage and we as Americans eat it up with a spoonful of schadenfreude. Was Governor Sanford wrong to have an affair? As a husband, of course he was. But should we burn him at the stake and make him leave office? I don’t believe so. Because sex and politics are two very different things, even if sometimes they seem hopelessly entwined. What he does in his personal life, I believe, would have nothing to do with how he balances his state’s budget or conducts business.

Sunday, June 28

American and Iranian nationalism

Via hilzoy, Larison:
"Americanists believe that any statement from the President that fails to build up and anoint Mousavi as the preferred candidate is discouraging to Mousavi and his supporters, because they apparently cannot grasp that being our preferred candidate is to be tainted with suspicion of disloyalty to the nation. It is strange how nationalists often have the least awareness of the importance of the nationalism of another people. Many of the same silly people who couldn’t say enough about Hamas' so-called "endorsement" of Obama as somehow indicative of his Israel policy views, as well as those who could not shut up about his warm reception in Europe, do not see how an American endorsement of a candidate in another country's election might be viewed with similiar and perhaps even greater distaste by the people in that country."
Somewhat tangentially, I'm reminded of an Orwell quote:
"All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side ... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

"Sorry sir, but this sewer is catch and release only..."

Credit where credit is due

Obama spoke out against the trade penalties in the Waxman-Markey crap sandwich.

Also FTA:
Mr. Obama, hoping to build momentum in the Senate after the narrow victory in the House, delayed the start of a Sunday golf game to speak to a small group of reporters in the Oval Office.
Well then. At least he's committed.

American Imaginer

Jack Cashill of American Thinker is still grasping at straws trying to demonstrate that Bill Ayers was involved in a literary conspiracy to co-write Obama's Dreams from my Father. Needless to say, it's unconvincing.

Krugman bashes a strawman and takes a short-term view on healthcare

Earlier I linked to George Will and Greg Mankiw on the public healthcare plan. Of course, Krugman disagrees:
Health care is not a bowl of cherries. Or a carton of milk, or a loaf of bread.

Both George Will and Greg Mankiw basically argue that we don’t need a government role because we can trust the market to work — hey, we do it for groceries, right?

Um, economists have known for 45 years — ever since Kenneth Arrow’s seminal paper — that the standard competitive market model just doesn’t work for health care: adverse selection and moral hazard are so central to the enterprise that nobody, nobody expects free-market principles to be enough. To act all wide-eyed and innocent about these problems at this late date is either remarkably ignorant or simply disingenuous.
Krugman may wish to argue against this strawman, but neither George nor Greg are "basically arguing" that we "don't need a government role" regulating the health industry. Rather, they think that too much of a role--such as a national monopsony--will be harmful to quality of care and R&D. Offering a public plan puts us on the most politically expedient path to this.

Of course, I agree with George and Greg: modern medicine has been developed at its faster rate compared to other nations partly because of America's for-profit healthcare system. Just look at some high-end equipment numbers compared to Canada's:

Does anyone believe these numbers would be as lopsided if the U.S. had a nonprofit, national system like Canada?

This ties in with my earlier post about taking a long view on wealth, rather than shooting for more equal distribution in the here-and-now--as lefties like Krugman are wont to do.

I have no doubt that if tomorrow we nationalized the US healthcare industry and provided universal coverage for all, access would become more equitable and many people would have improved access to helpful treatments. For the immediate present, this would be a boon.

But 10, 20, maybe 40 years down the line, their children would be worse off. Again, see my wealth growth over time draft for the math behind this thinking.

Additionally, the rest of the world would also be worse off--because presently, countries with socialized medicine like Canada and Britain basically wait for U.S.-developed treatments to become cheap enough before making them available to their population. If the U.S. develops new treatments at a reduced rate, the model stagnates.

Saturday, June 27

Amateur hour

With editing:

The "Copyright © 1786" is a nice touch.

(ht LGF)

A more interesting take on Sanford

From the left, he's a "globetrotting nutjob".

From the right, a "bastard" and "disgrace".

From me, why should we care?

But Kathleen Parker actually read his love letters and sees "the kind of tragic, heart-swelling tale that storybook romances are made of."

She concludes:
..this much we know without admitting: If this really were a movie, we’d be pulling for the Argentine.

Ah, but that is fiction.
Well I'm not afraid to admit it nor do I need to hide behind "but that is fiction". If asked, I'd recommend Sanford beg his wife for an amicable divorce and go live his love.

But Sanford doesn't know me and has no interest in my opinion. That makes his affair none of my business.

How are those bailouts comming?

Hennessey charts CBO estimates...

Bloggy takedown of the day

Megan wrote:
[The role of the CRA in the financial meltdown is] understated by liberals who are unwilling to admit that regulation, too, can produce hideous unintended consequences.  . . . Regardless of how much causal blame you assign it, the financial crisis has certainly proven that the CRA seems to have been a very, very bad idea.
publius isn't having it (bold mine):
Essentially nothing in that excerpt is true.  Felix Salmon and Ryan Chittum hopefully put the stake through this argument, but it keeps appearing (the Chittum post is more comprehensive).  To sum them up -- the bad loans at the heart of the meltdown came overwhelmingly from unregulated, non-bank lenders who weren't even covered by the CRA.  In addition, the CRA loans did very well.  And there's basically not a shred of evidence that the CRA led to the meltdown.  And you can't evade that 100% lack of evidence by citing vague "mentalities" and drawing imaginary causal lines constructed entirely of ideology.

The pitfalls of the public option

Greg Mankiw's take is in the Times.

Friday, June 26

Leaving bad enough alone

George Will argues against Democratic health reforms.

He must not hate insurance companies enough, according to the liberals I've been arguing with lately.

Some choice you're giving us, lady

I opposed the Waxman-Markey climate bill that squeaked through the House today for sane reasons: it fails cost-benefit analysis, leaving us worse off than we'd be without it.

Michele Bachmann, however, is here to remind us of her own reasons for opposing it. I'm with her through 0:40, then she unloads the crazy...

Really? Because it's looking to me like our choice is between sloppy, self-righteous 'save the world' sentimentalism from the left and quixotic anti-tyranny fear rhetoric from the right.

King David didn't resign after his sex scandal, so why should Sanford?

From the Dept. of Republicans taking the old book of Jewish fairy tales too seriously.

Missing the logic of recognizing his own would-be-marriage

Andrew quotes a letter from Bill McColl to the Post:
I am a gay man. My partner lives 12 time zones away. We are in a monogamous relationship, and we do not cheat. We get to see each other only twice a year for less than three weeks. Although he is a professional in marketing, the United States will not let him immigrate because he was not picked in the lottery. The federal government would not recognize our relationship if I married him.

The government will not allow us to be together. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen. John Ensign (and former House speaker Newt Gingrich and senator Larry Craig) oppose same-sex marriages even as they do their best to destroy the institution of marriage in the United States.

I pay my taxes. I served in the military. I was an Eagle Scout. In short, I am a good, but second-class, citizen. It's very hard not to be infuriated by the double standards
I concur with the fury in the first and last graphs. Unfortunately, the middle one is specious. That Sanford and Ensign oppose Bill's right to marry his partner is contemptible, but this has nothing to do with their infidelity.

To understand why, assume the counterfactual. Suppose Sanford and Ensign had been perfectly faithful to their own partners. Dream husbands who've done every caring thing a man can do. In fact, let's be even more ridiculous and posit that their wives are so enamored they often experience orgasms just daydreaming about these hypothetical wonderful husbands of theirs.

Would such exceptionalness give Sanford and Ensign any more ground to stand on in rejecting Bill's relationship? NO--regardless of their personal lives, Bill's relationship and the sex of his partner is none of their business. And that Bill's would-be-marriage is monogamous or if it were open and promiscuous or if Bill were to also have a secret mistress stowed away somewhere in Scandanavia--this would also be none of their business.

Guilty pleasures

I thought the Michael Jackson coverage would be a total bore, but some old gems have turned out to be surprisingly fun. From the Woot blog:
Moonwalker--this 1988 arcade game captures the creeping megalomania of the white-suit period, positing Michael as a whirling, moonwalking superagent on a mission to, yes, free the children from a villain unimaginatively named Mr. Big. In this clip, Michael trades the white suit for body armor. Best part: the special weapon that clears the screen by forcing all the baddies to dance offstage. Michael's military strategy was as forward-thinking as his beats.

An Eddie Murphy impression (NSFW language):

One of the most amazing tributes, Filipino prisoners dance to "Thriller":

And finally, an oddly moving Pepsi commercial:

Update: Of course Andrew had to go round up some Iran-themed vids.

A tragic life

Something else Jonah Goldberg and I can agree on.

Iran's Assembly of Experts

A real picture:

In case you're a little lost, a chart from the Beeb:
The responsibilities of the Assembly of Experts are to appoint the Supreme Leader, monitor his performance and remove him if he is deemed incapable of fulfilling his duties. The assembly usually holds two sessions a year.

Although the body is officially based in the holy city of Qom, sessions are also held in Tehran and Mashhad. Direct elections for the 86 members of the current assembly are held every eight years and are next due in 2014.

Members are elected for an eight year term. Only clerics can join the assembly and candidates for election are vetted by the Guardian Council.

The assembly is dominated by conservatives. Its current chairman is former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who lost the 2005 presidential election to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Against mandates

John Schwenkler elaborates (bold mine):
...in a politically uncorrupted world, none of this would be an issue: health insurance is a public good, and as such it makes a good deal of sense to require individuals to buy in to the risk pool from which they’re ultimately going to benefit. In practice, though, mandates mean a lot more than this; they’re not just about the requirement to purchase some health insurance, but rather to buy at least a particular amount of it, and that amount is determined by the very same politicians whose commitment to the agenda of the health care lobby opponents of “free market” systems generally decry. This does not have the effect of making health care cheaper, since it eliminates the possibility of offering low-cost plans that incentivize good health and individual responsibility, and instead pushes citizens into exactly the sorts of plans that encourage unnecessary consumption of health care and thereby keep prices unnaturally high. As I’ve said before, short of government rationing (which of course is subject to regulatory capture in its own right) the most natural way to make health care more affordable is to make less of it free, which is exactly the opposite of what a system of strict mandates is going to tend to do.

A different perspective on Iran

Via TBP...

Tidal channels near Iran's Qeshm Island. (NASA/JSC) [map]

A port near Bandar Abbas, Iran. (NASA/JSC) [map]

Thursday, June 25

Unbreakable no longer

May he rest in the peace he did not know in life.

The more things change...

Here's Milton Friedman discussing "the Great Depression, the New Deal, the auto industry, auto (Chrysler) bailouts, greed, Amtrak, auto emissions regulation and airbags, Ralph Nader, tariffs, free trade, price controls and gas shortages, oil companies, etc., and other topics that are still relevant today."

Links to parts 2-5 here.

Bonus: again in 1980.

40% of income on healthcare in 2100 isn't so bad, plus a rumination on growth over time

This is quite interesting:
..we react inappropriately to future extrapolations, because we project them onto our own situations--we ignore the fact that the changes in income shares devoted to a given product arise from economic growth. It is true that I cannot afford to spend 40% of my income on healthcare. It was equally true that my great-great grandparents could not afford to spend a third of their income on housing, and another half on clothing, manufactured good, transportation, and services--Land o' Mercy, everyone in the future is going to starve to death!!!

Obviously this is ridiculous. I am not consuming less food than my ancestors; I am consuming more. (Too much more, according to the waistband of my favorite pants.) But my income is vastly higher than theirs in real terms, so that the food I consume is 10% of my household budget, rather than 50%. Similarly, our descendents in 2100 giving over 40% of their income to health care (if indeed they do), will not be skimping on housing, transportation, clothing, entertainment, or what have you. In all probability, they will be consuming more of everything than I do, except maybe energy and housing. It's just that they'll be devoting a large share of their extra income to health care. This prospect doesn't worry me. And it probably won't worry them, other than the way it (mostly) worries us: because we'd always like everything we consume to cost less, and be more equally distributed.
This time view relates to a thesis I've been thinking about but haven't quite settled on how to express persuasively...here's my draft:

Lefty progressives do not account well for growth over time. Learned ones know that the income pie is not fixed and will grow over time, but they are nonetheless obsessed with distributing it more equally in the here-and-now. In short they want their government to redistribute more food, housing, health services, and educational assistance from the haves to the the have-nots.

As a simplified concrete example, suppose there exists an initial Society A with 1000 total "points" of wealth that is stratified into the bottom 80% of population, called the "lower class", and the richest 20% being the "upper class" The wealth is distributed like this:

Lower class--80% population, 20% of wealth (200 points total)
Upper class--20% population, 80% of wealth (800 points total)

Now suppose a progressive unconcerned with growth looks at this and devises an economic policy that will immediately result in Society B:

Lower 80% class--40% of wealth (400 points total)
Upper 20% class--60% of wealth (600 points total)

Nice work, right? The lower class is twice as well off, and the net wealth of the upper class is a respectable 75% of what it started out as. This is a "fairer" society, right?

Yet the picture isn't so rosy if we introduce growth over time to the equation. For a real-world example, according to this video at time 1:33 over last 30 years (since Ronald Reagan) the US economy has averaged 2.9% annual growth. Over the same time, the French economy has averaged 1.9% annual growth. How much difference does 1% make?

Let's apply this growth rate to our initial 1000 wealth points over a period of 100 years...

1000 * (1.029 ^ 100) = 17430 total points of wealth for a US-like economy
1000 * (1.019 ^ 100) = 6560 total points of wealth for a French-like economy

As you can see, after 100 years the US-like economy is now 266% of the French-like economy's wealth! Let's apply these figures to our Societies A and B:

Less egalitarian Society A:

Lower 80% class, 20% of 17430 wealth points = 3486 wealth points.
Upper 20% class, 80% of 17430 wealth points = 13944 wealth points.

More egalitarian Society B:

Lower 80% class, 40% of 6560 = 2624 wealth points
Upper 20% class, 60% of 6560 = 3936 wealth points

Obviously, given the choice, the vast majority of sane people should prefer the wealthier, higher-growth Society A--even though B is more egalitarian.

But progressive liberals, with their distaste for measures of growth and GDP per capita, have lost sight of this.

Note that in my example here, the higher-growth society was the control group and the lower-growth society became more egalitarian. Since 1980, the US has actually become less egalitarian (i.e. the rich are richer). But the point is the same--relatively less egalitarian societies have higher growth.

Here's a video of Margaret Thatcher saying the same thing:

Update 8/22/2009: This chart from a Belgian think tank is also illustrative:

In the shadow of the mountain

"I'd love to live somewhere like that, specifically right there." —YorickBrown

Wonder if there's an incline steep enough to fly off...

Wednesday, June 24

Why the obsession with Sanford?

I've lost count of the number of articles and blog entries about Mark Sanford, the Republican governor of South Carolina, that I've skipped reading.

As I understand the story, he disappeared for a while, flying to Argentina, where he continued an affair that had been going on for about a year--which he's now admitted to.

Presumably he will not immediately go the way of Fmr. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, because prostitution is illegal—whereas having affairs is not.

So why is everyone talking so much about Sanford's personal life? Why do they care?

Dick Van Patten explains why Jesus Christ is God

(ht Pime)

Reponding to events in Iran

Tuesday, June 23

Keeping quiet

John Schwenkler is disappointed with Obama's latest remarks on Iran:
..having just lived through a period where the “international community’s” (proper) condemnation of our own nation’s unjust actions led to boycotts of French wine and frantic calls to “double Gitmo”, can it really be believed that being incessantly hectored about how best to run elections and deal with political protests is going to lead the Iranian government to be more respectful of liberal values? Of course not. No matter the thrill it might be for Americans to see the Leader of the Free World get up on his high horse, the people with the guns are going to view these words as a provocation, if not an attempt at exactly the kind of coercion Obama professedly deplores. So why add fuel to the fire? Why not just keep quiet, when it’s as clear as day that this kind of moralizing is only going to strengthen the oppressors’ resolve?
The pressure from Republican pundits for Obama to be more vocal and "less timid" in his response to the situation in Iran has been horrible.

Exhibit A: Andy McCarthy's post at the Corner is a disgusting, ridiculously unhinged piece of work.

Detainee rights

An NROite is concerned about prison rape, which is interesting coming from the Right. Presumably his concern extends to all domestic terrorists who are imprisoned. But is he as concerned about the U.S.'s high-profile torture and abuse of foreign prisoners--terrorists and other combatants? Or is he another one of those who believes that denizen criminals don't have rights so long as there is intelligence to be gleaned?

Blame the demons

You've probably never witnessed an exorcism by an evangelical reverend. I have on two occasions, and the subjects' behavior was a lot like this kid's:

Who knew the power of Jesus' name was commensurate with canceling someone's World of Warcrack account?


Sunday, June 21

Line of the month

From a Dish reader...
Twitter revolution in a nutshell: Anne Frank's diary. Live. Multiplied by millions.

UAW jumps the shark

Unions...what'll they think of next?

[Photo credit: Perry]

Moore Award nominee

Andrew is immersed in Iran coverage, so I'll just post it here:
"The gravity of America's health care crisis is the moral equivalent of the 19th Century's bloody conflict over slavery. This is not hyperbole, though the truth of it is often lost in abstract talk of insurance company profits, treatment costs, and other cold, inhuman analyses.

Today's health system condemns 50 million Americans to ill health and death while guaranteeing health care to the economic privileged. "

Glenn W. Smith, fire dog lake

Redneck nerdery of the week

The PC game gun...


Saturday, June 20

The first nerd presidency of the modern era

"There is talk in some states of decriminalizing evolution."

(Via Viral Video Chart)

Roger Cohen in Iran today


Escalating violence in Iran

Given the recent violent clashes with protesters, condemnations like H Res. 560--which Ron Paul just voted against--are looking more appropriate.

I still admire Rep. Paul's restraint, but today's subsequent violence has been horrible. Here's Obama's latest statement:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.
I think this is appropriate--it doesn't threaten Iran in any way, which would undoubtedly be counterproductive for the protesters, given the prevailing anti-American sentiment. It just reminds them the world is watching. And boy, are we.

Should the worst happen, with Ahmadinejad and his allies continuing to crack down and stay in power, I think the outcome will still be positive. The international community--including Europe and Russia--will not be able to ignore the government's illegitimacy--the rigged election and violent crackdown has been too well publicized.

Friday, June 19

Bravo, Ron Paul

Here's the text of H Res. 560, "Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes."
Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.
Ron Paul's response made memeorandum—his was the single vote against. Emphasis mine below...
Congressman Ron Paul
United States House of Representatives

Statement Opposing Resolution on Iran

June 19, 2009

I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560, which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about “condemning” the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.

Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.

I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions.


A Dish reader submits some amazingly cynical neoconservatism:
I had a conversation at lunch yesterday with a friend, a neocon Jewish American, that fascinated me. We were getting ready to get up from the table when he said, "Hey, wait a minute, do you want to talk politics for a minute?" We proceeded to discuss the events in Iran and at one point I brought up my amazement at the protesters' embrace of non-violence and their courage in the face of aggression. I said, "I wonder if this will be a lesson to the Palestinians. That perhaps if they renounce violence and embrace peaceful resistance they too could garner more international support for their cause, a la Gandhi." His reaction fascinated me. He got this very serious, dour look on his face and replied, "That's what worries me. The biggest existential threat to Israel is that the Palestinians will realize the potential for non-violence and embrace it.

I finally understood why some of the more cynical neocons cannot stand the Green Revolution. Without a conflict, without a bogey man to demonize, they are scared to death. In their minds their legitimacy comes from the fact that they are better than the bogey man, that they are necessary to keep the bogey man at bay. I don't think that the nation of Israel is so fragile that it could not come to terms with a peaceful movement for Palestinian statehood.

Thursday, June 18

The importance of local legitimacy

Hilzoy on neoconservatism:
My biggest difference with neoconservatives concerns attempts to create democracies by military force. I do not believe that it is impossible to do this: we did it in Germany and Japan after World War II. But in that case, we had a really good reason both to occupy Germany and Japan: namely, the fact that they had attacked us, and they had lost. Similarly, we had a decent reason for trying to recast their political institutions: those institutions were partially responsible for the fact that they had just started a world war.

Creating a democracy requires the active participation of a lot of people in the country in which you are trying to create it, and you are unlikely to get this participation if those people regard your presence not just as undesirable, but as illegitimate. People tend not to regard our occupation of a country as illegitimate when they attack us, and they lose. But they do tend to regard it as illegitimate when we invade simply because we think they should have a different form of government, even if they themselves do not much like the government they have. For this reason, I think that even if we had the right to invade a country for the express purpose of creating a democracy, that invasion would be virtually certain to fail.
She goes on to discuss Iran and Iraq as poignant examples.

PETA bait

(Via Viral Video Chart)

Wednesday, June 17

Pictures of Israeli settlements

Very interesting to see what we're talking about.

Have I mentioned lately how excellent TBP is?

The professor vs. the fighter pilot

A vote vindicated.

Lesson in democracy for neocons

Via Andrew, AL points to the fact that the nuclear program has an 84 percent approval rating within Iran:
Bombing that country would, in addition to generating many casualties, significantly strengthen the hand of the hardliners. It would poison public opinion against the West and stifle reform efforts. And on the flipside, if the reformers succeed and the result is a more democratic Iran, there's little reason to think Iran's elected leaders would abandon the country's nuclear program. In functioning democracies, elected leaders tend not to kill programs that are massively popular. To truly embrace democracy in the world, you have to understand that people in other countries will often see things differently than you see them.

About those smoking bans

Megan sees a blow to libertarian credibility.

"Administration's Reform Plan Misses the Mark"

I join Cato's pessimism:
The Obama Administration is presenting a misguided, ill-informed remake of our financial regulatory system that will likely increase the frequency and severity of future financial crises. While our financial system, particularly our mortgage finance system, is broken, the Obama plan ignores the real flaws in our current structure, instead focusing on convenient targets.

Shockingly, the Obama plan makes no mention of those institutions at the very heart of the mortgage market meltdown – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two entities were the single largest source of liquidity for the subprime market during its height. In all likelihood, their ultimate cost to the taxpayer will exceed that of TARP, once TARP repayments have begun. Any reform plan that leaves out Fannie and Freddie does not merit being taken seriously.

Instead of addressing our destructive federal policies aimed at extending homeownership to households that cannot sustain it, the Obama plan calls for increased “consumer protections” in the mortgage industry. Sadly, the Administration misses the basic fact that the most important mortgage characteristic that is determinate of mortgage default is the borrower’s equity. However, such recognition would also require admitting that the government’s own programs, such as the Federal Housing Administration, have been at the forefront of pushing unsustainable mortgage lending.

While the Administration plan recognizes the failure of the credit rating agencies, it appears to misunderstand the source of that failure: the rating agencies’ government-created monopoly. Additional disclosure will not solve that problem. What is needed is an end to the exclusive government privileges that have been granted to the rating agencies. In addition, financial regulators should end the outsourcing of their own due diligence to the rating agencies.

The Administration’s inability to admit the failures of government regulation will only guarantee that the next failures will be even bigger than the current ones.

Stage of denial

Prophetic quote of the day

Oy vey:
"The basic point is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble."

—Lefty economist and future Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, August 2002.
(ht Megan)

Worldwide protests

TBP rounds up pictures from London, Ankara, Kiev, Paris, Athens, Copenhagen, Oslo, New York, Dubai, Frankfurt, and more from inside Iran...

A genuine rally photo

Mousavi supporters in the hundreds of thousands...

(ht Library Grape)

Potemkin rallies

That Ahmadinejad rally was photoshopped (sorry, "enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software") to appear larger...

Manufactured controversy watch

The Palinite anti-David Letterman protest attracts more members of the media than protesters, 35 to 15.

Monday, June 15

Tweet of the day

@BabakMehrabani is saying that he was beaten by a baton and his right hand is numb. He is twitting with the left hand.
Andrew has many more worth reading...

TBP has fascinating pictures...

Sunday, June 14

The revolution will be twittered

Follow here and here, nothing else is keeping up with events.

P.S. Up till now I've been a twitter skeptic and had no use for following any feeds, preferring to read longer-form blogs. But I think we've found twitter's killer app: resisting tyranny and censorship in real time.

Saturday, June 13

The minimum wage

Kills jobs for poor and young people.

That Iranian "election"

It's far too early to make sense of what is happening, and what just happened in Iran. It could be another episode of tragic suppression of stirrings of democracy and reform in that theocratic state. It could be a new, more significant marker in the regime's loss of legitimacy among its educated classes. It could possibly lead to real unrest, as riots today revealed, and a much less stable regime. It could lead to an even more disturbingly aggressive and know-nothing government, threatening the world and the region with weapons of mass destruction, precipitating awful conflict. Or it could mean that many of us have been deluding ourselves in thinking that there is not widespread popular support in Iran for hardline religious conservatism.

They didn't even attempt to disguise the fraud. Which, to me, tells me they panicked. This graph is a red flag to Iran and the world.
Update: maybe not

Friday, June 12

Favored constituency watch

Democrats plan to tax health benefits, but only those not part of a union. Brilliant.

Quote of the day

A Dish reader who voted at an Iranian embassy:
"Iranians seem to have two paths: they can either elect a Gorbachev, make some sacrifices, and hopefully get an improved political system in a couple of decades, or they can elect a Saddam and watch as their country goes down the road of Iraq."

Ranking the public plans

Ambers provided a cheat sheet, which I'll rank according to my preferences:
1. The Conrad Plan -- would be a series of health insurance cooperatives, administered privately but not for profit. Details remain vague. The federal government would not directly be involved.

2.  The Snowe Float: for a few years, the government would offer a conventional, non-competitive plan. If insurance companies failed to reform, to cut costs, to improve quality, a much stronger, competitive plan would be offered. This is what's known as a "trigger" plan.

3. The Schumer Plan -- would be a government-run plan that follows the same rules that insurance companies do. It would pay for itself via fees.

4. The HELP (Kennedy) Plan -- still in progress, an early version would require providers to participate, would pay them 10% more than Medicare, and would also expand Medicare and S-CHIP.

5. The Rockefeller Plan -- would be a conventional, government-run plan that pays for itself via premiums and fees.Reimbursement rates would be based on Medicare for two years (at least), which could, in theory, pressure private plans to lower costs. The plan would follow guidelines that a new health care trust would create. This trust would function as a marketplace, giving providers and patients a sense of what other plans are charging and how effective they are. This is the strongest public plan offered so far by Senators.

6. The House Plan: Medicare would be expanded and eligibility would be based on income alone. The government plan would be modeled after Medicare; to get providers on board, there would be some (potentially significant) reimbursement rate adjustments.
If I'm reading the tea leaves right, the worst-case scenario that has a strong chance of passing is Schumer's #3.

#1 Doesn't seem likely to please any progressives with an exuberant faith in government, but it's being considered by the Blue Dogs and New Dems.

#2 Snowe's trigger is generating plenty of buzz, but I'm not sure of its actual chances. Could be second after Schumer's.

Punblic health insurance option, ctd.

The New Democrat Coalition and Blue Dogs are haggling.

Thursday, June 11

Quote of the day

Via Andrew, worth repeating...
Karl Rove should have been named Man of the Year at some point by the Democratic National Committee. The political consultant/Bush adviser played a big role in expanding the burden of government, convincing Bush to saddle the nation with fiscal disasters such as the “no-bureaucrat-left-behind” education bill, the corrupt farm bills, the pork-filled transportation bills, and the horrific new entitlement for prescription drugs. He also helped ruin the GOP image with his inside-the-beltway version of “compassionate conservatism,” thus paving the way for big Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008.

I can understand why libertarians have no desire to listen to his advice, but I’m baffled why Republicans or conservatives would give him the time of day. Yet he is a constant presence on FOX News and has a weekly column in the Wall Street Journal. With no apparent irony, his latest WSJ column is entitled “How to Stop Socialized Health Care.” Too bad he didn’t follow his own advice in 2003 when pulling out all the stops to enact the biggest entitlement in four decades," —Daniel Mitchell, CATO at Liberty.

U.S. auto industry doing well

Provided you include BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.

[..] in the last decade, car manufacturers have selected southern states for new plants due to lower labor and energy costs, cheaper land, state subsidies, a lower tax burden and -- significantly -- the absence of unionized labor.
You think?

Ah, federalism's 'laboratories of democracy': they show what works. Hurrah for globalization and right-to-work states.

Wednesday, June 10

Quote of the day

Marc Ambinder:
the White House understands that [David] Brooks's voice, even when not embraced by conservatives, influences how centrists and many intellectually honest liberal Democrats look at the world.
You mean there's another kind?

Tipping the scale

Some encouraging developments abroad:
1. The pro-Western March 14 coalition won a clear victory in the Lebanese election, a promising step towards more enduring stability in that deeply-divided country.

2. The Iranian presidential election campaign has turned into a real dogfight between incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi. Although recent polls in Iran suggest that Ahmadinjed will still win, Mousavi seems to be gaining ground and there may well be a run-off. Even if Mousavi loses, there's clearly a lot of popular discontect with Ahmadinejad's rule, and a lot of it centers around his bizarrely self-defeating approach to foreign policy. [..] Moreover, there seems to be widespread popular support for improving relations with the United States.

3. The New York Times reports that some Pakistani villagers are turning against the Taliban, and may even be supporting the government's more active role against them.

It would be a mistake to give Barack all (or even most) of the credit for these developments, but I don't think its completely unrelated either.

[..] elections in most countries turn on local conditions and issues and not on what's happening in Washington. But it sure looks like Obama's approach is helping tip the scale in the right direction.

Procedure over innocence

I had been ambivalent about Sonia Sotomayor's nomination, but her refusal to hear evidence in the case of Jeffrey Deskovic is very disturbing. Where's the vaunted empathy?

Nanny state cometh

President Barack Obama eats his vegetables and exercises every day — and he really wants you to do the same.

[..] The president is filling top posts at Health and Human Services with officials who, in their previous jobs, outlawed trans fats, banned public smoking or required restaurants to provide a calorie count with that slice of banana cream pie.

Even Congress is getting into the act, giving serious consideration to taxing sugary drinks and alcohol to help pay for the overhaul.

[..] The whole situation has libertarians craving a basket of onion rings and a beer.

“If you care about the sorts of things I do, then you are going to be losing big-time for the next four to eight years,” said David Harsanyi, a Denver Post columnist and author of the book “Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists and Other Boneheaded Bureaucrats Are Turning America Into a Nation of Children.”

Don’t get them wrong, critics such as Harsanyi say — they like broccoli and they lift barbells and they have no particular beef with a healthy president who was once described by his physician as having “no excess body fat.” They just don’t like it when government becomes the messenger and the enforcer.

The appointment last month of New York Public Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden as director of the CDC really made the libertarian-minded nervous.

Frieden is a big part of the reason New Yorkers no longer smoke in bars or eat trans fats at restaurants and find calorie counts on their menus. Frieden once said that when anyone in New York dies at an early age from a preventable disease, “it’s my fault.”

[..] libertarians like Michael D. Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, aren’t looking forward to it.

“At the very least,” said Tanner, “we are going to get nagged a lot.”

Freedom and responsibility

Above the Borderline provides this quote from a Dutch author that does an nice job of confusing freedom with dependence:
One problem with the American system is that if you lose your job and are without an income, that’s not just bad for you but for the economy. Our system has more security. And I think it makes our quality of life better. My American friends say they live in the best country in the world, and in a lot of ways they are right. But they always have to worry: ‘What happens to my family if I have a heart attack? What happens when I turn 65 or 70?’ America is the land of the free. But I think we are freer.
To me, being freer means being more independent and responsible for my own health and future: your income, health, and retirement are your own business.

But for this Dutch man, being freer apparently means being less responsible and more dependent on the government. You shouldn't have to worry so much about keeping your income, staying healthy, or providing for your retirement. Your government should be there to pick up the slack.

Historically, Americans' preferred idea of freedom has been closer to mine. I reckon individual responsibility was a principal driver of America's greatness in the 20th century—the most basic lesson of capitalism's triumph over communism.

So I'm deeply suspicious of socialists or socialism-lite liberals who would have the government take away the worries this man complains about. Those worries are what makes the system work.

Reduce incentives to work, and you end up with the Netherlands on the bottom of this chart of hours per year:

Yes, free time has great hedonic value—you can find a nice quality of life down there in France, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

But if you want to do great things—like facing down the USSR or pioneering electrical appliances, assembly lines, computers, the Internet or modern medical cures....well, someone has to do the work. These high welfare states are essentially leeching off security and advancements from the rest of us.

Tuesday, June 9

Paging Dr. Gore

From a monthly report of global temperature:
(ht Reason)

Monday, June 8

Obama reconsiders domestic agenda

The next Iranian president?

Mr. Mousavi has a good chance of prevailing in Iran's elections, and his political platform looks to have some very nice improvements.

Yes, Iran will still be a theocracy and the Supreme Leader has more power. But Mousavi seems quite well educated and reasonable for an Iranian. Between him and Obama, I expect a very productive restoration of US-Iranian diplomatic relations.

One for the (neoconish) rightists

Why shouldn't we waterboard Scott Roeder?

29 Democrats needed

Just got this email (emph. mine):
Dear Gherald,

Rahm Emmanuel is pressuring progressives to change their vote and abandon their principles. You can help fight back.

Your Representative is getting intense pressure from Emmanuel to pass more money for the war in Afghanistan, as well as $100 billion to bail out European banks, not to mention an amendment to block the release of detainee torture photos.

Your Representative voted the right way the first time. Give them a call and ask them to hold firm: http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/supplemental

If 39 Democrats commit to vote against the bill it won't pass, and 10 have already agreed to do so.  We need 29 more.

For once, the votes of progressive members of Congress actually matter when it comes to funding the war. But they are being heavily pressured by Congressional leadership to toe the line.

Please call your Representative's office and let them know you support their commitment to bringing our troops home safely, and urge them to vote against this bill.

We've got the phone number for your Representative here: http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/supplemental

After you call, please forward this email to friends in your district, and ask them to call too. A few hundred phone calls at this crucial time may make all the difference!
Thank you for help.

Jane Hamsher
FDL Action
I called my representative, a staunch progressive, and her office doesn't yet know how she'll be voting.  Check out the list and call yours to put some pressure on and get them to join Republicans (because of the IMF funding) and bat this thing down.

Update: The detainee photo suppression is gone.

Public health insurance, antitrust, and price controls

..critics argue that with low administrative costs and no need to produce profits, a public plan will start with an unfair pricing advantage. They say that if a public plan is allowed to pay doctors and hospitals at levels comparable to Medicare’s, which are substantially below commercial insurance rates, it could set premiums so low it would quickly consume the market.
The first sentence describes the whole point of having a new non-profit plan compete with for-profit HMOs and PPOs. They're afraid of this competition, which is understandable, but cry me a river. As a general rule, private industry is supposed to be more efficient than government programs, and if they can't compete on an even playing field then they're doing something wrong.

But how even is the playing field? If the public plan were to be subsidized by taxpayers and not self-sufficient, that would obviously be uneven.

The second sentence is also of concern. Allowing any plans—be they public or private—to fix costs and underpay at low Medicare levels will amount to an effective government price control on the industry.

Private insurers are not allowed to collude and use their combined negotiating power to underpay for medical procedures because of antitrust law. But here we have the specter of a government-run public plan coming in and sidestepping antitrust regulations, with the express goal of satisfying public demand for more and cheaper care.

Such a market distortion is unfair to health providers (i.e. hospitals and clinics) who were previously competing on a freer market. In reducing compensation, it will undoubtedly reduce the quality of care, and it may also reduce availability as providing health services becomes less competitive with other industries that are not price controlled by the government.

For general information on the consequences of such price controls, see here...
Governments have been trying to set maximum or minimum prices since ancient times. The Old Testament prohibited interest on loans to fellow Israelites; medieval governments fixed the maximum price of bread; and in recent years, governments in the United States have fixed the price of gasoline, the rent on apartments in New York City, and the wage of unskilled labor, to name a few. At times, governments go beyond fixing specific prices and try to control the general level of prices, as was done in the United States during both world wars and the Korean War, and by the Nixon administration from 1971 to 1973.

The appeal of price controls is understandable. Even though they fail to protect many consumers and hurt others, controls hold out the promise of protecting groups that are particularly hard-pressed to meet price increases. Thus, the prohibition against usury—charging high interest on loans—was intended to protect someone forced to borrow out of desperation; the maximum price for bread was supposed to protect the poor, who depended on bread to survive; and rent controls were supposed to protect those who were renting when the demand for apartments exceeded the supply, and landlords were preparing to “gouge” their tenants.

Despite the frequent use of price controls, however, and despite their appeal, economists are generally opposed to them, except perhaps for very brief periods during emergencies.

[..] The study of price controls teaches important lessons about free competitive markets. By examining cases in which controls have prevented the price mechanism from working, we gain a better appreciation of its usual elegance and efficiency. This does not mean that there are no circumstances in which temporary controls may be effective. But a fair reading of economic history shows just how rare those circumstances are.
And here.

Yglesias recently wrote a post in which he dismissed opposition to price controls by Blue Dogs as not good for deficit reduction, thus "not fiscally conservative", thus incompatible with being a Blue Dog. In this he ignores that economic conservatives are against price controls for very good reasons, e.g. preserving the quality of goods you get from a free market. If all we cared about was spending less, we'd propose a socialist system like Britain's, which spends less than half the amount per capita. Obviously their quality of care isn't as good. (And what makes Canada's better than Britain's is its location).

Another point aired in the NYT piece:
Insurance industry lobbyists are skeptical that the government can fairly referee a contest between its own insurance plan and private offerings. In an era of serial federal bailouts, they aks, would the government really let its own insurance plan fail?
This is important, becaue any situation in which the government plan is not allowed to fail would be unfair competition. Private HMOs, being normal companies, are subject to failure. (Capitalism's "creative destruction".)

If we start out with a public option that is unsubsidized, but it can't meet its sobligations at competitive rates, the odds are Congress will intervene to "save" it as a public good, i.e. find some way to subsidize it.

In sum, this is why I'm against public options for healthcare and anything else: it's very difficult to set up fair competition and ensure it remains fair.

For many leftists, however, that's the point: they're uninterested in fair competition, and would prefer a single-payer system with no competition that sets prices by fiat. Their goal is to provide equal coverage for all, with scant regard for the consequences to quality of coverage and for-profit incentives of R&D that heretofore have advanced modern medicine in the U.S. very quickly compared to states with public healthcare.

Back to work

A stock market primer

Dept. of things I didn't know but will be making use of...some day.

I also like the theory that one should sell whenever a Congressional session starts and buy when it ends.

After gay marriage

..comes gay divorce.

Joe Scarborough

Can save the GOP? Dieu aie pitié.

Sunday, June 7

Americans care about smaller government

We just disagree how to get there.

How stupid do they think we are?

I hope other lefty economists have some shame.

Misunderstanding markets, school vouchers edition

Schwenkler explains the basics.

Good ol' American solutions

U.S. doctors discourage medical tourism by being easier to sue:
..the potential difficulty in suing foreign doctors appears to be the chief differentiator, and the primary argument in favor of good-old-American-surgery,” DrRich writes. “The surgeons, in essence, are saying, ‘Let us do your surgery, because we’re easier to sue if we screw up.’”

Fetal reincarnation

A Dish reader:
"I’m not a Christian and I don’t believe that life begins at conception...I think it’s far more likely that when a pregnancy is terminated, that soul is simply born to a different mother."
Far more likely? How about every bit as fanciful.

Traditional marriage explained

The alternative to legal abortions?

Unsafe ones:
"BEREGA, Tanzania — A handwritten ledger at the hospital tells a grim story. For the month of January, 17 of the 31 minor surgical procedures here were done to repair the results of "incomplete abortions." A few may have been miscarriages, but most were botched operations by untrained, clumsy hands.

Abortion is illegal in Tanzania (except to save the mother's life or health), so women and girls turn to amateurs, who may dose them with herbs or other concoctions, pummel their bellies or insert objects vaginally. Infections, bleeding and punctures of the uterus or bowel can result, and can be fatal. Doctors treating women after these bungled attempts sometimes have no choice but to remove the uterus. (...)

Worldwide, there are 19 million unsafe abortions a year, and they kill 70,000 women (accounting for 13 percent of maternal deaths), mostly in poor countries like Tanzania where abortion is illegal, according to the World Health Organization. More than two million women a year suffer serious complications. According to Unicef, unsafe abortions cause 4 percent of deaths among pregnant women in Africa, 6 percent in Asia and 12 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. (...)

The 120-bed hospital in Berega depends on solar panels and a generator, which is run for only a few hours a day. Short on staff members, supplies and even water, the hospital puts a lot of its scarce resources into cleaning up after failed abortions. (...)

Dr. Mdoe (...) said rumor had it that many abortions were done by a man in Gairo, a town west of Berega. In some cases, he said, the abortionist only started the procedure, knowing that doctors would have to finish the job.

Dr. Mdoe said he suspected that some of the other illegal abortionists were hospital workers with delusions of surgical skill.

"They just poke, poke, poke," he said. "And then the woman has to come here." Sometimes the doctors find fragments of sticks left inside the uterus, an invitation to sepsis."
(ht hilzoy)

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